Solar Power Nerdiness and the Terrifying Problem of Albedo

I swear, it is almost impossible to stop yourself. I promised I would be more disciplined, but I’m not. When someone who cares about climate change gets solar panels on their roof, the temptation to keep looking at how much energy you are generating is virtually irresistible. After a long and dark “La Nina” winter …

Could Technology Make America Wild Again?

In a recent essay published in Aeon, Henry Mance asks “can technology mend our broken relationship with the natural world?”  At first, it seems, apparently not. Making points that echo those formulated by philosopher of technology Albert Borgmann in an earlier post on this blog, Mance show how technology tends to undercut any native closeness …

The Part that’s Not Funny about Cloning Macaques

On January 25th 2018, CNN.com announced a striking scientific breakthrough in biotechnology with the painful headline “Monkey See, Monkey 2.” A technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) had been used successfully by Chinese researchers to create two genetically identical long-tailed macaque monkeys. This was the first time that SCNT, a technique that arrived …

Gene Drives and the Hijacking of Origins

Over the last thirty years, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have struggled to gain the confidence of consumers.  In the European Union, many member states have maintained virtual moratoria on their use in agriculture. Even in the less precautionary U.S., where only the weakest of labeling laws have ever made it through Congress, surveys show that …

Wrapping Glaciers, Making Clouds, and Reflecting Sunlight

An image in the online Encyclopaedia Britannica illustrating the various strategies for climate engineering has always bothered me. Alongside the highly technical and speculative proposal of placing orbiting mirrors in space to intercept the sun’s rays sits the highly unsophisticated and low-tech proposal of wrapping melting glaciers with huge sheets of white fabric. The juxtaposition …

Albert Borgmann Reflecting on Facebook and the iPhone

On occasions this blog will have guest posts by authors who have expertise in areas related to our central themes.  We are lucky to hear today from Albert Borgmann, a world renowned philosopher of technology and author of Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. Here Borgmann reflects on Facebook and the iPhone and the hidden …