By Varun Shrivats:
Usually, one would associate the word ‘ubiquitous’ with its frequent role as a tool for chiseling out a hyperbole. To illustrate this, consider a simple situation, wherein a town is facing the wrath of malaria. People of the town would not be reluctant in saying that malaria is ubiquitous. Neither would the Plasmodium Vivaxes of some other, in saying that vaccination is ubiquitous.
Still, if there is one context where we can use the aforementioned word in a statement without making it a hyperbole, it is that which concerns science. Science is like the air we breathe. The ‘Ubiquitous’ used to describe air would be the one appropriate for science.
Science is merely not an option in life. It is the way of thinking, and more importantly, the way of implementing the thoughts that the thinking gives birth to. No one is a complete illiterate in science. The hobo on the street who cannot add 5 and 5 will have enough science in him to make him realize the comfort of rubbing his hands during the cold nights.
The successful manifestations of science are too many and too varied. We can look at the stylish frame of our spectacles and let ourselves feel awed, or we could look at the infinite features of an iPhone. With science comes its companion, and a very important one at that, the technology. It is a way of implementing an idea. We could talk to another person using technology that employs phones, or we could do so using a technology that employs computer microphones, internet, and webcams.
The importance of science and technology cannot be explained by a mere play with words. Everything that we do is because of the thoughts that arise due to one, and every equipment/gadget that we use constitutes the result of the other.
All successful civilizations till date have rested on the shoulders of science and technology, and all such future civilizations can be expected to follow suit. A society’s progress depends more than anything on the rational thinking of its people, and the science and technology at their disposal.
But, as they say, the cat does not come without the litter box. With science, there have been far too many litter boxes. Because whenever there’s a breakthrough in science, the people behind it always look to cash in on the breakthrough, rather than analyze whether this breakthrough carries any baggage along with it.
Simple is the case of the air-conditioners. Obviously, it would have been a Herculean task, successfully manufacturing the A.Cs, but the invention would have been an even better one had the manufacturers paused to think of any environmental issues that might be caused because of this.
Let us now take a look at the toll taken on the environment because of A.C.s. There has been a sharp increase in the sales of air conditioning systems in recent years due to global warming which has lead to the debate whether air conditioners are harming our environment or not. The continually increasing use of cooling systems in homes and offices is leading to consumption of large amounts of electricity and as a result, the planet is being further polluted.
Basing his research on the data released by the U.S government, Stan Cox from the Land Institute in Kansas has revealed that more than 1500 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted each year from air conditioning the average US home.
The impact of this is much worse during the night. In the past, outdoor air used to cool at night in most areas, providing people with a chance to recover from the heat of the day and get a good night sleep. These days, the air cools significantly less at night which is one reason why heat stress is affecting more and more people, says Stan Cox.
While air conditioning is not the only cause of global warming, it is one of the factors that have led to the worsening of the situation. There is an agreement among the experts at present that new housing plans need to take into account climate change when houses are being designed.
A.C.s are not the only perpetrators of environmental problems, because many objects like deodorants, refrigerators, would quite easily fit in this category.
I’m not suggesting that we completely do away with A.C.s or perfumes. Because the habitant of earth who’s been the reason for many of the earth’s problems is also the one who’ll come up with a solution for it. We put our hearts in danger due to smoking and neglecting exercises. Yet, we always try coming up with new and ingenious methods of reducing this danger.
Now is as good a time as any to quote an article that recently found its place in yahoo.com. “A tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, could monitor the heart round the clock and save lives. The chip has been designed to pick up the early warning signs of heart failure. The chip works by measuring the heart’s function – including blood pressure – up to 200 times a second. When a doctor places a hand-held receiver next to the patient’s ribcage, the tiny sensor instantly transmits its findings, reports the Daily Mail. The problem with current techniques is that they provide only a brief snapshot of what’s going on in the heart, rather than measuring its performance over days or weeks, which can be a more accurate indicator. If problems can be detected early, it is possible to reduce the damage and improve heart function with drugs and surgery. The chip can be left in place for several months – it is inserted via a tiny tube fed into the heart.”
The previous paragraph was placed in the hope that it would serve as an innuendo to the fact that we, the humans, are beings of enormous capabilities. If we have enough intelligence to design and come up with a device as complex as Air conditioner, then we can surely come up with a new technology that counters its bad effects. Coming to support this point is the following paragraph:
To help avoid the harmful effects of electrical air conditioning, there are ways of achieving air conditioning that don’t use energy at all. This includes the use of geothermal pumps in which the coolness of the ground is used as a battery. These kinds of pumps make use of the heat from the ground to warm the house during the winter and then in summer time, the pump sends heat from the building into the ground. These geothermal pumps serve two functions with minimal energy consumption and without causing harm to the environment.
In conclusion, I would like to say that Science is like a Genie. Its complete and judicious usage rests solely on its user and master i.e. on us, the humans. If a little extra effort is put before and into the designing of a new technology to minimize environmental problems, we could very well be looking at a really bright and pollutant free future.