Technology Has Rapidly Advanced — But at What Cost?
Since the first Industrial Revolution during the 18th century, technological innovations have undoubtedly altered our lives in ways we may not realize, but what about the environment? The constant focus on advancing society has resulted in the environment becoming an afterthought. With the state the environment is in and the role technology has taken, it is not unreasonable to say that technology can be used to do good. Yet, the possibility of causing more harm may always linger in the shadows.
In recent decades, technology has become more environmentally cautious. Compared to the first and second Industrial Revolutions, steel, coal and mining efforts are no longer in such high demand. In place of coal,which is likely the primary cause of global warming, natural gas acts as a temporary route until cleaner energy can be incorporated into society. We have also developed recycling technology to ensure that we reuse more of our waste, established far greater efforts to neutralize carbon footprints, used less energy in our homes and done much more.
On the other hand, as a result of technology, pollution from heat and air have put ecosystems in an impossible position. Heat pollution radiates from cutting down trees, which are important in regulating the earth’s temperature. As for air pollution, carbon dioxide and other gases are not the main culprits, but the technologies used in factories that produce them are. Consider this: fossil fuels made up 89% of carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, causing more greenhouse gases to become trapped in the atmosphere and leading to global warming. As a result of the gradual decline of green energy in consumer production, weather patterns will become more extreme, more species will become extinct and the overall health of all living beings will plummet.
With that being said, the question remains: is technology a friend or a foe? In reality, we are asking the wrong question. It is not a debate about whether technology is helping, but what it can do to help. As a society living with the privilege of technology and its vast resources, we are more than capable of putting more energy towards using them to our advantage in combating the current environmental crisis. It is imperative that we look towards the future rather than stay stuck in the damage that we have allowed technology to create. Starting now, let’s use these many advantages and incredibly influential developments to better the world.