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Man has become a Cancer on the Planet, The Challenge

Arthur Hanson

Active member
Being an environmentalist for years I have had the theory that man has become a cancer on the planet in that like the definition of cancer mankind has become uncontrolled growth and although our technologies have allowed our population to increase dramatically over the carrying capacity of the planet by creating a massive imbalance in so many of our natural systems that it was only a matter of time before disaster struck and now it has. Just like the many technologies that have allowed man to increase our population dramatically, we have two choices, advance our technologies to change the balance point or reduce our numbers dramatically. Man has literally has hard choices to make and the tech sector over a whole range of technologies is absolutely key. Since man has chosen not to rebalance its impact on the ecosystem, like any ecosystem or any system for that matter, the system will balance itself in so many ways it will be almost impossible to predict the outcomes and in an ecosystem as complex as earth, our ability to predict the numerous outcomes is almost impossible. We have already seen dramatic changes that would normally take centuries occur in decades or even less.

It is now up to all of us to see how we are going to cope with the changes we have created and change the balance points, whether it is dramatically lowering the population or changing the structure of all of our society to dramatically increase the long term carrying capacity of the planet. Diseases that strike like the coronavirus have been just one of the ways that our ecosystem would deal with imbalances and climate change will be another. There are also a whole string of possibilities that range from the benign to the catastrophic. Many models have been built and the tech sector has allowed us to create many more and more sophisticated models every year. It is now up to us to make wise, hard decisions, for if we don't, nature will make many of them for us and has already started. SemiWiki is an ideal place to start for a semiconductor design is essentially a very small closed environment to deal with and many of the tools developed and methodology can be scaled up massively by the very tools it has created. What we need to develop is a master EEDA(Earth Ecosystem Design Automation) for the plane and appropriate tools. The challenge is ours and any comments or additions are welcome, for in this short space, all I have done is to hopefully open our field of vision.

I feel adapting EDA in numerous and widespread ways is the solution to many challenges before us, since much of the logic has much wider applications for those with vision and creativity and the opportunities are to great not to go forward.
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I work in manufacturing for a good company that keeps up with the tech and is environmentally conscious. The amount of waste is really small in proportion to the quantity made and everything is recycled. Everything in transportation is more efficient; cars, buses, trucks ... People crowd around water the rest of the land they leave for the wildlife to do as they please.

I think focusing on the environment is good and it provides work for engineers as well. The tech is really impressive now and will be more impressive in a decade.


Arthur, I have similar thoughts, on the reaction of the planet on human activities, along the lines of a general principle in physics and chemistry, called Le Chatelier's principle - if a system in equilibrium is subject to a change (volume , temperature, etc.), it moves to a new equilibrium, and the change in the system's state partically counteracts the external change.



New member
It's great to have this type of insight on our bigger societal challenges expressed in the SemiWiki forum.
I would encourage you and others to explore some of the articles published by Bill Ripple and colleagues and endorsed by 1000's of scientists. Included with the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity article is a kind of dashboard with a dozen key indicators of planetary health.
You are absolutely correct that the novel coronavirus pandemic should give each one of use a reason to critically re-evaluate our impacts, as well as to repurpose design tools and production capabilities across applications. Once exciting projects that I saw recently was a local company with compact, rapid DNA testers repurposing their tools to diagnose COVID-19 infections.
Thank you!
James Mihaychuk
P.S. I would be interesting to see what engineers and scientists from other disciplines can do to take us beyond modeling enviromental impact simply as I=PAT (Ehrlich and Holdren).

Arthur Hanson

Active member
The current virus is just one way that a natural system will strike back when imbalanced and this is just the beginning, it will get far, far uglier than it is now, count on it. We have increased the carrying capacity of the planet, but not even close to what is needed for the current population. As man has encroached on areas he has never been there are going to nasty surprises, like when the Eskimos got hit with TB when outsiders encroached on their semi sterile environment. The technologies of the semi/nanotech world hold the keys to increasing the carrying capacity of the planet, but we still need to practice population control or nature, war, conflict will do it for us and the results will be very, very ugly, even beyond our imaginations. Also we must take into account junk food and bad health habits kill far, far more than the coronavirus and those that don't exercise individual responsibility should not expect others to always be able to bail them out.
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