Technosink: Why the engineers will keep on building accident prone power plants.
A Technosink is the hard wake up call, that happens when scientists or engineers thought they had it all covered. Right when we believed engineers had ruled out all nasty possibilities, within a technical framework, and then harsh reality destroys the illusion of control. Murphy’s Law breaking down engineering arrogance. Take nuclear power plants. Building a very safe reactor house is worth nothing if the cooling systems breaks down, you lose control over the electricity in running the system, computers get virused or all people either die or flee the building. But engineers have a job to do. Build a safe plant. Check the drawings of nuclear power plants on the Google. In all of them the water system is quite vulnerable. Now think Earthquake, terrorists, violent revolt, war, mudslide, unlucky plane crash, tsunami, gas cloud, hurrincane or several of them at the same time, etc. You’ve got the whole plant protected and then you can’t flow new cooling water to the plant. So getting the job done, within the given framework, is not always the point. We only allow for accidents that we can imagine, and then hope the unimagined won’t happen. That’s inviting a technosink.
Aperock: Why the Top Dogs keep on endorsing damaging wares.
We may look like humans, but much of our actions are based upon our ape brain. We still act like monkeys when it comes to power, overview, hierarchy. Monkeys want to be on top. They want to keep and strengthen their position. In a forest craving to be the top monkey harms only a few other monkeys. It won’t harm the forest. But we are apes that can harm the forest. Washington is teeming with politicians and lobbyists who don’t give shit about their issue, only that that issue provides them with status, money and (self) importance. They automatically fight for the wellbeing of their organisation, issue, etc. Collateral damage in bankruptcies, loss of limbs to land mines, number of people without health care or proper education is taken for granted. If you happen to be a top monkey in the Nuclear tribe, you want it to rule the energy production and fight alternative power innovation. If your power is connected to the importance of nuclear power and the developing of new projects you not only endorse it. You reason objections away and perhaps even actively keep the lid on (almost) failures and accidents. It’s only the nuclear scientists without nuclear interests who warn against it. We apes don’t look at the bigger picture. We just do the best for us and our rock. We are blind to those cases where taking care of number one (yourself) is actually damaging ourselves, our society and our offspring in the long run.
Tribal Loyalty: Why employees keep on working for the wrong things.
For many, many centuries we lived in (family)tribes. Often survival of the tribe, especially in lawless or dangerous surroundings, depended on loyalty. We love loyalty. Getting the job done is what counts, because than the whole family will have some deer to eat tonight. But times and society have changed. If your job is to endorse nuclear power, weapons, tobacco or selling choking mortgages you still act like your company is your family tribe. You do your best for the company. And failing gets you fired. And while we were hunter gatherers this was a good idea. But even your selfish genes should oppose ancient tribal loyalty in damaging cases. Company loyalty is not a good idea when you get paid to illegally dump toxic waste into the ocean or endorse nuclear power, when you know what (almost) accidents are hidden under the table. The ecological fragility of society and environment is endangered by selfish organisations (also the Banking Crisis, and Enron scandal were part of this) willingly keeping the lid on dirty deeds of all kinds of nature. Not because they are evil, but because of stupid inbred tribal loyalty.
To betray the tribe was the worst possible crime. We still condemn whistleblowers instinctively. They often never find another job, because they are unreliable, untrustworthy and unfaithful troublemakers. But time has changed. Whistleblowers may betray a their smaller tribe, but often act in interest of the bigger whole. They see the bigger picture. They see that keeping the lid on trouble that may help their company, but may cost the state millions, pollute regions, create sickness for many in the future is wrong. And by exposing the lies of the management, they may help everyone including their managers and their children from bigger and more important threats. Wikileaks started with exposing governments. We need the same for all companies that damage the planet and do not think twice if other options are possible. Forced transparency will help companies to become honest and develop well being for society and earth. Now if that isn’t added value and worth something than I am an idiot.
Orgmind: Why dirty organisations don’t change their ways
Organisations have minds of their own. I’ve seen organisations where everyone wanted to go left, and still the organisation went right. Organisations have goals and reasons for existence that everyone contributes to. If your organisation is the best car builder, it will keep on building cars and endorsing cars as the transport solution. Mostly organisations identify with what they are currently doing. If you build cars driving on petrol, you hire lobbyist to protect your company, even when, petrol is running out and prices sky rocket. There is a way out though: If it sees itself as the best transporter, there may be a time when cars become obsolete, and this company will be the herald of the new transport solution. Many have heard the story, but we forget the lesson: Nokia once made rubber boots. The organisation is still there, but something entirely different. During the second world war, many American factories turned within a few months, from producing whatever, into weapon manufacturers. Still these needs crisis thinking and broad minds. There is a crisis, but sadly many narrow minds. So nuclear energy companies and project developers who have a lot of money invested will keep in doing their thing. And only force of law, or a mind and approach shift like within Nokia will stop them.
Sustainability: Why we won’t change our ways.
We have a modern active society that consumes a lot of energy. And we have a solution to prevent damaging too much of nature: sustainability. So we can get back to sleep. Nuclear power is among the answers that will provide the much needed energy. If fact we need more and more of it: for our computers, for our mobile phones, for our gadgets and soon for our cars too. And more and more people arrive at this level of luxury, they all want what we have too. That takes a lot of energy. Luckily we have sustainability. That is all the energy we put into continue our current ways. We don’t want to change. We don’t want not to use all that energy. We don’t want to lose our TV, I-Pad or Plane holiday to Thailand. So there is a huge pressure to make it possible for all of us to have energy and lots of it. And in a democracy the politicians are pushed to provide the wishes of the masses and big corporations who also don’t want to change. Growth, especially economical, is the big wish. We need to push forward or our society, country will lack behind and lose power, influence and meaning. This we all have ingrained in our system, politics and society. So we’ll keep on moving forward until disaster strikes, be it new nuclear disaster or the dying of the seas. In the mean time we hope that sustainability will help us to find the magical new invention that will help us to stay on top within the same frame of mind, same culture & same use of energy. Since this is an impossible wish, nuclear power is so far the only source of energy that will keep providing our energy addiction. At the least this is what the nuclear apes, tribes, engineers orgminds and spin doctors keep on telling us. Sadly they do have a point, until new disaster strikes.