Our environment has always been susceptible to pollution, deforestation and all sorts of misuse by humankind. This problem has been magnified by the development of technology over time, compromising the wellbeing of the already broken environment and exposing humans to even greater danger of deadly chemicals and depletion of ecosystems which are a threat to the life our environment strives to support.
Technology negatively affects the environment by compromising human health and safety, endangering natural ecosystems and biodiversity, having a cumulative impact on global systems, and depleting natural resources. Technology positively affects the environment through the application of environmental science to solve problems caused by human environmental impact.
Risks to humans from environmental damage through technology include inhalation of dangerous chemicals in air pollution, contamination of water and food sources, and risk of infections and diseases through exposure to toxic wastes. Flora and fauna risk habitat loss or disruption and extinction of species through exposure to dangerous byproducts of technology. Greenhouse gases affect atmosphere and weather systems, causing global warming and chlorofluorocarbons that deplete the Earth’s ozone layer. Technology consumes resources which are not necessarily renewable, including living resources, such as forests and populations of fish, and inanimate resources, such as natural chemicals and minerals.
Although technology damages the environment in many ways, it also has the capability to limit or prevent the damage using such environmental technologies as recycling, the exploitation of renewable-energy sources such as solar power and wind power, the purification of polluted air and water, the treatment of sewage and factory wastes, and the development and production of devices that promote energy conservation.
Despite the risks that technology poses to the environment, the effect of damage caused can be minimized if the society could embrace friendly technologies. Dealing with issues of carbon in the air and switching to use of better energy generation modes as well as helping support for trees which aid us in fighting environmental degradation are some of the ways that can help curb the environmental degradation menace.
Sure, we can grab carbon and shove it underground, but why not make it into something else — like baking soda or chairs — and sell it instead? Marc Gunther, author of “Suck It Up: How Capturing Carbon from the Air Can Help Solve the Climate Crisis,” points to Carbon Engineering and Global Thermostat as promising carbon capture companies. Once captured through these companies’ technologies, carbon can be used in industrial or commercial production, to produce low-carbon fuels or for other applications.
Nuclear energy technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But rather than ramp up conventional, highly controversial approaches, why not mobilize technologies that address concerns with today’s reactors, such as meltdowns and waste? Some possibilities are nuclear reactor design company Transatomic Power’s Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor and Bill Gates-backed traveling wave reactors, both of which are designed to use byproducts of conventional nuclear power production as fuel.