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By Diane Ackerman

Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand journey of the world of the senses comprises conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a pro nostril in big apple, in addition to dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic delicacies and the tune performed via the planet Earth.

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Some people are satisfied by the purchase of a multitude of things and gadgets; this is the essence of material desire. In comparison, desire fulfilled by, for example, experiencing a sense of achievement in your work, or from repairing your old, oily car over and over again is a spiritual—or immaterial—desire. 1 Manufacturing and Living with Consideration for People 33 Desires that can only be fulfilled by things and goods require large volumes of resources and energy and inevitably impact greatly on the environment.

3 Further weeding out, beyond eco-technologies, is required technologies that help realize such lifestyles. So far, the main focus has been on how to use already existing technologies in society. As a result of this approach, human activities have swollen, thus causing the global environmental problem. Prosperity as such is necessary to enable decent, humane lives, and technology supposedly exists to help create this prosperity. Technology really is nothing more than a set of tools enabling human lives.

If we were able to return, or to let go, the global environmental problem would not have arisen. Needless to say, we are not arguing that this irreversibility of quality of life is in itself an evil; once you have experienced great music, you want to hear more of it, once you have stood face to face with beautiful paintings, you want to see more… This is the way in which culture has progressed. If, however, we can say that it is the single-minded pursuit of the material aspect of quality of life that is the root cause of the environmental problem, then we obviously must avoid fuelling this kind of desire.

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