Regarding the effects of technological advancement on environment, the advances in technology in the wake of the twentieth century mark a landmark and a very important era in the lives of individuals, organizations and industries all over the world. The technology driven world has made life easy and comfortable.
Industries, Academics, Health Sectors and all other areas of human endeavor can achieve more in a short time making use of technology and technology-driven facilities.
These technological accessories and machineries are located in our homes, offices, hospitals, schools (universities and colleges), laboratories, libraries, farms and every other place in our environmental premises, such technological accessories and machineries consumes various quantities of energy, but as a whole are not operating at optimal efficiency.
The inefficient use and disposal of these technological by-products within our environment do not occur in the most environmentally sound manner possible, thus resulting in diverting unwanted places to landfills or storing them for extended periods of time (Kwazo etal., 2014).
Negative Effects of Technological Advancement on Environment
According to Environmental Issues (2019), many of the technologies we use every day consume a lot more resources and power than they need to, and using and manufacturing them can create a mess. Here are a few of the ways that technology can harm the environment:
Pollution – Air, water, heat and noise pollution can all be caused by producing and using technology
Depletion of natural resources – including precious metals like gold, is used to make technology. Many others, such as coal, are consumed to generate the electricity to use technology.
Even some renewable resources, like trees and water, are becoming contaminated or are used up faster than they can renew themselves because of technology.
Wastes– Manufacturing technology creates large amounts of wastes, and used computers and electronics get thrown out when they break or become outdated. They are called technotrash. These electronics contain all sorts of hazardous materials that are very unsafe for the environment. They need to be disposed of using special methods.
Disrupting ecology – Clearing land where animals used to live to build factories and allowing pollution to contaminate the food chain can greatly affect the environment’s natural cycles.
Health hazards– Some of the technologies are manufactured using materials that can be toxic which in turn can have serious health implications or even cause cancer, and technology addiction can lead to other health problems like obesity and carpal tunnel syndrome.
The health effects can through the production of hazardous by-products. The most obvious example of technology usage producing harmful by-products is the greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions from transportation technology.
Refrigeration technology produces hazardous gases than can damage the ozone layer and produce toxic liquid effluents that make their way into drainage ways and poison water animals.
Even appliances like the clothes washer create microplastic-laden wastewater that winds up in the ocean, where it can be eaten by birds and sea animals (Gellert, 2018).
Positive Effects of Technological Advancement on Environment
In as much as there are many obvious negative effects of the advances in technology, yet there are positive effects of the advances of technology to man and environment. Environmental Issues (2019) listed some of these benefits.
It helps to develop and produce new materials and technologies that are sustainable and do not harm the environment.
It allows the monitoring and studying of the environment to better understand how it works and the impact of human activities on it.
It helps to create smarter technologies that respond to usage and adjust themselves to reduce their environmental impact, such as lights that can sense when no one is in the room and automatically turn off
It helps to have a worldwide virtual laboratory, so that experts from all fields can share their research, experience and ideas to come up with better, smarter solutions.
Not only does this allow people far away from each other to work together, but it also reduces the environmental impact people would normally cause from traveling to meet with each other
It allows for paperless communication like email and online bill paying to reduce the amount of paper being used which means less cutting down of trees.
It allows companies to reduce shipping and manufacturing impact and to reach a broader audience.
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Types of Technology
Kwazo et al., 2014 outlines different types of technology which include:
Construction technology: It covers the basic elements of substructure (site works, settings out and foundations) and super structure (flooring and roofs, simple finishes, fittings and fixtures) as well as basic services such as water, gas electricity and drainage, and considers low-rise framed industrial and commercial buildings.
Throughout the world, construction technology is responsible for high levels of pollution as a result of the energy consumed during extraction, processing and transportation of raw materials (Adalbert, 1996).
Medical /Health Technology: It refers to any intervention that may be used for safe and effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and diseases (WHO, 2013).
This includes the pharmaceuticals, devices, procedures and organizational systems used in health care (INAHTA, 2009).
Agricultural Technology: This is the application of techniques to control the growth and harvesting of plants and animal products. It refers to agricultural machinery that is used in the operation of an agricultural area or farm.
Agricultural technology focuses on technological processes used in agriculture, to create an understanding of how processes, equipment and structures are used with people, soil, plants, animals and their products, to sustain and maintain quality of life and to promote economic, aesthetic and sound cultural values.
Biotechnology: This is the use of any technique that makes use of biological systems, living organisms or their derivatives to develop, make or modify useful products, to improve plants or animals, or to develop micro-organisms for specific purposes (NABDA, 2002).
Nanotechnology: This is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. It is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale.
Environmental Technology: Environmental technology (envirotech), green technology (greentech) or clean technology (cleantech) is the application of one or more of environmental science, green chemistry, environmental monitoring and electronic devices to monitor, model and conserve the natural environment and resources, and to curb the negative impacts of human involvement.
Information Communication Technology (ICT): This is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data (Daintith, 2009).
ICT is universally regarded as essential tools in enhancing environmental problems (such as environmental pollution). Today, it is commonly accepted that; ICTs has significant impacts on the environment.
Some categories of technology, such as electronics, require resources that are difficult to acquire without harming the environment. For example, the advanced batteries in hybrid cars are composed of nickel and rare-earth metals.
Mining these materials is a significant source of harmful emissions, including solvent vapors, sulfuric acid and coal dust. Acid-laden water discharges kill all plant and animal life around nearby waterways and have sickened and killed nearby rural residents (Gellert, 2018).
New advances in technology often render old technology useless. Discarding outdated or worn out technological goods is a significant source of environmental damage.
For example, contemporary compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which is toxic to both humans and animals. Old thermometers also contained mercury, as do some batteries manufactured prior to the mid-1990s.
Discarded vehicles left in place for long periods eventually leak toxic fluids into the ground, where they kill plants, animals and soil microbes.
Rainfall can wash pollutants from the discarded technology into waterways, spreading poisons into natural systems and the human food supply (Gellert, 2018).
In summary, advances in technology have both negative and positive impacts in the lives of persons and the environment. Thus, what is needed in the management and manufacturing of recent technology is for the stake holders to strike a balance.
This can come by education and public awareness. Also the disposal of used and worn-out technological equipment and gadgets should be done having in the principles of environmental management.
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