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Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment Original Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0865717046
ISBN-10: 9780865717046
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Editorial Reviews


Technology has become our near-universal object of faith…but it is people who must provide the answers.  This book should be read and discussed in every home, school, and legislature. -- Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, author, The End of Growth.

Technology alone won't be our salvation. This book explains why. -- Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, author, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Possibly the best myth-busting book the environmental movement has ever seen. -- William Rees, Professor, University of British Columbia, author, Our Ecological Footprint.

Science and technology have advanced impressively and have promised much over the past century, but as this book shows, it is suicidal to put our hopes in such promises. -- David Suzuki, Professor emeritus, University of British Columbia, host, The Nature of Things, author of 43 books.

Techno-fix shows how unsustainable and destructive technologies, shaped and driven by the profit motive, have emerged as a major cause of harm to people and the earth. We need to go beyond a blind techno-religion and this book shows us how. -- Vandana Shiva, New Delhi based environmental and anti-globalization activist, philosopher, author of 20 books.

This book is outstanding, the most thorough, clear, systematic refutation that I've seen of the absurd idea that new technology will be our savior from advancing ecological breakdown - A must-read for anyone seeking realistic pathways forward. -- Jerry Mander, Founder, International Forum on Globalization.

Salvation by technological advance and unlimited growth is the blind dogma of our age. The Huesemanns provide a devastatingly cogent and well-referenced critique of this modern Gnosticism, as well some good alternative ideas. Highly recommended! --Herman Daly, Former World Bank Senior Economist, author, Steady-State Economics, and Ecological Economics.

Techno-Fix deals with a wide range of issues at the core of the sustainability crisis, showing that these problems are not going to be solved by technical advances which leave the fundamental structures and values of rampant consumer society in place...Techno-Fix goes beyond technical issues to consider the social, economic and philosophical dimensions of our predicament. TED TRAINER University of New South Wales

About the Author

Michael Huesemann, PhD is a research scientist with a special interest in sustainability and critical science. He has specialized in environmental biotechnology for more than 25 years.

Joyce Huesemann, PhD is an activist and academic who has taught at several universities and participates in environmental, wildlife protection and companion-animal organizations.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; Original edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780865717046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865717046
  • ASIN: 0865717044
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Although the book discusses in great depth with the effects of technology on the environment and society, as a medical student I was particularly interested in reading the sections dealing with technology and medicine. Among the unintended consequences of high-technology medicine, the book mentions the more than 200,000 iatrogenic deaths per year in the US. The book spells out in great length antibiotic resistance and the resulting hospital infections as an example of our failure to completely control "nature" because we ignore the delicate ecological balance between pathogens and hosts. If antibiotic resistance continues to increase and no new antibiotics come on the market, many routine surgeries will become much more dangerous because of risk of infection.

As someone interested in public health and prevention, I liked how the book shows data demonstrsting that most of the increases in life expectancy were the result of better nutrition and sanitation (i.e. prevention), and not advanced medical interventions. It is sobering to read that large declines in mortality from infectious diseases occurred before the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s - so antibiotics can't be credited for this. The discussion of the placebo effect fascinated me as well, since up to one third of all cures could be due to the placebo effect rather than high-tech treatments and surgeries. Perhaps we should give emphasis to the placebo effect? Perhaps our unrealistic optimism about high-tech medicine may be misplaced?

The argument in this book is relevant to our changing times in regards to health care policy, since high-tech medical intervention is one contributor to inflation of healthcare costs.
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Format: Paperback
Upon first hearing about this book, I was intrigued, hoping it might offer an unusual and critical look at science and technology from people who *aren't* technophobes. What it actually provided was not exactly that.

The Huesemanns' major point is that technological progress alone will not solve our problems (which, in many cases, are the products of other technologies). Seems reasonable enough. However, while they do succeed in making this point, they end up making some strange, and sometimes even troubling, conclusions.

First off, some of the science in the books is rather questionable. Many of the assumptions in the first section of the book used to support the argument that is it perilous for humans to try to "improve" on nature are based on the idea that ecosystems (and nature in general) exist in a "balance"- presumably a static equilibrium- and that this evolved, slowly and gradually (as did human culture). Both of these underlying assumptions are commonly found in the literature of environmentalism and sustainability, and are largely based on the work on mature ecological communities of one of the founders of modern ecology, Frederic Clements. Unfortunately, we now know that neither of these underlying assumptions are correct- ecosystems usually *aren't* in balance (even the equilibrium of mature communities is a dynamic one, not static- and there's some controversy over whether or not ecosystems actually ever *reach* true maturity), and evolution (both cultural and biological) tends to happen in the form of punctuated equilibria- extremely rapid periods of change between long periods of relatively little change (and cultures in particular are capable of even more rapid change- the static societies mentioned in the book are largely the exception, not the rule).
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2 Comments 34 of 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Even to save the planet from climate change or to save the economy from the end of cheap oil, you can't stop the march of technological progress, we're often told. Whether it's the personal car, industrial farming or nuclear power, once the genie's out of the bottle, you just can't squeeze him back in.

And anyway, we're also told, even the most dangerous technologies are morally neutral. They can always be used for either good or evil. It just depends on who's using them and for what. Thus, the answer to Hiroshima was "Atoms for Peace" and building out civilian nuclear power that would be too cheap to meter.

But today, the real answer to Hiroshima appears to be Fukushima. And the price for nuclear power appears to be somewhat higher, both in money and in safety, than scientists and the industry had originally led the public to believe.

Ditto for other technologies that were supposed to usher in a new age of progress beyond hunger and toil, ranging from cell phones to biotechnology to microwave ovens. If you look at all their unintended consequences, from cancer to climate change, it's clear that all too often technologies cost society much more than their sticker price.

As people ask critical questions about more and more technologies at the very same time that Occupy Wall Street has drawn attention to the dangers of extreme economic inequality, the moment is perfect for a book like Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment.

An inside job

As the public loses ever more trust in authority figures from politicians to priests to pension fund managers, many citizens look increasingly to scientists as the last experts they can trust.
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