Wallace-Wells points out that even though thousands of scientists, perhaps hundreds of thousands, are daily trying to impress on lay readers the urgency of collective action, the religion (his word) of technology creates a belief that, to the extent there is some distant-and-disputed problem, everything will be mysteriously solved by some combination of machine learning and post-Earth survival. We’ll live in spaceships and eat lab-printed meat, and Elon Musk will fix things.
I see a parallel in another big news story: the hype and enthusiasm about 5G wireless as the “thing that will make the existing [communications] model obsolete.” 5G is touted as the solution to all our problems—which sounds pretty unrealistic, as I’ve written in the past. (We’ll still need fiber wires everywhere, including deep in rural areas, to make 5G serve everyone, and there’s a real risk that we’ll end up with local 5G monopolies absent wise government intervention.) And there’s a new (to me) angle to 5G that I’ve resisted in the past: What if transmissions to and from 5G cells, which will need to be everywhere, and much closer to us than traditional cell towers, pulsing out very-high-frequency radio waves at high power levels, pose real risks to human health?