Ecology vs. profit in Time Salvager, Mr. Robot, Clean Power Plan

Connections is a new category on my blog where I document ideas that occur to me as I read books, watch movies  and TV shows and sometimes even connect them to current events. Here is the first one.

I am halfway through reading the dystopian time-travel sci-fi book Time Salvager by Wesley Chu. I don’t know how it will end, but where I am at in it now it seems that a mega-corporation purposefully destroyed Earth’s ecosystem in chase of profits and dominance. (Spoiler: They did it by travelling 400 years back to the 21st century and destroyed the station where scientists were successfully working on finding the cure for a mutating virus that eventually took over all the living waters of Earth.) This is pretty much I feel is happening often in today’s economy/ecology. Some corporations in the line of maximizing their profit are disregarding the long-term effects of their actions. I consider this criminal: using up natural resources in a non-sustainable ways is like stealing from the future. In the book the effect of stealing from the past (which is what well-regulated time-travellers do) creates an ever-bleakening present and future. We do the same by stealing from future.

vil CorpI also watched the first few episodes of an excellent TV series titled Mr. Robot. So far it has little to do with ecology. The dayjob of the main character, a brilliant computer guy with limited social skills, is providing computer security for  corporation, but by night he is a (somewhat reluctant) hacker working against that very corporation and the “system” in general. The corporation’s name is “E corp” but is referred to in the show as “Evil Corp”. Their logo is similar to the scandalous and now defunct Enron’s. I rarely see such blatant reference in popular culture of a corporation being evil, and even invoking a specific one. It corresponds to the idea mentioned above of maximizing profits over everything else.

The final element of this “connection” is that President Obama yesterday announced the “Clean Power Plan” in order “to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.” My first reaction was how hard the corporations (and the politicians supported by them) will fight this. I understand the mechanism of how this works: they are responsible to their shareholders, who hold their shares in the hope of making money. Hence they have to do what they have to. But I don’t have to like the process. Here is what Forbes has to say about that

Critics claim that the Plan is inherently unfair, punishes taxpayers and will destroy our economy, similar to what was claimed for the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a host of other environmental changes that have kept our country reasonable cleaner and safer than most other nations in the world. Fair to say none of that ever happened.

I will be watching how the coal industry, the biggest that would be affected negatively by this plan, will fight the enactment of this act. I have sympathies for the miners, families and individuals who would lose their livelihood due to mine closures. However I also believe that as an industry its days should be over and as a society we should turn to cleaner  sources of energy. That’s in the interest of all of us, not just the miners’.

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