The greatest challenge of this century will be conserving natural resources. Already it seems that reserves of hardwood, oil, natural gas, coal, fresh water and minerals are running low. Companies are attempting ever more dangerous extractions to meet the world’s growing demand for natural resources. As the world’s population continues to expand and as more of the world is entering a consumer paradigm the problem is getting worse. Not only is the sea, soil and sky becoming polluted but also carbon emissions are threatening to radically change the weather.
One of the many solutions that will need to be applied to avert disaster is to practice better recycling. At the moment most recycling involves extracting raw materials. For example, we take old news papers and make paper pulp. What is much harder is to take something that is broken or not wanted and turn it into something that is new. This process is called upcycling or re-purposing.
We have been conditioned to throw electrical appliances out when they don’t work. We have lost the ability to fix things. This is partly because technology has become more complicated, and partly because of conditioning inherent in the consumer society model.
Hackers are people who refuse to accept this situation. They see a broken VHS player or electric guitar and they are inspired to find a different use for the working components inside the machines. It is a mistaken notion that hackers only work on computers. Far from it, any technology interests hackers. It is about reclaiming the right to use things beyond their original purpose. It is this philosophy that needs to more widely disseminated in order to combat the myriad environmental problems that are on the near event horizon.