Imagine the tentacles of technology spanning the earth like the arms of an octopus around a watermelon. The grip of a feeding octopus on the fragile sides of our earth, this moist watermelon, has been more apropos as a metaphor for technology than the more recent internet derived concept; an infinite web of conduits pouring consciousness amidst and between some six billion souls.
Up till the dawn of the internet, it was tough to argue that technology, in general, helped the environment. Up till the dawn of the internet, all that technology meant to most environmentalists was steel saws and steel tractors, dams and salinization, concrete, clear-cut logging, air pollution, poisons in the water; technology had benefits, of course, but technology could easily facilitate, unwittingly, the destruction of all life on earth.
With the dawn of the internet, the tentacles acquired a brain. Perhaps at last the octopus would nurture faster than eat. Imagine sensors and servers spanning the earth dedicated to a specific purpose, measuring earth information to become part of a new Gaia, the technology enhanced Gaia of this earth. Like an embryonic global nervous system, the internet grants every place on earth the potential to communicate and aggregate environmental data. More than six billion souls are so linked and all of them can see this data.
With such measureless new abilities for humanity to collectively meld its consciousness with the state of the earth, everywhere, the flow of the waters, the qualities of the atmospheres, the output of the forests and the fisheries, new ways to save the desecrated wastes can be contemplated. We have new ways to imagine and build a world with nature and technology in harmony. Our exploding knowledge of digital ecosystems can be put to use to help our biological ecosystems.
Not only can the tentacles of technology create a global ecological nervous system of sensors sharing data on the web, technology can also be used to make restoration efforts possible on a greater scale and lower cost that anyone could possibly have imagined even twenty years ago.
Sensors and computers can be used to manage customized irrigation systems of continental proportions. Their network would become the nerves of the new forest, acquiring and distributing water with coordinated precision. Transfering vast quantities of water between continental watersheds not for industry, but for new forests. Unlike industry, forests begat rain, meaning giant aquaducts used to nurture new forests will cause overall increases in available water. Why not let technology Gaia and technology networks nurture new forests along Lake Chad, or the delta of the Syr Darya, or in Mato Grosso, and along the Orange, and Borneo, and elsewhere.
The places where the early waves of technology slaughtered the forests will never regenerate without help from the newest waves of technology; the technology Gaia, and the expression and will of this technology enhanced Gaia, such as continental irrigation systems. On the edges of the slaughter, on the borders of untouched forests, nature can regenerate by itself. But on the shores of the tragically diminished Aral Sea, and countless elsewheres, only technological assistance will restore life to the earth. Meanwhile, the internet has bestowed the ability to bring precision and sensitivity to continent-wide irrigation systems that had before been inconceivable.
With nature and technology in harmony, we can refill the Aral Sea. Why not dig a tunnel from Tobolsk south through mountainous Siberia to empty into the Aral Sea? The Ob-Irtush could spare a few cubic kilometers of water each year. Give drip systems to the Cotton Farmers along the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, and get more water back to the Aral Sea from the original sources. Even the mighty Volga can be tapped with a short tunnel east to the Aral Basin, and why not, if the Caspian is rising?
Turn the water flow on and off or reverse the flow, depending on the seasons in the regions. Share the water. A cubic kilometer of water here, a cubic kilometer of water there. Highly technological. Where the Kalihari marches south, even to the delta of the Orange, let new nerves of technology help humans move water. Where the Sahel becomes the burning Sahara, let the new nerves move water by the cubic kilometer. Run a tunnel north from the bountiful Ubangi, and water the Sahel. One hundred years ago, some mad Englishman thought it up. Now we have computers to manage the flow, and embattled lakes in the Sahel that cry for water. More trees, more rain, more water, more life. Good global cooling.
The rapid development of a digital ecosystem across the planet will allow the best thoughts of all humans everywhere to be captured and concentrated, allowing everyone to have the benefits of data, design, technology, and deployed systems, that can help ravaged natural ecosystems regenerate. Along arteries of well traveled and well settled humans, technology can still and even more easily be harnessed to assist natural ecosystems, creating new rivers and forests in the middle of the metropolis. More shade. More soil. More moisture. More life.
Imagine nature and technology in harmony.