When I was a child, a truck (no bigger than today a SUV) came at regular intervals and delivered coal on a pile in our yard. The entire family would then collect the pieces of coal in buckets and carry them to the basement. We stacked the coal briquettes neatly alongside.
And in the evening, my mother told me the story of the good-natured forest giant. He could no longer stand aside and witness as people kept cutting down his trees for firewood. So he showed them coal and where to find it. The boy enjoyed the story and was happy that no more trees needed to be cut for firewood.
The coal in our basement lasted all winter. But we lived close by the railway station and our laundry was often dark from the soot. When I grew older, I started wondering about coal and the environment. However, that was when locomotives started being powered by electricity and cars with gasoline. And the energy supply council of Augsburg replaced the poisonous charcoal gas with natural gas. What an improvement! Everything seemed to be well.
To add to the feeling of adequacy, we saw a film on nuclear energy at school. It showed that unlimited quantities of energy are available. All you had to do was tame the bottle spirit. We all looked forward to a radiant future. I was quite fascinated by all of it. Today, I realize that I have been a victim of deception. And I am worried about a thing or two radiating in the future against our intention.
After the age of nuclear technology came the age of “data processing”. Today, we call it the information technology. I started turning towards IT in 1969. That was 40 years ago. After studying mathematics I became a “computer scientist”.
Twenty years ago, I was told that gene technology will solve all our problems. Approximately ten years ago, nano technology became the key to a better future. Now, people start realizing that here, too, not all is gold that glittered. That is why I would kindly ask all rational people to critically think about the consequences of new technologies with responsibility before they are applied.
(Translated by EG)
Once in a while I wonder what students at school will read in their (electronic) books in less than a hundred years. I am afraid the judgement will be a damning report about how the people in those days (we) destroyed the planet by soil damaging or soil sealing, freeing radioactivity, exploiting raw materials, using up all the water, disregarding the side-effects of naïve gene-technology and, last not lest, contaminating our environment by all kinds of nano particles.