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?
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