Column on No Miracle at All

No Miracle at All
Tibor R. Machan
For 20 years I drove a little Volvo P 1800 and I enjoyed the car
immensely. It served me and my family very well. At times I would pat it
and silently thank the engineers who designed it and the entire team of
producers who made it. I was emotional about it, actually. What a nice
thing to have and how wonderful to benefit from the works of these people,
as well as from the socio-economic system that enabled me to purchase the
car.
This morning I was checking out the news on my TV and watched some
devastations wrought by this thing many people admiringly refer to as
“nature”–actually, the wilds–in various parts of the country,
particularly in Texas, where tornadoes reeked havoc and destruction. There
was only one known fatality from several of these storms and the announcer
mentioned how this was such a miracle. As I heard this piece of
information announced, I was looking at aerial views of the regions where
the tornadoes struck and it occurred to me that the fact that few injuries
occurred was not at all a miracle, not by a long shot.
What is most responsible for the lack of widespread injury and death in
these regions? Well, that widely detested element of human society,
namely, technological and economic development. You know, those developers
who always get derided for producing rows of homes and other structures
throughout the country. And all those who manufacture the materials from
which these are built. And science and technology in general, all of that
is what produces “the miracle” the TV announcer was talking about.
Whenever one learns about earthquakes and other destructive acts of nature
in far away regions of the globe, and learns of all the human casualties
these produce, it is important to consider how little developed these
regions are? How much has science and technology influenced the living
conditions in these human habitats? The plain fact is that in most of the
regions where acts of nature bring devastation and huge human casualties,
development is meager and people live much “closer to nature,” to the
wilds, than they do in most regions of America. Even rescue efforts are
far more effective in societies with advanced technologies than where
people are living “close to nature.”
Whenever I encounter environmentalists who decry the extensive development
throughout advanced civilizations, especially America, I focus in on what
they are actually favoring as an alternative. Going back to nature. Going
back to eras when medicine was primitive, when food supplies barely
sustained the small populations, when engineering and building were all at
their beginning and the political economic conditions made progress
virtually impossible. Even the fact that these environmentalists–for
instance Alan Weisman in his disgusting book, The World Without Us
(2007)–keep taking full advantage of modern science and technology–by,
for example, using the publishing industry’s tools to propagate their
vicious message–clearly suggests that there is something very wrong with
what they advocate. Just consider all the technology it took to get Al
Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” on thousands of movie and TV screens across
the world! Back to nature my foot!
So you can imagine why I found the spectacle of the television anchor and
reporter babbling, about the miracle of the minimal human casualty from
the tornadoes, so offensive. The offended are, of course, all those folks
who have made the buildings, roads, bridges, etc., sturdy enough to keep
the devastation to the minimum. But, as the saying goes, “No good deed
ever goes unpunished.” The punishment here is, of course, the utter
failure to give credit where credit is due!
I am planning to buck this shameful trend, though. I am planning to drive
my SUV today and say a not so silent thanks to the company that produced
it so that I can roam about safely doing my errands. And if one of these
technology, engineering. or marketing folks happens to be reading my
missives, I want it known that I am very, very grateful indeed.

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