One of the things that shows up in my email box every morning is The Chronicle of Higher Ed’s job search thing that I filled out a million years ago, and I’ve actually tried to unsubscribe a time or two, because I’m really not interested in a job in higher ed, at all, unless it is some system vastly different from the one that exists in this country, but I don’t remember my password and it’s a pain in the butt so it continues to arrive every day, and every so often if there’s an interesting looking job, I’ll look at it.
There was one a while back for a plant biotechnology person down at the U of A and since I know some permaculture folks in Tucson, I thought, oh, WTF, maybe biotechnology has grown up, I’ll check it out, but no, it was about genetic engineering of all things, of course, but what killed me about it was that the opening line (and these things take a f**king month to compose, the language is super important in that every single job has nine zillion applicants, and so some poor souls have to read all those f**k CVs, many of which are total trash) said that the vision was to plan ahead for our goal of nine billion people on earth.
And no, that wasn’t exactly what it said, they didn’t use the world goal, but since the genetic engineering program they’re looking at is aimed at that, and since science does all this really great stuff, we’ll assume that’s the goal.
That very soon we’re going to wake up to just how tragic the idea of converting the worlds ecosystems into farmland is, so that we can feed the nine billion who are really going to be at each other’s throats by that time, or living in squalor and starvation, or maybe half the world’s population will be nuked before we get there, or maybe Captain Trips will come along and take most of us out, oops there’s no vaccine for Captain Trips, we’ve never seen him before, darn.
So planning for nine billion using the marvels of agricultural technology, ignoring all of the most basic principles of systems ecology, those marvels that have damned near killed the earth in the last few instants of its evolutionary history, that doesn’t seem like a very good approach to planning for the future.
But this is where higher education is. Arizona State is still talking about Ecosystem Services, I remember so clearly when Tad Day laughed at that term, and now I get it. Twenty million dollars (I’m sure, by this time) and fourteen pretty dire years or so later, they still haven’t figured it out. Ecosystems aren’t here to serve us.
We won’t even go into medical biotechnology. Walk into the jungle and look at anybody from an indigenous culture not too harshly impacted by the white man, the capitalist man, and you’ll see the picture of health. For free. Imagine that. But science ignores that, because it’s science, and it can make flies’ eyes glow red.