Alternative technology

Even though there is a credit crunch, one should still give credit where credit is due: for the USA to accept that climate change is real and man-made is jolly decent of them[1]. But James Connaughton, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality then fluffed it when he said: “You only have two choices; you either have advanced technologies and get them into the marketplace, or you shut down your economies and put people out of work.”

A stark choice. Either we career ahead into an ever more tangled web of genetical engineering, electromagnetic smog, radioactivity, and speciality chemicals, or we have mass unemployment, riots, and starvation.

The advanced techno world implied by Mr Connaughton is a fine playground for bureaucrats, scientists, technocrats, megalomaniacs, and Formula One engineers. The planet is their laboratory, and all life and its secrets are at the mercy of their tweezers. All for the glory of the weekly trip to Tesco and the annual vomit into a swimming pool in Spain.

Not this grotesque world for Nat Eb, former top journalist at the Wood Warbler, Hungary’s leading daily newspaper in the 2030s, now Minister for Economic Decline and Social Technology, and a close ally of the professorial prime minister Onan Hash.

“We realised long ago that the technological challenge was not for more efficient cars or lower energy toasters. Hungarians invented the atomic bomb, the biro, the computer, the Rubik’s cube, game theory, excel, vitamin C, the lightbulb, the match, the helicopter, the contact lens, the carburettor, the slide projector, the dynamo, email, and beautiful women. So we knew everything there was to know about technology.

“It was clear to us that the new technological challenges were of a quite different nature. The real technological challenge was the technology of economic management, of regulation, and of society. Our challenge was the management of a gracefully declining economy, design of a society which survives while taking it easy and not churning out CO2, perhaps above all the technology of education and behaviour.

“When we established our Social Technology Centre in 2010, we realised that despite millennia of lawmaking and social development across western society, we still simply had no clue about how to get people to respect each other and tread lightly on the planet which kept them alive. Our political systems were as effective as 12th century medical technology.

“It was into this field that we poured our billions of research and development Euros, not into making cleverer and faster robotic vacuum cleaners. The rest is history: the 2015 Ecological Constitutional Reform Act, followed by the Do-As-Be-Done-By Act of 2021, rewrote our law books.[2]

“That would not have been possible, however, without One Tonne One Vote, the programme which limited the exercise of democratic rights to those who could reduce their CO2 emissions to under one tonne per year. And of course the Little Woolly Lamb Scheme which paid urban children to spend two months every year in the countryside, in the company of cuddly animals, learning rural crafts.”

Then Mr Eb turned and went for his afternoon snooze, carefully stepping over a hedgehog which had wandered off the main hedgeway through Budapest.

[2] See The Bustard, April 30th and May 1st 2007

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