Jan 30 ENV222 lecture notes.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
School of Environment
Geoffrey Mac Donald

8) Jan. 30 Causes (and solution): Technology Ehrlich, Paul R. andAnne H. Ehrlich (2004). "Chapter 5 Technology Matters." One With Nineveh. Washington: Island Press. pp. 138-180. ! ! Lecture outline ! 1. Defining technology . physical artefact created by humans to meet human needs; "machine" . human organization around the machine; eg, the factory - production is centralized in one place, with humans working on assembly lines; eg, the low-density suburb - a form of living only possible with quick, cheap transportation made possible by the motor vehicle; reader p. 140 "also includes the social, economic, and political arrangements" . machine used by humans, plus machine which replaces humans; robot, eg Watson, who/ which can win at Jeopardy, or Deep Blue who/which beat the world chess champion ! 2. Technology and economic growth . increases productivity of labour, so creates wealth (same inputs generates greater output) . creates demand "computer-games designers invented a product that humanity never knew it needed but now cannot do without" Economist Jan. 18-24, 2014, p. 9; increased demand means more production, higher economic growth ! If new technology can always create new human demand, the prospects of putting limits on demand, and therefore economic growth, become dim. ! . allows capital (money used to buy machines) to replace human labour as input to production process; eg, computer means secretaries are no longer hired to operate typewriters; robot on assembly line replaces human worker; increases capital available for investment, so increases economic growth, although at same time increases unemployment and wealth inequality ! 3. Historical development of technology . origins with first emergence of human species . basis of transfer to fixed settlement, agricultural society . key factor is acceleration in post-Renaissance period . plus, development of machines driven by fossil-fuel energy, eg steam engine . 18 century creation of factory system, centred on the large machine, eg textiles . 19 century marriage of science and technology; eg chemistry, leading to products like pesticides . World War I and mechanization of warfare . 20the c. accelerating increase in capability of machines ! !1 4. Technology as chooser . once a new technology becomes wide-spread, it takes human life down different paths . eg, motor vehicle - suburb . eg, atomic bomb - threat of nuclear war/terrorist attack . eg, mobile communications device - loss of self ! But, humans do not make a rational, self-interested choice because: 1) we are not aware of implications when first adopt a new technology; 2) adopted largely in the decentralized market, due to demand which the machine itself created. See also reader p. 170 for argument market cannot choose, because externalities of the technology (eg pollution) are not included in price. ! 5. Energy technologies To address the problem of climate change, we need to do two things: . increase efficiency of energy use . change to energy sources which do not emit greenhouse gases But, we face challenges
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