Letter: A millennium stuck in the past

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The Independent Online
A millennium stuck in the past

Sir: The fault with the millennium exhibition is that the whole idea of the grand exhibition of technology is an anachronism. When the Great Exhibition was held the Industrial Revolution was still young. Most people had not previously ventured as far as the metropolis, and the sights to be seen in the Crystal Palace were truly wondrous.

Many comparable exhibitions have been held since, all over the world, but they are all essentially the same thing, a demonstration of the latest achievements of human technological mastery over nature. There is no longer anything wondrous about this. Most people have themselves travelled at speeds approaching that of sound, and risen by machine above 30,000 feet in the air. We can all see moving colour images from all over the world at the touch of a button in our own homes.

After millennia of struggling against nature in a battle for survival it was only natural that the latest power of human achievement should be a cause of wonder and excitement. But that struggle is over. The struggle now is against our own profligacy; the powers of nature are tamed. The grand exposition is faintly ridiculous, rather like the local Bijou cinema in the age of television.

A far more appropriate way of celebrating the millennium, if we must celebrate an arbitrary date, would be in taking a grand step towards conserving what is left of the natural world - creating a true, properly funded, national park perhaps.