GP Tuition – ‘Modern technology owes ecology an apology’. Do you agree?
Advancement in technology has brought about tremendous benefits to mankind but at the same time it has also harmed the environment. The environmentalists strongly believe that the usage of modern technology has led to the degradation of the environment. However, to the technocrats and scientists, such an assertion is absurd as they feel that modern technology is the only viable mean to solve environmental crisis. In view of these two perspectives, I am inclined to believe that modern technologies do owe ecology an apology although it can help solve some of the environment problems.
Technocrats will not share the view that modern technology owes ecology an apology as they see technology as a solution for environmental degradation rather than as a cause of environmental contamination. The usage of clean technology over fossil-fuel based technology helps to reduce the level of carbon emission which is often seen as the main culprit of global warming. Clean technology in the form of solar power, nuclear technology and hydro power are not just energy efficient but have also significantly cut down the emission of greenhouse gases from fossil-fuel based productions. It serves as a viable alternative to fossil fuel and hence does not pollute the environment.
However, it is not easy to develop alternative energy and its use is not without criticism. The high cost of financing such clean technologies makes it an unpopular choice among countries, especially the poorer nations where their priority is on economic development rather than on environmental concerns. Also, the construction of clean technology often damages the environment in the ongoing process as seen from how the building of dam which generates hydro power undermines the ecological system though it benefits the country or city that reaps the hydro-electric power. A pertinent example would be Three Gorges dam in Yangtze River. The dams have not only disrupted the ecological system in the river but have also led to the rise of flooding in low lying rural areas of China. Hence, despite benefiting a group of people with clean energy, the detrimental impacts that it brings about outweighs the positive impacts.
Standing from the view point of an environmentalist, modern technologies do owe ecology an apology simply for the few reasons mentioned below. First, modern technology promotes comfort and convenience which lead to greater consumption and production and this promotes greater usage of resources, leading to depletion and degradation of the environment. For example, the launch of the recent iPad and sold millions of units within weeks and this is a common trend seen for most Apple products. Apple products are best known for its high quality and convenience of usage. The ease of using an iPad by just using the touch of one’s fingertip makes it attractive and appealing to consumers of today. However, the production of iPad not only depletes natural resources but it is also a fossil fuel based production that contributes to the rising level of carbon emissions in today’s world. Hence, the satisfaction and comfort consumers derived from consuming more goods, made possible by modern technology come at the expense of the environment.
Though modern technology has eased accessibility, through the various mode of transport, it has worsened environmental woes. People today have a wider range of transportation to choose from and our increasing dependence on modern technology for transportation has caused us to deplete fossil fuel at a faster rate as we are unable to move away from the use of fossil fuel due to market principles and high degree of convenience. As such, the usage of the different modes of transportation emits carbon gases which are a source of global warming. Furthermore, the convenience of travelling from countries to countries made possible by modern technology has encouraged tourism. Over the year, we have seen countries developing their tourism industry at the expense of the environment. For example, many resorts are developed at tropical natural habitats which lead to a large scale of deforestation and degradation of the natural environment as we see how we contaminate the environment with rubbish and trash we dumped in these tropical resorts. Hence, tourism development would mean that the government would have to sacrifice the environment in order to achieve its aims, implying that the rise of tourism encouraged by the ease of modern transportation damages the environment.
Last but not least, modern technology is seen as a crucial tool in developing the economy which sadly to say, often comes with a price to be paid by the environment. In recent years, we have been seen the emergence of rising economies like China and India. Technological advancement accounts for their rapid development as it has allowed these countries to set up industries to produce goods to meet the world demand as seen from how China has contributed to the growth of her economy significantly. However, China is also one of the world’s leading industries in the production of carbon emission as seen from the greater increase in the coal based energy production at a rate of 2 plants being built per month in year 2009. With greater usage of modern technology to propel economic growth, the environment is at the expense of economic growth, propelled by modern technology.
In sum, it is not an accusation to assert that modern technology owes ecology an apology when we consider the detrimental effects it can create on our environment as we rely more of it for the benefits of a modern life. However, if we would to apply the modern technology to the advantage of the environment as proposed by the technocrats, such an accusation will not be justifiable.
This article is contributed by Mr. Simon Ng, founder and principal JC GP tutor of GP Tuition Bukit Timah, who has 20 years of teaching experience. Currently, Mr. Simon Ng provides specialized GP Tuition and Economics Tuition. Please visit our GP Notes page to read more of our JC General Paper articles.