Time Travel

At the beginning of his 2010 TedTalk, The danger of science denial, Michael Specter asks if given the chance to travel through time, whether you would choose to go into the future or return to the past. My response would be to go back to a simpler time, a time before technology had busied our lives and caused such harm to our environment. Our consumption of energy and disposable lifestyles have without question had a negative impact on our environment. The realities of global warming, water shortages, e-waste and many other forms of pollution, make for an uncertain and not so promising future.

Yet this week, as I explored the topic of technology and the environment, I began to shift my perspective. Advancements in technology are helping to improve recycling processes, enabling us to recover various materials using less energy consumption and without the side effects of harmful pollution. (Mianqiang, Jia & Zhenming, 2012; Kasper, Bernardes & Veit, 2011). As highlighted in The Nature of Things episode The Nano Revolution: Will Nano Save the Planet?, nano technologies make it possible to clean arsenic from contaminated groundwater, make solar power more efficient and affordable, and remediate contaminated soil.

Technologies have indeed caused many of the problems we are facing, but they most definitely have the power to help us solve problems too. Certainly we must proceed with care and attention to the possible side effects of new technologies. Every effort must be made to reduce our negative impact on the environment. Education and increased awareness are imperative “..to help prepare students to live and work in an eco-minded yet increasingly complex technological society.” (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 58). But if we can educate and inspire our students to become engaged thinkers, ethical citizens, and innovative entrepreneurs, they will find ways to make tomorrow better than today.

So on second thought, maybe I would set the destination dial to the future after all. What about you?

References:

Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60.

Kasper, A., Bernardes, A., & Veit, H. (2011). Characterization and recovery of polymers from mobile phone scrap. Waste Management & Research: The Journal Of The International Solid Wastes & Public Cleansing Association, ISWA, 29(7), 714-726.

Mianqiang, X., Jia, L., & Zhenming, X. (2012). Environmental friendly crush-magnetic separation technology for recycling metal-plated plastics from end-of-life vehicles. Environmental Science & Technology, 46(5), 2661-2667.

Specter, M. (Feb. 2010). The danger of science denial. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=plpp&v=7OMLSs8t1ng

The Nature of Things. (Mar. 30, 2013). The Nano Revolution: Will Nano Save the Planet? [Television series episode]. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/the-nano-revolution-will-nano-save-the-planet.html

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4 Responses to Time Travel

  1. Skye says:

    Kim,
    Your post values the past and present with a deeper analysis for what technology has done for society rather than what it has taken away. If we spend too much time dwelling on the past we lose sight of our present and rob ourselves of a better future. It is imperative to remind ourselves of the past in order to arm ourselves with the knowledge that helped us to evolve and maintain human existence by avoiding the mistakes and learning from them.

    I thought it was interesting to compare the ideas of past problems like human lifespan and healthcare with the technologies highlighted in The Nature of Things episode, The Nano Revolution: Will Nano Save the Planet?, where nano-technologies have the potential to regenerate tissues. Technology has increased the longevity of our lives and human ingenuity has projected the issues that come with it, such as quality of life in old age. If we live longer, how will our bodies stay healthy and strong if our tissues are deteriorating faster that our minds or vise versa with deteriorating minds and perfectly healthy bodies? Nano-technology seeks to solve this issue along with many others.

    In Dickerson & Kisling’s (2009, p.58) study, they conclude that “business education can help prepare students to live and work in an eco-minded yet increasingly complex technological society” however, based on our learning throughout this term, I wonder why these topics and issues are not being covered in all subject areas earlier in our education systems? Perhaps the earlier we can reach our children/students the earlier they may be making better decisions and creating solutions and strategies to, as you have suggested, live better in the present and the future.

    References:

    Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60.

    The Nature of Things. (Mar. 30, 2013). The Nano Revolution: Will Nano Save the Planet? [Television series episode]. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/the-nano-revolution-will-nano-save-the-planet.html

  2. kamal punit says:

    Hello Kim,
    I like your optimistic approach towards technology. You point out that technology may help to solve the problems that are created by us, human. These problems do affect each one of us. So it may be easy to conclude the problem is not technology by itself but the use, or perhaps overuse and misuse by mankind. The problems of the present and past hold danger for our future but must be solved now. Klemes (2010, p. 587) points out a controlled open system for maximizing waste processing for maximum efficiency called “Microregion’. This is particularly interesting example in regard to for technology seeking out answers for the problems that we face. But can any of this be a proof enough that we are not creating further problems? I believe in the strengths of technology and the potential differences it brings about in our daily lives. The video of nanotechnology (Suzuki, 2013) exemplifies the abilities it has to cleanse water, polluted air and soil but also highlights how much more it will make us dependent on itself. Perhaps the challenge for educators is to make sure that students understand the impact of their choice on a macro level.
    References:
    Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary.Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy, 12(6), 587-589. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=55022955&site=ehost-live

    Suzuki, D. (2013). The Nano Revolution: Welcome to Nano City. Retrieved from The Nature of
    Things website: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/ the-nano-revolution-welcome-to-nano-city.html

  3. ttallerico says:

    When I was younger, I had a friend who said if anything serious ever happened to him, he wanted to be placed in a cryogenic sleep because he had such faith in the future and the ingenuity of mankind. There was no doubt in his mind that a cure, rehabilitation or surgical procedure would be developed.

    I guess that is how I feel about our future as well. Although we have read about a lot of problems in our world this week, I am optimistic that when educated, individually we are capable of reasoning and willing to do the right thing. As stated by Green (2012) “by looking at history before us we can see our own crucial decisions in a broader context and I believe that context can help us make better choices-and better changes.” Globally, governments are setting stringent environmental targets and standards that are pushing the research and development departments of many conglomerations to develop new technologies to address these targets. (Klemes, 2010, p. 589)

    Does that mean I am not concerned about the present and the future? Of course I am. Despite all we have read about new technologies being developed to assist us with looking after our planet while still living in the reality of the 21st century, some of the problems we have caused may not be easily fixed even with technological advances. The “garbage patches” in the oceans will not be able to be removed without a devastating loss to the ecosystem there. (Marine Debris Website, 2012). Leaving the plastic riddled patches there will mean that fish and sealife will continue to ingest them, affecting the food chain as well as the introducing potential toxic effects. (STAP information document, 2011, p.9-10)

    So massive challenges still lie before us. We must continue to work hard to remediate the problems we have already caused, prepare for what other unforeseen consequences will occur and re-envision our roles in the future. But I would still choose to time travel to the future. I still believe in the potential that it holds.

    References:

    Green, J. (2012). Globalization 2 – good or bad – crash course world history #42. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_iwrt7D5OA&feature=player_embedded

    Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary. Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy, 12(6), 587-589. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=55022955&site=ehost-live

    Marine Debris Website. (2012). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from:
    http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/patch.html#7

    Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). (2011). Marine debris as a global environmental problem. Retrieved from:
    http://www.thegef.org/gef/sites/thegef.org/files/publication/STAP%20MarineDebris%20-%20website.pdf

  4. caroleware says:

    Past, Present, Future – Hmmm I don’t really know what the answer is.

    I of course have a strong interest in the science of the future. Our students are interested and learning about creating a sustainable future – it’s imperative for them and the generations that follow. Klemes (2010) states that “sustainable development requires maximum possible utilization of renewable sources as well as minimization of waste production and waste recycling” (p. 589). He further speaks to the need for processing plants to start to consider the sorting, recycling and incineration of the items they are creating.

    This week we have examined numerous environmental concerns that need to be addressed on a global platform. Marine plastics, deforestation, pollution, all need scientists and technology to solve them. I don’t think we can ignore the issues anymore, nor can we continue to consume items in the way that we have been and still are. “Unregulated e-waste management creates health risks to the welfare of both humans and the environment” (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 52). The incredible advances in science and technology will help to begin solving our problems, but we also need to increase awareness of not only the problems, but the whys, the hows, and the solutions we can all help with.

    I think I will choose the future, it will be interesting to see where we end up.

    References:
    Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60.

    Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary. Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy, 12(6), 587-589. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=55022955&site=ehost-live

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