Thursday, 7 July 2016

Does technology only have to serve the rich?

The divisions in this country have been bought into sharp focus since the recent referendum. Some people in the winning side are behaving as if they have been given a mandate to take us back to the days of the black shirts.

There is less goodwill towards people who have settled here despite their contribution to the economy. Has compassion for the third world poor diminished too?

And yet the advances in science and technology means that much more can be done to help.

Apparently, the Earth is hit by 430 quintillion Joules of energy from the Sun every single hour: That’s enough to meet the World’s energy needs for a year. Furthermore solar energy has never been cheaper at thirty cents per watt. Installations of solar panels are growing exponentially and battery technology has improved dramatically too.

That is why countries like China and India are investing so heavily as are companies like Tesla, Apple and Google. Low-level technology such as spray-on can transform windows and glass in buildings into solar panels. In Britain, schemes already exist to convert pedestrian footfalls into energy to light up buildings.

Sustainable energy that doesn’t need huge infrastructures and national grids can transform poor people’s lives. Better standards of living in their own Countries can mean fewer migrants, less carbon emissions and global warming.

Schumacher was right when he wrote about how low level technology could help the disadvantaged in his book: ‘Small Is Beautiful’ forty years ago.

Ultimately, Helping the poor in the third world, helps us too.