Appropriate Technology Wiki

People around the world are working on appropriate technology. Most of them don’t know each other – aren’t aware of others with knowledge that might inform their own work. Connecting these people and this knowledge is what we had in mind when we started this Appropriate Technology Wiki almost 3 years ago.

“Appropriate Technology Wiki” is one way of describing Appropedia – it could also be called a sustainability wiki, an international development wiki, public health wiki, a wiki for thrivability, for abundance, or many other things. But appropriate technology sums up so much: the right solution for the context, relying on ingenuity,  efficiency and awareness of the environment, rather than throwing resources at a problem.

By this definition, are you working on appropriate technology? Do you want to see a comprehensive resource, a guide to solutions? Join us: Use Appropedia, contribute to it, and make sure appropriate technologists around the world know about it. And leave a comment to let us know how it’s helping you.

Appropriate Technology Wiki

People around the world are working on appropriate technology. Most of them don’t know each other – aren’t aware of others with knowledge that might inform their own work. Connecting these people and this knowledge is what we had in mind when we started this Appropriate Technology Wiki almost 3 years ago.

“Appropriate Technology Wiki” is one way of describing Appropedia – it could also be called a sustainability wiki, an international development wiki, public health wiki, a wiki for thrivability, for abundance, or many other things. But appropriate technology sums up so much: the right solution for the context, relying on ingenuity,  efficiency and awareness of the environment, rather than throwing resources at a problem.

By this definition, are you working on appropriate technology? Do you want to see a comprehensive resource, a guide to solutions? Join us: Use Appropedia, contribute to it, and make sure appropriate technologists around the world know about it. And leave a comment to let us know how it’s helping you.

The Dalek solution to climate change

Most or all of us in the Appropedia community and the Appropedia project stand for abundance, for thrivability. We believe in using every tool at our disposal to make a better quality of life, building and working within a thriving ecosystem in which there is no waste and which enhances the renewal of natural resources.

One very different “solution” that is sometimes heard for the climate crisis, for reducing our environmental impact in all ways, is to drastically cut the human population. In some cases there is even an optimistic quality to these writings, looking forward to a better time after the population has been reduced by 90% or more. These comments left on a New Scientist article are an example:

A managed reduction in the human population to a sustainable 300 million would do much to reduce the amount of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere.

Of course it would – but most of us will find this a ghastly thought – there’s no pretty way to slash our numbers in a short period of time, and I don’t think we want to call in the 20th century’s experts in population reduction, (all of whom exterminated millions who stood in the way of the utopias they were building).*

A crash would certainly have its benefits, just as the Black Death had positive effects – leaving more food and more land per person, and less serfs per feudal estate, and giving serfs the openings to swap their allegiance to a lord offering a better deal. Most of us, though, want a solution that doesn’t involve massive death by chaos or eugenics, just as we don’t want another Black Death.

To be fair, this commenter seemed to imagine something other than mass murder or letting massive numbers of people die somehow:

People respond well to draconian measures of population control when it is explained to them in a simple clear manner – like I say China is a case in point.

The error here being that China has not reduced its population, merely slowed its growth. So we’re back to killing people, if we really want this population crash.

Some good and sobering points about this kind of population crash utopia were made in response, in the same comments section:

Also how does dropping the population to 300 million help, if for example America wiped everyone else out we would still have a problem because America produces so much CO2.

and

I’d have to imagine that there would be more than a few loudly vocal dissenters to this plan, many of these carrying weapons of some sort and more than happy to ensure that you, or I for that matter, are among the cull while they survive…

Use less, it makes sense.

My favorite responses, though, suggested that if instead of reducing our population size, we should reduce our literal size:

We should be genetically engineering humans to be smaller, Lillypudlians or smaller, same dimensions just smaller. We would have all the resources we need then we could manage up to a sustainable population instead. I am a bit worried about cats though!

and

Yes, this will be beneficial for the space program.

Ultimately humans could be reduced to the size and shape of a Dalek.

Certainly preference to employing the Daleks to carry out the “Exterminate!” policy to bring us down to  300 million.

More seriously, this still leaves the issue of how we can sustainably and drastically reduce our impact, without starving ourselves or killing each other off. I’ll be blogging in coming days and weeks about abundance, resilience, the future of agriculture and population growth.

*The reference to genocidal maniacs is not meant to cause offence – the point is that this “population crash” option really is that bad, but on an even bigger scale.

Minor typos were corrected in the quoted comments.

The Dalek solution to climate change

Most or all of us in the Appropedia community and the Appropedia project stand for abundance, for thrivability. We believe in using every tool at our disposal to make a better quality of life, building and working within a thriving ecosystem in which there is no waste and which enhances the renewal of natural resources.

One very different “solution” that is sometimes heard for the climate crisis, for reducing our environmental impact in all ways, is to drastically cut the human population. In some cases there is even an optimistic quality to these writings, looking forward to a better time after the population has been reduced by 90% or more. These comments left on a New Scientist article are an example:

A managed reduction in the human population to a sustainable 300 million would do much to reduce the amount of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere.

Of course it would – but most of us will find this a ghastly thought – there’s no pretty way to slash our numbers in a short period of time, and I don’t think we want to call in the 20th century’s experts in population reduction, (all of whom exterminated millions who stood in the way of the utopias they were building).*

A crash would certainly have its benefits, just as the Black Death had positive effects – leaving more food and more land per person, and less serfs per feudal estate, and giving serfs the openings to swap their allegiance to a lord offering a better deal. Most of us, though, want a solution that doesn’t involve massive death by chaos or eugenics, just as we don’t want another Black Death.

To be fair, this commenter seemed to imagine something other than mass murder or letting massive numbers of people die somehow:

People respond well to draconian measures of population control when it is explained to them in a simple clear manner – like I say China is a case in point.

The error here being that China has not reduced its population, merely slowed its growth. So we’re back to killing people, if we really want this population crash.

Some good and sobering points about this kind of population crash utopia were made in response, in the same comments section:

Also how does dropping the population to 300 million help, if for example America wiped everyone else out we would still have a problem because America produces so much CO2.

and

I’d have to imagine that there would be more than a few loudly vocal dissenters to this plan, many of these carrying weapons of some sort and more than happy to ensure that you, or I for that matter, are among the cull while they survive…

Use less, it makes sense.

My favorite responses, though, suggested that if instead of reducing our population size, we should reduce our literal size:

We should be genetically engineering humans to be smaller, Lillypudlians or smaller, same dimensions just smaller. We would have all the resources we need then we could manage up to a sustainable population instead. I am a bit worried about cats though!

and

Yes, this will be beneficial for the space program.

Ultimately humans could be reduced to the size and shape of a Dalek.

Certainly preference to employing the Daleks to carry out the “Exterminate!” policy to bring us down to  300 million.

More seriously, this still leaves the issue of how we can sustainably and drastically reduce our impact, without starving ourselves or killing each other off. I’ll be blogging in coming days and weeks about abundance, resilience, the future of agriculture and population growth.

*The reference to genocidal maniacs is not meant to cause offence – the point is that this “population crash” option really is that bad, but on an even bigger scale.

Minor typos were corrected in the quoted comments.

Search Appropedia with one click: handy bookmarklets

If you can add to or improve these instructions, or want to see the most up to date version, go to Search bookmarklets on the Appropedia wiki.

Highlight text on a web page, click a button on your bookmarks toolbar, and perform a search for that term on Appropedia. Sound handy? Here’s how you make the button (I’m using Firefox, but I think it will work similarly on other browsers):

  1. Copy the following code to your clipboard (i.e. highlight and press ctrl c):
    javascript:(function(){q=document.getSelection();%20if(!q){void(q=prompt('Appropedia%20keywords:',''))};%20if(q)location.href='http://www.appropedia.org/Special:Search?search='+escape(q)})()
  2. Right click on an empty space on your bookmark. (If there is no empty space, there should be a “>>” symbol at the right end of the bar. Rightclick this.)
  3. Choose “New Bookmark” and enter a name such as “Appropedia”. (I use “Ap” so it uses less space.)
  4. Paste the code from clipboard (ctrl v) into the “Location” field.
  5. Click the “Add” button. This will create the button – if you wish, you can drag and drop to a different place on the toolbar.

I’d rather just give a links to drag and drop, but creating javascript links in WordPress or in MediaWiki is beyond me. If you know how, please help us out, so we could add this to the front page of the wiki, and put them in blog posts.

You can do the same thing with other wikis, e.g. this is the code for the French language Ekopedia:

javascript:(function(){q=document.getSelection();%20if(!q){void(q=prompt('Ekopedia%20keywords:',''))};%20if(q)location.href='http://fr.ekopedia.org/Special:Search?search='+escape(q)})()

And this is for Wikipedia:

javascript:(function(){q=document.getSelection();%20if(!q){void(q=prompt('Wikipedia%20keywords:',''))};%20if(q)location.href='http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search='+escape(q)})()

Making your own bookmarklet

Or do you want another wiki or website? Easy – the following method has worked for any MediaWiki site I’ve tried. (It should work for most other sites as well, though you may have to adjust it a little.) Let’s take [Greenlivingpedia:|Greenlivingpedia] as an example. Just go to the site and search for something that you isn’t a page title in the wiki, such as qwerty. Then look at the url:

http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Special:Search?search=qwerty&go=Go

Just delete the search term (qwerty), and anything after it, giving you:

http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Special:Search?search=

Now, in the original code for Appropedia, at the beginning of the post, replace the appropedia.org search term in the code (“http://www.appropedia.org/Special:Search?search=“) which is inside single quote marks, with the new site’s search url. Leave the single quote marks there, so you replace ‘http://www.appropedia.org/Special:Search?search=’ with ‘http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Special:Search?search=’ – then just replace the “prompt” term in the code with something appropriate (e.g. just change Appropedia to Greenlivingpedia, so 'Appropedia%20keywords:' becomes 'Greenlivingpedia%20keywords:' ).

So, putting the changes in italics, you now have:

javascript:(function(){q=document.getSelection();%20if(!q){void(q=prompt('Greenlivingpedia%20keywords:',''))};%20if(q)location.href='http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Special:Search?search='+escape(q)})()

Hat tip: Geek to Live: Ten Must-Have Bookmarklets, by Gina Trapani, Oct 5 2005. This gave the code for the Wikipedia lookup bookmarklet.