Suicide And Sociology Essay, Research Paper
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Modern society relies on the advancement of technology in order to function. To increase sales, modern business must improve technology continuously. The power of the mighty dollar compels companies to disregard the welfare of the consumer and of society. Our natural resources are being jeopardized by the demand for a more efficient product. I believe that society is neglecting to account for the downstream effects of their actions. Using the essays Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Ganges Next Life by Alexander Stille and Playing God in the Garden by Michael Pollan, I intend to show that if the rape of Mother Earth continues then the future of the entire planet is in serious jeopardy.
Chris McCandless is a perfect symbol of the problems in society today. He was an adventurous young man who believed that he could do anything he wanted. This attitude is a reflection of the society that he was raised in. Like today, he was raised in a time where could do as they please. Collectively, society has a general attitude of indifference towards the outcome of their actions.
Danger has always held a certain allure. That, in large part, is why so many teenagers drive too fast and drink too much and take too many drugs, why it has always been so easy for nations to recruit young men to go to war. (Krakauer 436)
McCandless demonstrates this when he ventures into the Alaskan wilderness alone to prove that he could conquer nature without any negative outcomes. McCandless went out into the woods with little more than a desire to push his limits. He failed to realize that such dangerous actions would produce negative results, but only after it was too late. McCandless is an accurate portrayal of the typical American, who pushes the advancement of technology on the cutting edge with a disregard for possible downstream effects. Krakauer says that the interpretations of McCandless death were jaded due to rash judgments and false information. He later realizes that his death due to other complex issues. However, his death in itself is not the most important issue. The most important issue is the fact that he still went out into the depths of the unknown, as society continually does with technology, not having a reasonable prediction of the outcome. McCandless indifferent attitude cost him his life, but in the end, it will be the life of the entire world that is at stake.
The problem of downstream effects can be seen throughout other cultures as well; take for example the Indian people of Varanasi. In order to keep pace with modernization and technology they have polluted their sacred Ganges River to toxic levels. Due to rapid development, the people of India have found themselves in a situation where they must fight for survival. Their population is growing too quickly for old technology to support. They have been forced to prioritize technology over nature at a cost of survival. Stille says,
Some five hundred million people-one out of every twelve people in the world- now live in the basin of the Ganges and its tributaries. A hundred and fourteen cities dump their sewage directly into the river. (Stille 568)
The Indian culture is very different from that of Chris McCandless , however they have many disturbing similarities. The Indian people care deeply about their land, yet their need for survival and advancement has caused the Ganges to turn from a vital source of life into a toxic repellant of life. Like McCandless, the people of India did not realize the downstream effects of their actions. Keeping pace with modernization and technological advances has cost them a vital part of their environment. This situation exemplifies how technology can have unseen and adverse outcomes. Society has accomplished many great things, which at the time appeared to be harmless, but in retrospect have put them in a situation where their society is facing eminent disaster.
India, faced with these dilemmas, must now deal with the consequences. In an attempt to clean the river, the government constructed a wastewater treatment plant. They believed that they could destroy the river for the advancement of technology and society, and then use the same technology to clean up the mess that it created. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not see the problem having such a simple solution. The people of India did not account for the downstream effects that the plant would have and the outcome of putting such a plant in this very unique environment. Mass quantities of sunlight, yearly monsoons, and the overall hot climate of Varanasi coupled with frequent power outages render the plant useless. The complexities of nature does not allow for one simple resolution. Ignorance, the workings of the river and the surrounding environment, has led to the downfall of their society.
After the failure of the treatment plant, they turned to spiritual leader Veer Bhadra Mishra and American scientist William Oswald for assistance. Oswald has worked with Mishra to implement a natural pond system designed to cleanse the Ganges. This is certainly a step in the right direction, however I believe that this too will fail, because no one knows if the pond system will function in this environment.
Oswald had seen many ambitious pond projects in the Third World evaporate for a host of technical, political, and financial reasons. But, after fifteen years of work, the manhant was anxious that the project s momentum not be slowed by nettlesome details. (Stille 572).
These nettlesome details are exactly the oversights that cause failure. The lack of decisive knowledge and of predictable outcomes is distressing for the fate of their society. Such ill planning will not undo what years of pollution have done to the river.
Like the culture of India, the American farming industry has attempted to control nature for the good of society. A large chemical company, Monsanto, has developed a genetically engineered New Leaf Potato that contains genetic code allowing it to produce a pesticide called Bt that kills Colorado Potato Beetles. The company believes that these alterations are perfectly safe. They claim,
Extensive research and review of that research by appropriate government agencies demonstrate that New Leaf insect-protected potatoes are safe to eat. These potatoes, which have been grown for the last five years on a small percentage of potato acres in the United States and Canada, have numerous benefits, including the fact that they require less insecticide for insect control.
Like McCandless and the people of India, they have failed to account for any downstream effects that this kind of action may incur. They assume that since the pesticide itself is safe and the potato is safe, then it is harmless to humans. The genetic engineering process has vast side effects that are unknown. When dealing with nature, any degree of uncertainty is dangerous. What may be worse is the effect such a plant could have on the rest of the environment. There is a severe risk that the inborn pesticide can have drastic biological consequences. For example, beetles resistant to the pesticide would evolve, having serious consequences on nature, hurting the already dying American farming industry. Evolution is not something that should be sped up, it is a bi-product of nature that must be allowed to take its course.
In Europe, this kind of genetically engineered food is known as a Frankenplant . Capitalist conglomerates behind the farming industry are the driving force in the production of the Frankenplants . Companies like Monsanto are pushing for high tech crops in order to make money. I agree that the current abundance of pesticide use cannot continue any longer. Monsanto argues that these advances are good for farming and the country as a whole, but this temporary solution does not justify the future effects on nature. The solution to the problem is to allow nature to take its course. Organic farming is currently growing in popularity, and for a good reason. Organic farmers use natural methods to control insects and disease instead of relying on technology. Some argue that this is an inefficient method that does not work on a large-scale. I believe this is completely untrue. If the money that was put into genetically engineered New Leafs was invested in organic farming methods and improving large-scale operations the solution to the pesticide problem would be found. The companies responsible for making these harmful products refuse to invest the time and effort into making organic farming a viable alternative. This irresponsible capitalist attitude may be advantageous to business, but not to nature and society.
Clearly, in the world today, priority is not given to the effects of our actions, but instead to corporate moneymaking. As shown through Chris McCandless, the Indian culture of Varanasi, and the American farming industry, society is neglecting to account for the downstream effects that technology creates. People need to acknowledge not only the advantages, but also the disadvantages a new technology will have on society and the environment. We need to realize the outcome of the things we do today, and mold our actions accordingly for the future.