Friday, May 02, 2008

No Miracle at All

Tibor R. Machan

For 20 years I drove a little Volvo P 1800 and I enjoyed the car immensely. It served me and my family very well. At times I would pat it and silently thank the engineers who designed it and the entire team of producers who made it. I was emotional about it, actually. What a nice thing to have and how wonderful to benefit from the works of these people, as well as from the socio-economic system that enabled me to purchase the car.

This morning I was checking out the news on my TV and watched some devastations wrought by this thing many people admiringly refer to as “nature”--actually, the wilds--in various parts of the country, particularly in Texas, where tornadoes reeked havoc and destruction. There was only one known fatality from several of these storms and the announcer mentioned how this was such a miracle. As I heard this piece of information announced, I was looking at aerial views of the regions where the tornadoes struck and it occurred to me that the fact that few injuries occurred was not at all a miracle, not by a long shot.

What is most responsible for the lack of widespread injury and death in these regions? Well, that widely detested element of human society, namely, technological and economic development. You know, those developers who always get derided for producing rows of homes and other structures throughout the country. And all those who manufacture the materials from which these are built. And science and technology in general, all of that is what produces “the miracle” the TV announcer was talking about.

Whenever one learns about earthquakes and other destructive acts of nature in far away regions of the globe, and learns of all the human casualties these produce, it is important to consider how little developed these regions are? How much has science and technology influenced the living conditions in these human habitats? The plain fact is that in most of the regions where acts of nature bring devastation and huge human casualties, development is meager and people live much “closer to nature,” to the wilds, than they do in most regions of America. Even rescue efforts are far more effective in societies with advanced technologies than where people are living “close to nature.”

Whenever I encounter environmentalists who decry the extensive development throughout advanced civilizations, especially America, I focus in on what they are actually favoring as an alternative. Going back to nature. Going back to eras when medicine was primitive, when food supplies barely sustained the small populations, when engineering and building were all at their beginning and the political economic conditions made progress virtually impossible. Even the fact that these environmentalists--for instance Alan Weisman in his disgusting book, The World Without Us (2007)--keep taking full advantage of modern science and technology--by, for example, using the publishing industry’s tools to propagate their vicious message--clearly suggests that there is something very wrong with what they advocate. Just consider all the technology it took to get Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” on thousands of movie and TV screens across the world! Back to nature my foot!

So you can imagine why I found the spectacle of the television anchor and reporter babbling, about the miracle of the minimal human casualty from the tornadoes, so offensive. The offended are, of course, all those folks who have made the buildings, roads, bridges, etc., sturdy enough to keep the devastation to the minimum. But, as the saying goes, “No good deed ever goes unpunished.” The punishment here is, of course, the utter failure to give credit where credit is due!

I am planning to buck this shameful trend, though. I am planning to drive my SUV today and say a not so silent thanks to the company that produced it so that I can roam about safely doing my errands. And if one of these technology, engineering. or marketing folks happens to be reading my missives, I want it known that I am very, very grateful indeed.

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