I was quite pleased to read a quote from Douglas Rushkoff ’83 about the folly of throwing more technological solutions at problems caused by technology (Princetonians, November issue). My 1970 senior thesis regarding a model for community organizing around the ecological/global warming crisis concludes that too many people are waiting for an unrealistic technological “magic button” that they will gladly push to save us while ignoring the effects of individual lifestyle choices. I wrote, “Man can control the extensions of himself he has built in machines … but only at the cost of more dehumanizing mechanical extensions.” “The only real solution must include a drastic change in life-style for every overproducing and overconsuming person. That is a lot of change. I think it could happen, but there is certainly no available rational evidence that it will.”
I have finally reached a soul-satisfying point of achieving my climate-change adaptation goal of building a tiny off-grid homestead in rural Montana where, as Walter Kirn ’83 points out (also in the November issue), there tends to be a negative cachet associated with graduating from Princeton. My hard work using primitive tools has eclipsed any unfortunate resentment of elite education or assumed condescension.
Sadly, I still don’t see much evidence that we will rise to the moral test of our time by sacrificing a bit of our wealth and material indulgence in the interest of mitigating climate change. But the incessant talk, talk, talk continues adding hot air.