November 26, 2009

I am my own grandpa (or grandma)?

Linda MacDonald Glenn is guest blogging this month.

Can nanotechnology be sustainable? At the site,, under the section Green Futures, Peter Madden argues that nanotechnology can contribute to sustainability. But the article doesn't sit well with me -- why? Not because I'm a technophobe -- I love technology (except when it doesn't work, then I hate it).

It bugs me because I can't tell what he means by sustainability.

Who or what is being sustained? Humanity? Our Environment? The Earth? The Nanobots? Self-sustaining technology?

And who controls or decides what be will be sustained?

Don't get me wrong -- I do think there is such a thing as Green Nanotechnology; in fact Springer has just started a Journal of Green Nanotechnology.

I just don't like to see sustainability used as a feel-good buzzword.
Several key principles have emerged to guide sustainability efforts, including intergenerational equity, integrating environmental, social and economic sectors when developing sustainability policies, and preventing irreversible long-term damage to ecosystems and human health.

The article does have one good point, though: In the end, it is how we decide to apply nanotechnology that will determine its true sustainability impact.

You can check out Linda's original blog at the Women's Bioethics Blogspot.

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