Technology – What It Does To The Environment

Posted on July 14, 2011 in Environment

By Sandeep Dasika:

The only thing constant in our lives is change. This seemingly weird paradox has quite a number of practical implications when it comes to real life, and technology is one element that adheres to this concept. It has changed our lives for the better. With the ever-changing needs and requirements of the human race, technology has provided solutions to all our problems. Be it the hammer that we use to drive a nail or the lightning-fast computers that we use to solve complex problems or the pharmaceuticals that cure diseases- technology has helped people create the world that we see around us.

But, just as every mundane entity in this world has both good and bad to it, so does technology. While, on one hand, making our lives easier, technology has also had a devastating effect on the humankind. In the content ahead, I plan to juxtapose the pros and cons of technology, and come out with a conclusion as to whether technology is more of a boon or a bane to the environment.

The internet is one phenomenal piece of technology that needs little mentioning of how it has positively changed our lives. With its unparalleled power to unite the whole world into a global village, internet has made communication easier more than anything else. Another piece of technology that has impacted our lives for the positive is the mobile phone. Just imagine a single day in your life without your mobile. Well, the thought itself would be unsettling to many. With the so called smartphones revolutionizing the way we see, speak and ‘touch’, there is little doubt that technology is that quintessential element of the modern world, which promises to be a significant part of our otherwise insipid existence.

But yeah, just as I mentioned, to everything there are both upsides as well as downsides. There are instances when your computer might erase all of your important data or when a GPS device tells you to turn the wrong way in a one-way street. On the more dramatic side, technology has been a source of major world catastrophes, classic examples being those of World War I and World War II, when a myriad of weapons of mass destruction were produced, which resulted in a huge number of casualties. There is also a constant threat of nuclear radiations to human life — be it the recent Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan or the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, way back in 1986. The latter, in fact, is believed to be the costliest nuclear accident in history, when more than 1.7 million people were directly affected by the crisis.

Another aspect worth discussing is that of disruptive technology, i.e. a technology or innovation that has the potential to disrupt an existing market, often unexpectedly but at the same time to improve the product or service. For example, the internet has created and destroyed many markets. A classic example to cite would be that of the music industry — the way peer-to-peer file sharing technologies undermined the sales of physical, high cost CDs. Thus, one can see that in its entirety, the concept of disruptive technology itself has both good and bad to it.

At the end of the day, technology is just like a piece of paper. It is possible that the single piece of paper could be the starting page of a wonderfully scripted book, or it could simply be crumpled and thrown out along with a pile of garbage or even worse, it could be lit up and used to scathe the environment — it all depends on how you would want to use it, constructively or destructively. But yes, technology definitely does have more pros than cons, though the line of distinction is becoming narrower by the day.