Although I would argue that the advancement of technology is what got us into a lot of the environmental problems we face today, technology can also certainly do its part to help us address these problems. There are many examples of technology helping the environment, including wireless communication that cuts down significantly on paper usage and decreases the demand for paper products from forests, the engineering of products that are more easily recyclable or demand few natural resources in their production, cars that require no fossil fuels to move forward and that are made from materials that are recycled or more environmentally friendly, and the development of technologies that aid in environmental recovery, such as GPS trackers on animals to aid in studies of their reintroduction or the invention of new mechanisms to help clean habitats after oil spills.
Most technology produced by humans probably is not helping the environment. Technology may be making human activity less bad for the environment or may make amends for some of the problems human industry has caused environmentally. Synthesis of naturally occurring processes to develop more natural habitat and ecosystem diversity is probably the only way that technology can be used to be beneficial for the environment.
While some believe that technology will save us so that we can continue to exploit the earth, I disagree. Technology will only take us so far, at some point the resources that do not have substitutes will be depleted. However, technology has contributed in some fashions to helping us become better stewards of the environment.
Pollution abatement throughout the years has become much more efficient. Environmental regulations are full of the phrases “best available technology” and “best practicable technology” directed towards polluting industries. Technology has made it possible for municipalities to have water treatment plants, for incinerators to have end of the pipe emissions controls, and for the reuse of hazardous materials among many other applications.
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