Comments on: The internet we breathe /2011/09/21/the-internet-we-breathe/ Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Thu, 21 Feb 2013 22:21:04 +0000 hourly 1 By: Oz /2011/09/21/the-internet-we-breathe/#comment-12 Oz Wed, 05 Oct 2011 16:17:04 +0000 /?p=64#comment-12 This is frightening to me: "1 in 3 college students and employees ranks the internet as a fundamental resource for the human race – right up there with air, water, food and shelter....life without the internet is no longer a viable option" Clean air and fresh water are the product of naturally occurring eco-services - i.e. they are provided gratis by the workings of the eco-systems of which we are part and to which we are connected. So we don't need to 'do' anything to receive them (although it would certainly help if we stopped destroying those ecosystems and natural processes which process them for us). Food and shelter - in terms of needs - can be provided for via relatively little effort or infrastructure or knowledge. Humans have known how to provide these goods with relative ease for some 10,000 years or so, though this is much easier to accomplish in the absence of excess population and crushing poverty that arrived with "civilization". But - the internet? Which technologies and resources are needful in order to provide us with the internet? Quite a staggering number, as it turns out. Which means we are claiming as a 'fundamental resource' a thing the existence of which demands what we know are utterly unsustainable and harmful manufacturing processes, economic models, etc. As just one example, the devices we use to access the internet require rare earth elements, the mining of which creates vastly toxic situations in places like China, along with a skyrocketing incidence of cancer and auto-immune disorders among those living and working nearby. See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html I wonder how may Prius owners - or utility customers selecting for 'clean wind power' - are aware that their 'green' choices have in fact contributed to such degradation in both human health and in ecosystems around the world? Or how many iPhone users, for that matter? There are also a large number of dependencies on technological processes - ranging from semiconductor fabrication to polymerization processes - which are necessary to continue to provide the network hardware to sustain the internet. Those industrial processes also dramatically impact environmental well being. And, the current dominant global economic model - in essence, a model which demands infinite economic growth from a finite planet - is yet another dependency. And it's become evident that this model serves only a very small percentage of the global population in terms of increasing well being. So the question becomes: what happens when a small but affluent subset of world population begins to view itself as entitled to a 'fundamental resource' - when provision of that resource demands exploitation and oppression of less affluent populations and the degradation of the environment in which they live? History's answer is perfectly clear, unfortunately. Further, it is a very short step from viewing something as a fundamental resource, to arguing that access to said resource is a 'right' - like a 'right' to quality health care, or a 'right' to quality education. All of these 'rights' are no such thing, because they must be provided by other people's time and work - and if you claim to have the right to demand some other person's effort be expending to provide you with a good or serve, you have just outlined the justification for slavery. Methinks it's a slippery slope we're on here... - Oz This is frightening to me:

“1 in 3 college students and employees ranks the internet as a fundamental resource for the human race – right up there with air, water, food and shelter….life without the internet is no longer a viable option”

Clean air and fresh water are the product of naturally occurring eco-services – i.e. they are provided gratis by the workings of the eco-systems of which we are part and to which we are connected. So we don’t need to ‘do’ anything to receive them (although it would certainly help if we stopped destroying those ecosystems and natural processes which process them for us).

Food and shelter – in terms of needs – can be provided for via relatively little effort or infrastructure or knowledge. Humans have known how to provide these goods with relative ease for some 10,000 years or so, though this is much easier to accomplish in the absence of excess population and crushing poverty that arrived with “civilization”.

But – the internet? Which technologies and resources are needful in order to provide us with the internet? Quite a staggering number, as it turns out. Which means we are claiming as a ‘fundamental resource’ a thing the existence of which demands what we know are utterly unsustainable and harmful manufacturing processes, economic models, etc.

As just one example, the devices we use to access the internet require rare earth elements, the mining of which creates vastly toxic situations in places like China, along with a skyrocketing incidence of cancer and auto-immune disorders among those living and working nearby. See for example:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

I wonder how may Prius owners – or utility customers selecting for ‘clean wind power’ – are aware that their ‘green’ choices have in fact contributed to such degradation in both human health and in ecosystems around the world?

Or how many iPhone users, for that matter?

There are also a large number of dependencies on technological processes – ranging from semiconductor fabrication to polymerization processes – which are necessary to continue to provide the network hardware to sustain the internet. Those industrial processes also dramatically impact environmental well being.

And, the current dominant global economic model – in essence, a model which demands infinite economic growth from a finite planet – is yet another dependency. And it’s become evident that this model serves only a very small percentage of the global population in terms of increasing well being.

So the question becomes: what happens when a small but affluent subset of world population begins to view itself as entitled to a ‘fundamental resource’ – when provision of that resource demands exploitation and oppression of less affluent populations and the degradation of the environment in which they live? History’s answer is perfectly clear, unfortunately.

Further, it is a very short step from viewing something as a fundamental resource, to arguing that access to said resource is a ‘right’ – like a ‘right’ to quality health care, or a ‘right’ to quality education. All of these ‘rights’ are no such thing, because they must be provided by other people’s time and work – and if you claim to have the right to demand some other person’s effort be expending to provide you with a good or serve, you have just outlined the justification for slavery.

Methinks it’s a slippery slope we’re on here…

- Oz

]]>