Farmers in third world countries leaving the land to ‘farm’ for gold in online games to sell to other avatars (digital identities of a type). The virtual ‘sweatshop labour’. I hope the college activists turn there attention to this issue too.
Net heads may think this is cool and those enamored with the over taking of the real world with the digital. I think it is really freaking and we should figure out how to pay people who farm the land get paid well. We can not as Bruce Sterling so aptly put in his Planetwork 2000 address – dive into our computer screens and survive. He was talking about escaping from the greenhouse effect – seems like having food to eat is equally applicable.
The lesson here is not that atomic scientists are gutless eggheads. Einstein and Sakharov weren’t gutless: these people are colleagues of Einstein and Sakharov. The true lesson of Los Alamos is that there’s no ivory tower to hide in. You can have the biggest supercomputers on earth and a broadband video feed. If a Greenhouse monsoon rolls in, you’re gonna have live video feed of your supercomputers washing downriver.
What are you gonna do when the sky turns black over your town? Are you gonna jump inside your laptop screen? Where you gonna hide, console cowboy? If it gets hotter, you can click up the AC like we do in Texas, but the Greenhouse Effect is an extremely intimate disaster. You’re breathing it right now. The planet’s entire atmosphere from pole to pole has been soiled with effluent from smokestacks. Too much carbon dioxide. It’s in every single breath you take, it fills this very room. You don’t get to pick and choose. There’s no pull-down menu for another atmosphere. The sky is full of soot. Everywhere. There’s soot in Yosemite. There’s soot at the source of the Nile. There’s soot in Walden Pond and soot in the Serengeti. There is no refuge. It’s not imaginary, it’s here.
Yet it’s nothing compared to what is coming. Whatever sins of omission and comission we may have committed environmentally, they are the small ones, they are the beginner steps. Look at the curves, do some of the math. We’re in deep already, but these are just harbingers. The real trouble lies ahead.