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Does Technology destroy our relationship with Nature?

I am an environmental Literature student, and I am interested in people's responses about the constitution of Nature, Technology, and the relationship that is apparently slowly being degraded with Nature.

All responses are welcome.

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  • May 6 2013: Technology does not destroy our relationship with nature, we do it. The moment we are more astonished with a bird picture than a bird, the first became most important. We are more astonished with our own creations than the creation that we are part of.
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    May 3 2013: Unfortunately most modern people don't have a relationship with nature to destroy. How much of what was common knowledge that our great grandparents had has persisted? How many people on this thread could hunt and gather or grow their own food? Chances are that if you've driven in a car, bus, train or plane you are pretty much unaware of nature. Once people started buying food from someone else they loose contact with nature.
  • May 1 2013: If we perceive a "Relationship" with nature, it is implied that WE are SEPARATE from Nature.

    We are NOT separate from Nature. But separation is the MAJORITY PERCEPTION in humans.

    It is this complete and utter misperception which is destroying Nature.
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      May 1 2013: I think it was John Muir who said, "To control Nature obey Nature."
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    May 28 2013: People tend to think of technology as man made. We assume evolution stopped as far as humans are concerned.

    What if, just what if, technology is simply the next level of evolution that nature intended humans to be the vessels of.

    If you allow such a thought to enter into your perspective, you will see us humans, as nature's agents of change instead of touting our remarkable capabilities to just ourselves.

    Without technology, there is no hope for any form of life to transcend our earthly bounds. With technology, life has a chance to move from earth to every other point in the universe.

    In a way, biological evolution took life thus far, it will be technological evolution that can take us beyond. We have hard drives instead of DNA to do pretty much the same thing. Store the code, spread the code, mutate, find something new, repeat.
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      May 28 2013: Arun, I have thought like you. And also, the more I understand about biology and especially human physiology, I think it will be difficult to create something as complex and wonderful as the human body. which is just one aspect of nature. We learn new things about different parts of the organism and it's systems, yes. But the intricate weave of it all, the big context that any indidividual is, even if you apply all the ways we can diagnose and analyse a living person today - there is no way that we can describe the totality of this person. It will just be a list of parts and even if we put that list together, the sum of those parts will never equal a real encounter with that person. And a human body is just one aspect of nature...
      I think technology itself is neutral. It's the way we use it, that can either make us more at home with the nature of ourselves- or not.
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        May 29 2013: Anna, I definitely agree with you your point that as of today creating complex systems like a human body is way out of our reach.

        However, I wanted to make a slightly different point. Technology maybe isn't about recreating what biology can do. I think of it more as the capability to do something we can do but at a much much higher level.

        Almost every bit of technology we have has been inspired by something biological. The computer was our effort at doing some of our brain's logical functions. Now it's way better than a human at doing math but it isn't even close when we ask it to think for itself.

        So it all boils down to using technology to further the cause of nature, but as infants, we're still learning the mistakes we can make and hopefully we come out as smarter more responsible users.
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      May 28 2013: I wholeheartedly agree Arun and Anna.....technologey is part of our evolution, and technology is neutral....it gives us information. The important piece is HOW we use technology.
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        May 29 2013: Its the user, never the tool!
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          May 29 2013: Agree Arun:>)
          If the only tool we have is a hammer, we will see everything as a nail:>)
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    May 22 2013: Technology helps us understand our connection to nature. 100 years ago we didn't think we were animals, now we know we are and are intimately connected to the natural world. Global communication allows us to see the world as a whole and understand how we as one people are affected by and affecting the natural world. I think Technology can bring us closer to nature.
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    May 9 2013: Our technology is mostly used to insulate and distance ourselves from nature and its less pleasant or constraining factors. Sometimes this is deliberate, other times not. With over 50% of us living in cities and that percentage increasing it is inevitable that we are more and more remote from the natural world on a daily basis and what interaction there is is increasingly in extreme or crises scenarios (floods, storms, plagues etc). Attempts to re-introduce nature into the built environment are inevitably limited. Maybe our definition of what is 'natural' has changed and will continue to change? Is there a 'next nature' as these guys propose - http://www.nextnature.net/ ?
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    May 1 2013: Hello Nathan,
    Nothing destroys our relationship with nature unless we make the choices which do so. In my perception, we are connected with nature. If one chooses NOT to recognize that, then that person may feel disconnected from nature. It is not technology which seperates, but rather our choice of perception.

    I believe in using all available information when navigating the life adventure, so I perceive everything as interconnected including nature and technology:>)
  • May 1 2013: First of all, take a look at Richard Louv's book, "The Nature Principle"
    http://richardlouv.com/books/nature-principle/

    Second, yes...sort-of. Richard Louve argues that as we become more technologically deep as a society, it has become important for us to spend even more time in nature. There are things that we can learn in a more interactive fashion then we can through technology. Yet, I believe there is a way for them to blend together. Let me give you a theoretical scenario which I think the two can work beautifully together:

    There is an urban learning forest - a place where students go to learn about the way in which all the intricacies of an ecosystem interact with each other in a dense woodland environment. As the class hikes around, a student notices a moth, but does not recognize it. He immediately pulls out his iPad and takes a picture, and uploads it to a Cloud server. The image then gets instantly run through a digital hub at the learning forest's center, where it gets analyzed and identified. It then gets fed back to the iPad with information, describing the moth, and its role in the larger ecosystem that the student is exploring.

    This instant feedback capability of technology blended with the dynamic interaction with nature has the ability to develop learning environments which draw upon both. I believe very much in the out-of-the-box classroom setting, but I also believe that technology provides us with amazing capabilities in terms of staying connected, finding information, and essentially feeling like the world is at our feet. (Got a question? Google it.) I still remember the days when if you wanted to find something out, you'd have to dig through an encyclopedia.
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      May 2 2013: That is a GREAT example Kevin, of how we connect nature with technology, and how we can draw on both to learn, grow and evolve as individuals, and as a whole:>)
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    May 28 2013: Phew this is a tough argument huh? Lets see... [writing [[musing]] out loud...] some technology can help humanity [generally] to maintain or renew our connection with nature. Also, I think we can make a conscious effort to create technology that can be respectful toward nature, i.e., 100% recyclable products.

    When I pondered the question,"can we aspire to create technology that is respectful of nature"? I was thinking about balance with people and creating technology that leaves a small "foot-print," using more of “what” is already here.... for example... a desk-top computer or TV that does not use a conventional "screen." Link that with a home whose windows are "green" because of the window frames have two layers of glass and the home is efficient with managing heat loss. The first window pane blackens or maybe not and the 2nd, inside pane of glass is in use by your home desktop computer or television… as a giant screen. Possible? I think so. Tech like the above would I imagine reduce the number of computer and television panels [screen] being produced each year. When I wrote about technology and "nature-friendly." I was thinking small, about disposal, waste and parts suitable for refurbishment and/or recycling. My guess is more can be done about that. Your thoughts?
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      May 29 2013: Not so tough Warren:>)
      I see what you mean now about technology that is respectful of nature. As we create new technology, we are also aware of the impact it has on nature? I like consideration of balance and awareness of how technology is used, being mindful of nature. Thanks for clarifying:>)
  • May 28 2013: A: Technology is a natural phenomenon that is occurring in our civilization, and it is up to us to let it destroy or help our civilization. Only we can make a change.
  • May 24 2013: I believe it does in a way, not in every way but in some way. Technology destroys our relationship with nature in a couple of ways. These are not in any order, importance or severity, but here are a few examples. Nature is not sacred anymore. Some things in nature are almost a nuisance. There is a campaign to eliminate coqui frog from the islands of Hawaii. We disturb the natural habitats of many creatures and when things get out hand, we punish them.
    We used to live off the land and were in touch with the soil, and we were in touch with our livestock, but now some of our food is grown and bred in laboratories, by a few people, and the rest of us have made a relationship with the grocery store. Today some kids don’t know that potatoes are from the ground, and pecans grow on trees, and strawberries are not from ice-cream and yoghurt (my wife is a dietitian and makes presentation in schools).
    Before watches were made, people used to be able to tell the time simply by looking at the sun. They used to be able to understand the weather by noting the position of the moon, movement of the wind and behavior of the birds. Meteorologists are the only ones who show interests in this natural relationship, and the rest of us have developed a lasting relationship with the weather channel on TV. I don’t remember the last time I lay on the ground to look at the stars. I can see a good portion of the galaxy on online videos.
    Exploration is now a thing of the past. Why would I waste my time, spend a lot of money and inconvenience myself by visiting Yellowstone park, the grand canyon or the alps when I can simply view stunning images of these places on my iphone, ipad, or discovery channel. I think one has to be proactive and creative and take the initiative to maintain one’s sense of discovery and relationship with nature. So I think technology has stolen some of our passion and relationship with nature.
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    May 24 2013: All the animal population except that of humans, would probably be larger in count, and yet it seems the problem of imbalance with nature does not arise in their world. Put humans into picture and the scenery changes. With the so-called development and human evolution, especially over the last three hundred odd years of insane technological gains, we seem to have crossed the limits. Now we do not live on earth in harmony with nature, but are trying to control the so many factors. While we do so, we first exploit nature, then we try to access the harm it caused and then we try to find ways to restore the balance... which in turn imbalances something else...because everything we use today is made in a factory somewhere on this planet... and this factory again uses/exploits the resources available to its own advantage.

    Well, leave one neighbourhood without human intervention for ten years and you would find nature to have restored the balance there.
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    May 24 2013: (I know it's kinda cliche but...) It depends.

    It's a tool. It depends on how we use it then.
  • May 15 2013: NO.

    But control of tech by others might.

    Ease of access to info is great for gardening, but info for farming research is all controlled by corporations using research students to further their RandD.

    I vote we get rid of all for profit corporations, and let the hippie chicks run the world. Really.

    Also recommend the book "death of nature" to get the big picture.
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    May 15 2013: I feel technology rather helps us to understand nature better hence establish the relationship......
    Finally it depends how one uses the technology.
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    May 13 2013: When we think of technology, we tend to think of something prevalent in our life, such as the internet, automobiles and nuke plants. And most of those require energy in forms of electricity, heat, nuclear materials, or whatever forms that can be used to produce energy. These energy resources are associated with nature, and by trying to extract energy from natural products, we are blowing up nature. Destroying nature is just a side effect of using technology. However, some researchers are attempting to develop new promising technologies (like artificial photosynthesis) that can provide energy without compromising nature protection.

    As many people have pointed out, we humans have considerably degraded our relationship with nature by using technology. But in this overpopulated situation where the global population seems to be reaching or possibly have excessed the earth's capacity, it is also technology that may potentially enable us to save our planet and rebuild a new relationship with nature.
  • May 9 2013: I think technology in your question should be replaced by science. Because science is the result of one or more questions: why, what, when, etc. And technology is created to answer the (science) question. We first came up with the question 'how do I move my stuff around more easily' before we invented the wheel.
    The trouble with science is that the answer to an initial question will raise more (new) questions. The more answers we find, the more questions will be raised (and the technology will be developed to answer them).
    Science forces us into rational thinking. There is no intuitive way to proof a theory, you need evidence, hard data. And rational thinking destroys our relationship with nature.
    Look at indigenous tribes like the aboriginals in australia or indians in the amazone. They do not have science and they have a great relationship with nature
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    May 8 2013: I don't think that Technology is destroying our relationship with the mighty nature, as we all know that 'Technology' is an invention of the mankind only. Everything that excess in life eventually become poisonous itself...Same thing is applicable for the technology too...
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    May 3 2013: Personally I feel it is living in industrial-age cities and not technology, which is degrading to people’s connection the nature. I grow-up in a city and now I live on a small farm with far more technology then I had when growing-up, and yet I’m far more connected to nature than ever. When I’m at work in the city, I don’t hear the frogs or vast verity of birds.
    And when I’m home my cell-phone, plasma TV, weed eater, don’t stop me from noticing what’s plants are budding or flowering, what wild life is abundant or rarely seen in a year.
  • May 3 2013: It is true that we are a part of nature. Nowadays technology is making us go away from nature and its beauty. But it is also allowing us to love and come near nature.

    For example :
    It was through technology that we used petroleum and its products as fuel. This polluted our environment.
    However, technology also drew us closer to nature by bringing to our minds the idea of utilizing solar energy through solar panels.
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      May 3 2013: and how are solar panels made? what happens to solar panels when then cannot be used anymore?
      • May 9 2013: Yusuf, I was intrigued by this question, and when I googled it, I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of results that specialize in solar panel recycling!

        "The process which allows recycling of silicon in old solar panels is called wet-chemical treatment process. Wet-chemical treatment process is a rather complex process in which silicon wafers are wetted and etched free of dust and soiling agents. The only downside with this method is that each solar panel manufacturer uses their own techniques to produce silicon wafers and therefore each manufacturer is only able to recycle their own solar panels."

        Perhaps this will change, however, as solar energy becomes increasingly popular?
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          May 9 2013: perhaps so, but as i mentioned earlier, we need to look deeper till we find the interface with our environments! like for example, the solar panel recycling plant, how do we get the chemicals used to recycle them? does that have an effect on the environment? how much electricity do those places use to recycle the solar panels? to what state can the solar panels be recycled and how many times can we recycle them till we cannot anymore?

          I understand that in essence we cannot really change the fact that we affect our environments substantially, but atleast if we are less naive to the effects of our actions, we may strive to find ways to reduce this effect!
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    May 3 2013: i feel that you are looking at the effect and not the cause. Technology doesn't destroy our relationship with nature. It merely gives us an avenue with which to do so. We on the other hand choose what our relationship with nature is! like this if i may: we can use technology to grow a garden in the most arid place on earth, here, technology is actually helping us strengthen our relationship with Nature.
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    R H 30+

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    May 3 2013: I think we're finally beginning to realized that we are nature and nature is us. We've used nature as a 'tool' in the past to be exploited, but now we're beginning to understand that by doing so, we're only exploiting ourselves. Harmony is the new word. Sustainability is the new direction. The more we learn about nature, the more unlimited is our potential.
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    May 3 2013: Biomimicry is one of the best ways of guiding and inspiring the technology we produce.

    In finding solutions to problems, it may be surprising to find that nature got there first:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_pawlyn_using_nature_s_genius_in_architecture.html

    This could be a way of reacquainting ourselves with nature through more enlightened technological development.
  • May 3 2013: I think that our relationship with nature is ofcourse being degraded in a way but that reflects how we view the nature and how we relate it to humans.For example The invention of Electricity had been one of the greatest beauty of nature which was revealed by scientist all around the world 100s of years before.They considered nature to be the ultimate stuff govering the entire universe.This discovery proves in a way to respect the wonder of Nature and therefore places Nature in top most priority for those men.But if we look through a mindset of an unknown guy who is simply there to take advantage and use of this electricity for the sake of fulfilling his desire or to make money then in reality he may actually praise nature but in practical sense he may never seem to notice its beauty but to consume its richness is all he wants.So at a conclusive note i think that nature doesnt care whether it is praised or ignored by humans but wat is important is that one day or the other Nature will surely make that person praise and feel blessed by nature..And you nvr know if tht too is a law of Nature :)
  • May 3 2013: ...technology can never destroy our relationship with Nature...the destroyer is the greed of power and hunger of recognition behind it; interfering into and eyeing on the life of others...more we are developing in technology more insecurities and greed are w creating...

    The purpose and side effects must be seen to prevent that...

    regards

    The Mindfood Chef
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      May 3 2013: Luckily there's enough money and brains in the world to save it before it's too late.

      Regards.
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    May 2 2013: You are right and I LIVE & WORK in nature so believe me I understand but when using technology especially on a regular basis your brain does process information faster due to the high levels of input. I find after a few hours in the tech world its so nice to shut my brain off and be in the ocean. The balance is a rewarding and peaceful life.
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      May 2 2013: Jessica,
      I believe this is a response to my comment to you? Here's a little technical information. To keep the comments in sequence, you can reply directly to my comment......see the little red "reply" in the upper right corner? Try it.....you'll like it....LOL:>)

      You DO indeed live and work in nature.....I just looked at your profile and a closer look at your profile photo....Kudos to you.....great shot:>)

      And I agree with you......balance is a rewarding and peaceful life.
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        May 2 2013: Ahhhh thank you Colleen :) for everything
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          May 2 2013: You are welcome Jessica.....my pleasure....good job:>)
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    May 2 2013: I think one of the biggest problems is technology makes us think so fast and we are used to mass quantities of input to our brains. When you have a relationship with nature you have to slow down & have patience. The answers don't come to you. One has to think and engage. Our society is giant stepping away from this kind of thinking. It's really sad.
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      May 2 2013: Hi Jessica,

      I suggest that technology does not "make" us do anything. We always have a choice to engage with technology, with nature, or both. If we can find the balance that works for us as individuals, perhaps both nature and technology can work together?

      I believe they CAN work together, and it is demonstrated all the time. Technology is educating us more about how the body/mind systems work, for example. When there is more information available, about our natural functions, we can understand more about ourselves.
  • May 2 2013: No.

    It is impossible for technology to destroy our relationship with nature.

    Colleen Steen is correct, it is a matter of perception.

    We are an aspect of nature, and so is technology.

    Humans have considered themselves separate from nature from time immemorial. Consider the first books of the Bible, Genesis. The entire thrust of the story is that humans and nature are separate and distinct. God gives man dominance over nature; nature is to be used to suit our needs. It is no wonder that it took until the 19th century for our scientists to rediscover evolution. (In contrast the natives of Alaska considered themselves to be related to other mammals.)

    That very common perception, that man is distinct from nature, is incorrect.

    We must fully comprehend the primary lesson of evolution, that we are animals, we are part of nature and not separate from nature, This lesson must become part of us. It must shape our every thought, word and action the way our continuous experience with gravity affects our every movement. When this lesson becomes part of us, technology will be seen as another part of nature, a product of one of the animals. Also, the willful destruction of our environment will become impossible.
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      May 2 2013: Another good point from you Barry.....we are an aspect of nature....we have created technology, and there is no reason why we cannot balance BOTH in our everyday life.....it is a choice in each and every moment.

      Another good point....certain beliefs cause humans to feel seperate. We have been told that we are the most intelligent, and I wonder about that at times. Why would the most intelligent creature in nature destroy the earth which sustains us? Native americans always recognized and honored the interconnectedness with all people and the earth, as did many ancient cultures.
      • May 2 2013: The ecologist David Suzuki often describes humans as being a "force of nature" - that is to say that nothing has shaped the entire planet and environment in such an immense and powerful way then how humans have. We are affecting oceans, forests, air quality, and other creatures in a way that wasn't possible for any other creature prior to our existence. I believe (and I'm not 100% certain so don't take my word on this) that he says the last animal that had nearly as much influence on the planet were dinosaurs, and the only other natural force that has had a similar global effect caused the extinction of dinosaurs.

        I find Native Americans and aboriginals in Australia inspiring when I think about this. They see the world in a completely different manner than the rest of us. An interconnected weaving and connection between man and nature is deeply engraved in their culture, and it is a true wonder to hear them talk about nature. There was a time when humans had such a strong sense of nature and the planet that all members of a tribe could tell you where true north is, what plants were safe to eat, and so much more amazing knowledge of the environment around them. These days, we rely heavily on GPS to tell us where to go, and if you were to drop me in the middle of the forest, I'd probably eat a poisonous plant by accident.
  • May 1 2013: When one asks a child where does the milk come from?, does the child say "cows" or Walmart?
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      May 2 2013: Hi Adriaan......that is too funny. But, true!

      I remember a while back when I was teaching a unit on "corn"......yes "corn", to second graders, I got the idea of taking some Orville Reddenboker kernels and a pot and hot plate to class and enjoy freshly popped corn with the class.

      To my surprise, all the kids were wild about the fact that it was corn kernels that popped and became fluffly white treats.

      Why?

      Because all they saw at home was a sealed bag go into the microwave......noone, not even their own parents, had explained what was inside the bag. (sob sob sniff)

      Unbelievable......but true.
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    May 1 2013: We control/use technology, and it how we use it that decide where it takes us.
    So far this year I use technology to learn about holistic management, more on composting, buy seeds and learning how to sow them, creating a raise garden bed, etc etc. so each of us decide if our shovel will plant a tree, or place concrete.