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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.

  • 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

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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: 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?
    • 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.
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    W. Ying

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    May 1 2013: .
    .
    My answer:

    Yes!
    It does.
    Also, it leads us to self-extinction.
  • May 1 2013: I do not think so. However, there is competition for available time.

    Nature is grounding, the source of inspiration, and often provides an example of a solution to problems that technology can use a a starting point.

    I think nature serves as a gauge for recalibration of the soul when it is lost in the rhetoric of technological communication brainwashing and overloading. The pace of nature calms the nerves and excites the senses with passive inputs that are soothing and refreshing.
  • May 29 2013: for arguments about technology also being natural- if there is a heriarchy it will go- animal, vegetal, mineral, digital? we are just engaging with manifestations of the "natural world" that are in some way more removed from our own inherent natures. I would not say there is a destruction of our relationship with nature (unless we speak of pollution etc) but a distancing. Doe snot mean the bridges have burnt. We are only growing less familiar with those paths, and so perhaps that connection becomes all the more magical due to its rarity?
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    May 29 2013: ....
    Yes. Obviously.

    just look at the trend lines - the measures of the state of the natural world.

    How can we have a sane relationship with the natural world which is being transformed in such a negative way. But it is more that technology, uncontrolled and in the wrong hands, being used in service of human greed or indifference or simple ignorance of the consequences, which is at fault. One might as well ask - Will greater scientific understanding destroy our species? It very well could, as it is a race between those who would use that understanding in the form of technology for good, and those who would exploit it for gain with no thought to the consequences.

    We, or at least some of us, are parasites who are killing our host
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    May 29 2013: Technology is a product of the human animal. So in a sense, technology is natural.
    However, humans are driving many species to extinction.
    We do this by the destruction of habitat on land via deforestation and in the oceans by dynamting and scraping habitat off the floors of the ocean when trawling.
    In fresh water humans destroy habitat by draining rivers and lakes to drink and use in the production of goods and agriculture.
    We are over explinting naturally produced crops, killing too many natural animals and fish, killing bushmeat, overharvesting the oceans.
    People moving from one place to another could introduce dangerous species into new habitats that could completely destroy the ecosystem. They bring these dangerous species in the hauls of boats, or even the soil of their shoes.
    Even worse, humans have created tens of thousands of new chemicals that pollute the earth. Phearmecuticals, plastic products, pestecides, herbecides.
    These chemicals can last decades before being broken down.
    There is also acid deposition that is a result of massive amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, which is created when CO2 mixes with water making carbonic adid.
    We also displace naturally occuring metals through mining, which is devistating to numerous species. Lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and so on. We mine these to use in industry, and moving them around leads to contaminations.
    There is also ultraviolet radiation caused by holes in the ozone layer, which we caused by these chemicals. This radiation kills species and messes them up.
    War threatens nature. Displaced peoples due to conflict are oft forced to live off the land. landmines kill animals, so do bombs.
    Climate change causes habitat range change, introducing species to areas with no predators, killin more species. Warm oceans cause coral reefs to lose their algae and die. But even worse, phystoplankton can't live, and they are the bottom of the ocean's food chain, so all species will die.
    Melting sea i
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    May 29 2013: A lot of answers are taking the question literally and are no help.

    I don't think it's our technology that's the problem. As usual, the real issue lies in the subtleties of the wording.

    It's our mode of operation that utilises technology that is the problem as it currently operates. Adjusting this is the way forward. In that regard, technology will help us reconcile with nature.

    Change takes time and necessity is the mother of invention.
  • May 28 2013: A. Why would one assume that technology is not natural in and of itself? At what point did it separate? If a smartphone or supermarkets are not natural, what about a blow gun? Before blow guns......flint knives.......are they natural? A monkey using a stick to find food......natural?

    If you go even deeper. Is technology in itself, not just a manifestation of our own nature? More interesting therefore maybe;

    How should we grow within technology and what will nature continue to become?
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    May 28 2013: Q: Does Technology destroy our relationship with Nature?

    A: I don't know.
    Other questions might be, can we aspire to create technology that is respectful of nature, is essentially, nature-friendly and what exactly does that look like?
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      May 28 2013: Warren,
      Other questions........one question leads to the next.....!

      Can technology be "respectful of nature"? Does technology make choices? Does technology think and feel?
      My guess is that it does not. So, perhaps it is humans who decide how to use technology?
  • May 28 2013: Personally I don't believe that technology destroys the Nature by itself. The relationship between the two actually depends on the humans who make use of technology. In the general case, if everybody currently lives on earth practices burning coal and wood for heating and cooking and discarding their wastes everywhere, I don't think that our environment would be that much better off. This is mainly because we have so many more people living here on earth than one or two thousand years ago.
    Let's face the reality, it is not possible for us to return to the primitive standard of living without the existing technology. Few people might wish to do so, but the majority would not. Just look at the few European countries under the austerity policies. What you see is disturbance and demonstration and voters' rebellion to vote the government out, even though some of the policy of austerity just involves increase in working hours or reduction of vacation days.
    On the other hand, the "destruction" caused by new technology are mostly dependent on the control of emission of air and water pollutants which can be reduced to minimum by the human management. Imaging that we will make food containers, cloth, paper, etc. manually instead of machines. Imaging how much more materials and manual labor would be wasted and probably we won't save the environment much, or not at all. In essence, the damages to environment are really controlled by human consciousness rather than unavoidable outcome in the application of technology. In my opinion, the technology of mass production of most of our necessities should REDUCE WASTE AND ENVIRONMENT DAMAGE, rather than its destruction. In other word I would say that the destruction is rather due to the reckless or unconscientious use of technology by man.
    My argument does not contradict the principle of conservation, rather, we should pursue the principle of conservation of nature and its resources, with technology which saves natural resources
  • May 28 2013: Self awareness has enables us to realize the invaluable gift of life. Our more distant ancestors likely sensed the precious nature of existence more keenly than we do because as beautiful as nature can be, it can also be harsh almost beyond description which resulted in what must have seem to be a fleeting life span by todays standards.

    Our consequent ability to communicate and innovate improved the quality and longevity of our lives considerably. It is now possible to live in technological circumstances where the artificial (human made or modified) component of one's environment contrasts so sharply from years past as to appear to be a brave new world to our not so distant ancestors. One thing has not changed we are still bound by our natural origin and history.

    The state of technology may diminish our appreciation and respect for the role of the nature in our natural history, but that could be said of religion as well. The added risk expanded technology poses could well be in disrupting our earthly well being as an unintended consequence of ideas and products such as the Hydrogen Bombs, Organically Modified Organisms, etc.

    It could be argued that it takes two to tango. Technology has played a key role in health, food advances, etc., yet our natural urge to reproduce babies remains in full steam causing world population numbers to soar because babies seldom die and we all live longer which in turn puts strain and more demands on technology to serve the exploding human population needs, which in turn becomes even more exotic and worrysome because there is a limit.
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    May 28 2013: While I wouldn't say that the relationship between nature and technology is one purely of "destruction," I have a hard time believing that it is wholly positive. Take, for example, the contemporary childhood of your average American (sorry for the self-focus but this is the society in which I have largely grown up and feel that I can judge most accurately). The advances in leisure that technology has afforded the average American family in recent years are tremendous, ranging from computers, to cell phones, to television, etc. In the most practical sense, time spent with these new technologies and subsequent luxuries is time away from what many would call the more "natural pursuits" in which the previous generations were heavily involved, such as romping through the woods, climbing trees, swimming in streams, and the like. It does not even have to be exercises or activities as specific as these, but simply that children and we, as humans, experience something that we have not completely fabricated. I feel it is exactly this ratio of time with "fruits of technology" vs. "fruits of nature" that modern technology has heavily skewed.

    On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, a child could be a generally active, healthy, and nature-conscious individual who sits down once a week with his or her family, watches a show like PBS's Nature, and becomes inspired to devote his/her life to curbing global deforestation. In this case, the luxuries of technology have done nothing but good to both enhance and enrich an individual's love and appreciation for the natural world. Sadly, I have a feeling that the former case is more prevalent in contemporary American society.This, I would say that while technology can be a powerful tool in our understanding of nature, because of the context in which the masses of most industrialized societies interact with the fruits of technology, it (generally) does more to complicate and hinder our relationship with nature rather than aid it.
  • May 26 2013: I just watch an interesting documentary about this very subject.

    There has to be no doubt that we technology wise are effecting nature and that effect I believe is much more significant than most realize.

    The is a great deal of similarity posed in the documentary, if as far back as we know, was the ancient Egyptians, and that was say 2500bc to today that makes approx 4000-5000 years of duration, our total cultural experience timeline.


    The documentary posed the questions; What kind of life, existence, peoples, planet will exist in 100,000 years?

    100,000 years - that's the lifetime of hazardous nuclear waste.

    What do we do with it? How can we safely dispose of it? What will our planet be like in 100,000 years?


    The name of the documentary is "Into Eternity".

    It's a fascinating look at a subject that's related to the question - technology - power consumption - nature - the future, and man's impact on the far foreseeable world.
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      May 26 2013: Even in nature, nuclear materials have lives. If man has used natural nuclear materials to some extent and then returns them to "nature".... one might call this waste, maybe because man is done with it, but it is not physically significantly changed. I think you give man more credit then he is due.

      Man is just another life form on this earth and not even the biggest or the most. Some will say not even the smartest. Granted we have learned to use tools to resolves some of our physical handicaps, i.e. breaking stones with our bare hands or seeing well in the dark with lamps. Yet, I can make an argument that we are not that high on the grand scale of life on earth.
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    May 25 2013: The consensus seems to be that it does. But, I wonder. If we define nature as that of all life around us, from the universe above, to the buttercup growing at our feet, I have to disagree. I know that technology has risen to the level of a deity for some and is spoken of in hushed tones as one might expect to hear in an old medieval cathedral, I say technology is simply ... just fancy tools. Some maybe not even so fancy. Technology may be simply there to help us better understand nature. But I am not ready to blame technology for any destruction, it's people. People have relationships. not tools.
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    May 24 2013: "Nature" by nature is not judgmental. Therefore we are in a one way relationship.
  • May 20 2013: Human beings have been destroying things since the dawn of man. As always it's about the quality of the people who inhabit the world and their ability to perceive the world correctly and then do the right thing once that understanding is acquired.
  • May 19 2013: Nathan,

    There are 2 aspects to it,
    1/ If we look at the amount of time that people spend with nature, it might seem as if it is reducing as more people are spending more time with technology- mobile, laptop, tablets etc. So the impact here is not only with nature but also with people - face to face interactions seem to reducing.

    2/ the overall understanding of nature and the impact of man made problems on nature is getting communicated, thanks to social media. Also with the amount of technology advancements now, we are able to run many high power programs in an efficient and effective way. For example, there is a great deal of improvements possible today to make early warnings for earthquakes by correlating seismic data, storm data, human and animal behavior.

    So one one side of the relationship technology is helping us understand nature better, hence reduce negative impact but on the other side, perhaps we are getting too stuck to technology that we end up spending lesser time with nature.

    Regards
    Ramesh
    Twitter @Ramesh_Ramki website. Www.futuristCMO.com
  • May 18 2013: There's no reason to think that. And good reasons to see technology as a bridge to nature. I grew up in the 60's in NYC when there were no cell phones, texting, Internet, video games etc. Our schooling was believed to be good "catholic" educations. We thought absolutely nothing of pushing an automobile into a creek and lighting it on fire as whooping it up around it. Nothing whatever told us that that car would remain there creating a toxic waste situation in a tidal creek. We had no connection whatever to nature. In fact we had no connection whatever to each other except as friend or foe. bully or victim. There was no such thing--and there still isn't--called "social development" in which we could have learned that there is great value behind even the most unlikeliest of appearances. My duty in school was to shut up. My duty at home was to shut up and stop making noise so my dad could hear the Mets game on his radio. I learned last night you can download an ap for your smartphone, scan products at a supermarket and if you don't like the ecological or political agendas of the causes your goods manufacturers are linked to, you can instantly boycott them. That doesn't necessarily connect me with nature, but it gives me motivating power I wish I would have had all my life. Education in cities should start with bringing kids and showing them the remainders of the crimes against ecology that people walked passed for generations and saw as normal. When I was kind, I'd by an ice cream pop and throw the wrapper right on the street. All I know is it was gone the next day. It got so bad in the 70's--the cattle cars with graffiti that had become our subways to work and school that some sanity started to rear it's head. By the time I left NY a few years ago I went to the Peace Bell Ceremony at the UN every Earth Day morning. Shouldn't have taken 45 years to get there.
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    May 16 2013: Before we even start asking whether or not Technology negatively impacts our relationship with Nature, we should consider what Nature and Technology do for Humans.
    Nature: The fundamental source of life. The elements and processes allow humans to live.
    Technology: A product of Nature. We need the ecological process to work and our elements to stay pure.
    Its funny how you ask whether Technology destroy our relationship with Nature. If we continue to over consume and deplete our resources there will be no more nature to have a connection with.
    Technology progresses our culture, creates opportunities for many to communicate across the world. If we did not have forms of technology we would not be able to make these connections with people on an international level. Technology has also allowed scientist to make new found discoveries about nature.
    I don't believe technology destroys our relationship with nature. I believe it is our choice that destroys our lack of stewardship with Nature.
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    May 15 2013: Nathan, that is a very big topic. I actually like the book on nature and technology by Heidegger: The Question Concerning Technology
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    May 15 2013: "Imagine if all the scientists used that used technology to design weapons of war, had their talents put towards technology that better serves all human needs in the world? "

    Yes, I've imagined that since I was a little kid.... Read a few books about the idea.

    But..... it is what it is.

    The big mountain in the way is how to turn that around to as more socially benign situation where we are more friendly and less trashy with the environment.


    Not such an easy task.
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    May 15 2013: Not if it is used efficiently. Currently what our technology produces is far from efficient (with a few exceptions) because to make a profit every company, business, industry, and corporation must be cost-efficient, meaning they have to lower costs of production in every step to guarantee a profitable return. Which also guarantee's inefficiency in products (cheaper source of energy/labor rather than updated but more expensive methods) - and of course this is all so that bushinesses stay competitive and generate affordable prices to consumers. So consumers keep becoming unsatisfied with their current inefficient, unsustainable products and go back to by the more updated, yet still inefficient, product (planned obsolescence) - an example is apple, that releases a new iPhone almost every year with only "minor" enhancements giving consumers the illusion of a newer, more efficient phone.

    But this is also why every life supporting system on earth is in decline from pollution in water killing millions of marine life animals and plantations, to the air quality declining because of the overuse of fossil fuels (which once again is one of the cheapest sources of energy, and is what our economy runs on basically) - so you see its not technology that is harming nature, it is the inefficient products created by our technology that is declining the health of nature so rapidly.

    This can never change with our current economic system, for inefficiency, and scarcity, are what drive our economies and businesses. And the more you see GDP rise in a country, the more ineffiecent products become, higher necessity of human and enviornmental conditions.
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    May 15 2013: It is not technology that destroys nature. It is the greed of man and the "misuse" of technology that destroys nature. TNT was meant to preserve lives, the misuse of it endangered and destroyed lives. The power of nuclear fusion/fission was used in bomb weapons, it later became a source for "clean" energy. Good and Evil uses for technology will always be an option for humans to think about, its about who is in charge when the final decision is made on the uses of certain technology.
  • May 15 2013: Every natural process on Earth is a direct process of evolution, or shapes evolution. Tools and technology are no different by this model. We are not in a relationship with nature. We are a force of nature. Do you remember Mr. Smith's comparison of Homo Sapiens to viruses in "The Matrix"? I do not take such a dim view. Even viruses serve a purpose.
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    May 14 2013: Whose relationship with nature? The relationship of a city dweller or that of a farm labourer?
  • May 13 2013: Necessity is the mother of innovation or something like that... trust me Humans are still a child species and technology is still at its infancy. In 100 yeas GMOs and other bio-tech are going to be used to grow tropical fruits in
    cold climates and bring back extinct animals along with much more.. We also are not going to be using electricity and fossill fuels that much longer. Give time a chance science and technology has much in store for the whole planet and then space.. yup research some of the visions NASA has for the next half century!
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    May 13 2013: I understand why you would have this concern as an enviromentalist but I must say the answer doesn't have to be yes. I equally love nature and technology. I spend some time researching some places where I can be of help to nature. I also learn through the web about new advances in our world. I can be present to events that I couldn't be if I had not had technology. I also equally spend my own time outside in the world and doing some hands-on learning on the world around me. That is because I care about the topic. Nature is a beautiful thing and I believe it deserves my time and my efforts to know more about it. There are some people who feel that techonology tears us away from it... that's all a choice. You can easily ask if nature takes us away from technological progress and the answer again could be yes. That all depends on the individual. That was a great question thank you for opening it up to us TEDsters :D
  • May 13 2013: No, we are just idiots who doesnt see the consequence of things.
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    May 13 2013: There is enough on earth for our needs but not for our greed.

    We need to connect technology with sprituality to save or preserve mother nature.
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    May 11 2013: I think the biggest impact on nature because of technology is due to the need of resources to manufacture products.

    End of Story.

    Human waste is perhapse the biggest destructor of nature. We manufacture products that really don't last very long so cheaply that it is as cheap to replace them rather than repair and resuse. Of course Plastic is the number one culprit in this issue.

    When I was a young man, during the 60's, recycling was very much a profitable interprise, with products made from glass, paper and metal. Now, plastic has repaced almost every product we use. The economy changed. Because fossil fuel is such a necessary element of plastic, we poked holes in the ground everywhere. Becase electrical and heat energy is essential to produce these products, we blew away tops of mountains to gather coal.

    Cheap to manufacture products that don't necessirily have to be recycled to produce more of the same products will continue to accumulate and clutter the earth.

    Most people don't realize that when you burn a gallon of gas in your car, the weight almost equal to the whole gallon is spewed out by the car as unused products of gas and particulates. Only a miniscult part of the whole weight of a gallon of gas in used to make the car move. The rest, as waste, is spit into the natural environment and mixes with the air, dirt and water of our planet. It does not magically evaporate into outer space, as some people really believe.

    I belive we have already reache tippiing point and we will continue to see energetic natural responces to the products we are spewing out into the natural environment due to the increasing speed that technology is generating newer technology to replace older technology.

    I remember the 70's and 80's, when I and other computer and electronic technicians and engineers were predicting the impact our evolving technologies would have on the environment and society. So far, everything we predicted has come to reality. People should pay attention.
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      May 15 2013: Its not the "technology" that has impacted our environment and society, its need need for continuous consumption, in a world where technology has adapted to produce more and more finite products (oil, coal, fresh water), you can always expect to see a downward decline of all life supporting systems and product efficiency.

      But once again, our economy is founded on cyclical consumption (continuous growth) so producers cannot make efficient and sustainable products, for there is no profit and they would quickly go out of business. Understanding that, you can see how technology has been altered to such a degree to serve this inefficiency that drives our economy, and inefficiency = decline of nature. Technology serves as an extra hand to continue taking finite resources from the earth, and to continue producing more and more useless, but resource abusing, inefficient products.

      Imagine if all the scientists used that used technology to design weapons of war, had their talents put towards technology that better serves all human needs in the world? Our world would be much different than it is today, but once again there is profit in war, and our economy, you get rewarded more in $ by creating problems, not solving them.
  • May 7 2013: Initially, the reason we began to unitize technology is so that we can enhance our surroundings, rather than cause any sort of destruction to it. Nonetheless, the bias that technology holds an upper hand to nature is what caused the destruction. It lead to humans to undermine nature and its contents. Technology caused humans beings to develop the perception that we are a superior race rather than attempt to live in a harmonious manner with our surroundings and nature. Therefore, the developments in technology have gradually turned us into self centered and arrogant beings.
    therefore, the developments in technology have destroyed our relationship with nature
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    May 5 2013: People will overwhelmingly declare that they wish to coexist with nature, and they believe that it is the relationship that we are striving for. However, when our relationship with Nature affects us, people will gladly use technology to the excess to make their own lives comfortable. In the grand scheme of things, it seems to be human nature to "conquer" Nature itself, starting with the harnessing of fire, water, wind, the earth, etc. There is no ideal relationship with Nature that people can agree on. If your opinion is that we are the higher species and have the right to conquer for our own benefits, you could contend that technology certainly makes it easier to achieve this goal and the "ideal" relationship with Nature. Conversely, if your opinion is that we must coexist and treat every animal as equals on the phylogenetic tree, technology is bad in the sense that it destroys much of Nature. Ultimately, I subscribe the latter opinion and believe that technology is marvelous in itself and isn't bad, but it allows us to destroy or preserve Nature with greater ease. We must be careful with our tools.
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    May 5 2013: Technology certainly has the ability to disrupt any number of relationships, but as is the case for many things, its impact on anything is dictated by how it's used by the individual. I can think of ways where technology has been used to enhance our relationship and understanding of nature. For example, the inventions of the microscope and telescope have given us important perspective on the scale of the universe and thus, a better understanding of how we fit into it (on a very basic level). I would argue that being able to see ourselves and nature (two things that are usually viewed discretely) in the same context is fundamental to having a "healthy" relationship with nature.

    That being said, many members of society seem to be gravitating towards one of two extremes; on the one hand, there are many individuals who use technology to enhance their lives in trivial ways that create a disconnect from nature (among other things) that is quite different from the traditional human experience. Then you have those who use technology to become hyper-aware and more connected than ever. It will be interesting to see the consequences (both positive and negative) of this new dynamic.
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      R H

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      May 6 2013: I would offer that there is a third extreme, the quiet trend of developing technologies that seek to exploit, and even revolutionize, 'nature' for profit regardless of social and ethical consequences. Genetic manipulation resulting in tissue farming and cloning; psychological techniques, drugs, and inducements to manipulate personality; data compilation eroding privacy and individuality as examples of tech that will have tremendous social and 'natural' ramifications that only the wealthy will be able to manage. I would agree that 'ourselves and nature' should have a 'healthy' relationship, and that it will be very interesting, but also extremely complicated, to see the dynamic consequences of this developing coexistence.
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        May 6 2013: Excellent point. I feel the third extreme differs from the other two in that it's not typically initiated by individual members of the general public, so much as it is by corporate and governmental entities. It is, however, very much supported by the general public. If citizens declined to buy products from companies who engaged in such exploitation (to name one example), it would be far more difficult for this business model to sustain itself in the long run.
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          R H

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          May 7 2013: Thank you for responding. Would you agree that 'the use' of technology is often not as 'optional' as we would like to believe? I cannot be as competitive as needed if I do not use the latest time-saving and efficiency-generating tech that my employer requires or recommends. This often requires that I learn and become proficient, on my own time and money, with these new apparatus, or face a 'declining status of competency' with my employer. The computer is a perfect example. We could argue this is 'optional', but not really. This develops a 'power base' for tech providers. Their products no longer, in reality, have truly 'discretionary' status. The competitive companies must use their products to survive. Therefore as the new technologies I described, and many others in development, become commercially viable and potentially 'change nature' as we know it, we in the general public must face their influence in our lives, and may have some very tough choices to make.
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    May 5 2013: This is a very interesting and challenging question. I believe that the answer to this depends much on the individual who answers the question. Each and every one of us has different values, ideas and assumptions when we go forward with our lives. I think that technology could be considered like a tool therefore depending on the user it can produce different results. Having said this I believe that with the right approach technology could actually strengthen our relationship with nature. In our quest to improve and develop new technology, if we could learn to be humble enough and listen, we could draw new knowledge and inspiration from nature. There are so many unknown things that we have yet to learn from nature and that we could gain great benefits from. It’s all there, we just need to see it, listen to what it may say and learn. With the right approach nature could be our teacher, our colleague, our companion or all three. With the right approach we could use technology as a tool to improve our quality of live and strengthen our relationship with nature.
  • May 5 2013: Most technologies are disruptive and they disrupt your ability to connect with your body, other people and nature. There is too much trust in technology and this causes people to distrust instinct and overlook nature. Nature has most of the answers to all of life's problems. I would say in brief - technology mostly interrupts our relationship with nature. And most technology we can do with out. Take away air and water and what do we need an iphone for?
  • May 5 2013: My answer for this is No and yes . Technology if used in a right way and proportion can not have any negative effect .
    • May 5 2013: Exactly, Owais, it's all about finding the balance... like in everything!
      Makes me wonder, if technology is destroying our relationship with the arts? Or is this changing the subject completely...
      • May 6 2013: it depends on the way we wanna to take this question as: destruction of Man's Nature or Nature itself.
        There is no doubt that only due to Man's Nature (spirit) it has some sort of relationship with the outside Nature.
        When someone try to disturb this inner nature then spirit wanders for bliss and love to have some more comfortable place which we call as piece of mind.
        Technology has no doubt made our interaction with our inner being much more effective. The thousand of songs releasing all over the world please our soul. And there is no problem with this. Its make our bonding with our place much more interesting and strong.
        Only with this inner Nature the outside Nature is dependent. NOT OTHER WAY.
        When innovation decline and overconsumption of fuels rise then it creates problem which needs to checked by our respective governments.
  • May 5 2013: Why stop with just this one relationship?

    Let us agree to blame technology for all bad consequences, and we can take the credit for all good consequences. This will make us all feel much better about ourselves.
    • May 5 2013: Well put, Barry.
      I think that's exactly what we're doing.
      We drill holes in our earth to extract almost all our fossil fuels, create holes in the protective layer, are burying nuclear waste in the sea and can still look at all that and go, "But, it wasn't me!"
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    May 5 2013: My answer for this is NO!!!!
    Technology is an important part and the bad use of technology may destroy our relationship with nature!!
    • May 5 2013: I agree, Sam!
      It's about where the emphasis lies - if it lies on technology, then nature is 'in the way' and will be destroyed.
      If the emphasis lies on nature, technology can be utilized to strengthen our relationship with nature.
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    May 5 2013: Hi Nathan!
    Good question. Will you please let us know what is our relationship with nature? Does it have a purpose or goal? Is it a marriage of convenience or does it involve emotion, morality and ethics? I am asking because, after we understand the relationship, it may be more rational to examine your question.
  • May 4 2013: It all depends on which technology you mean and how it is used.
    Think of organic and inorganic farming. Both produce food, but each uses different technologies relating to the environment.
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    May 4 2013: We destroy our relationship with nature. Technology is just a tool. The application of any tool is defined by intent. Technology is not to blame here.
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    May 4 2013: Hey Nathan, that is a nice thought.. to learn about nature and technology relationship. Technology has created a divide amongst categories. Our ancestors had a wholistic view to every action and they were considerate about the impact. Today, technology has divided that wholistic approach, if you are studying Environment, you are taught in a manner that it is only you who knows the nature or our environment the most. But this is not the fact.

    Technology has taken us away from nature. Now you learn nature through technology. If we can learn technology from nature thats the purest and fundamental thing that can happen to our relationship.
  • May 4 2013: What are our thoughts about the hydrogen car?
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/driving-gms-new-hydrogen-car

    Besides the fact that hydrogen is extremely dangerous, it is an example of technology doing nature a favor...
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      May 4 2013: With all due respect I don't think that cars are really doing nature a favour. Consider your own body mass and that of a car. What is it you want to transport?
      • May 5 2013: I agree that cars are a necessary evil to get us from point A to point B, and fortunately there are alternatives (where I live, the bicycle is still the #1 mode of transport), but a car that produces water instead of CO2 is heading in the right direction.
  • May 4 2013: I mean that solar energy is cleaner than traditional fuels. Of course they are bit harmful. But they also help us by not producing unwanted and toxic gases.
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    May 3 2013: What relationship? There is no place on this horrible planet that can sustain a human being without technology. Eden is a myth.
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      May 3 2013: that's not true. There are just not many people that avail themselve of such places.
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        May 3 2013: Which places?
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          May 3 2013: A lot of places. I could do it where I live, but I'd need a goat, some rabbits and chickens and maybe a duck or two.
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        May 3 2013: I guess you exclude tools from technology, and the black plague from nature.
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        May 4 2013: Technology is not just cars and computers. Fire is technology, and so is a hammer. And nature includes every micro-organism out there that will kill half of every child you have if you don't have the medical technology to prevent that.
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          May 15 2013: In which case the Question is ridiculous because fire occurs naturally and a rock can be used to hammer.
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        May 15 2013: Not really. Technology comes with knowledge, because a piece of technology is something you've transformed to fit a specific use. So a rock can be a tool, but it's not technology.
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    May 3 2013: What is Environmental Literature (student) and explain the constitution of nature?

    I think these two need to be defined prior to answering your conversation.
  • May 3 2013: Hi Nathan,
    what an interesting topic!

    We live 'off the grid', which would be impossible to do without technology...

    We generate our own power using solar panels (augmented by a wind turbine) to utilize nature's inexhaustible supply of energy every single day.

    Thanks to advances in technology, we light our house with energy-saving LED light-bulbs, drive an energy-efficient car and even run a professional recording studio, all the while keeping our own impact on the environment to a minimum.
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    May 2 2013: yes, it does, luckily. nature gives us disease, lack of food, predators, parasites and such stuff. we happily break this link.
  • May 2 2013: I believe that much of humanities issues is a lack of connection to the natural world. We live in a world that is basically 'human only' where nature is carefully groomed, pets and pests are the only animals seen. This disconnect causes a sort of mental drift where we are becoming more like our machines than we should be.
  • May 2 2013: so is nature not a machine? are we not just making low tech nature?? and so what if we are should we go back to sticks and rocks and killing animals with our bare hands in order to survive while only living to around 25?
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    May 1 2013: sometimes I find nature a little boring.