How Technology Negatively Impacts the Environment
“Among these dark Satanic Mills?”
— From William Blake’s 1810 poem, Milton.
The emergence of the factory system during the Industrial Revolution had profound consequences on the environment. As factory construction multiplied in the 1700s and 1800s, the amount of pollutants released into the environment increased dramatically, having a negative effect on the quality of the air and water.
Factory work also attracted people from the countryside, all looking for more stable work because of the mechanization of farming. This demographic shift brought overcrowding. In the 18th century, London expanded by around 200,000 inhabitants as a result of industrialization. In the first half of the 19th century, however, the population increased by 1.4 million, which necessitated more energy use. Damage to the air and water became so bad that by the middle of the 19th century, fish could not survive in the lower Thames River (Noble et al., 1994).
While pollution may not appear as bad today as it was in London in 1850, technology-induced environmental damage continues to have a detrimental impact on the world. The most prominent and current issue is climate change. While a few scientists still question the impact of climate change (including the issue of human-caused warming), the overwhelming consensus among scientists is that climate change is a problem the world needs to address in a forthright manner, and quickly (NASA, n.d.).
Donald Aitken, the former Chairman of the Department of Environmental Studies at San Jose University, has spoken out about the dangers of global warming and the human activity that has caused it. “This awareness,” he asserts, “is only now dawning, driven by dramatic and disturbing changes in local and global climate and water systems, changes that are known to be largely the result of human decisions and actions. But humans have elected to cause these changes” (Aitken, 2014).
A number of nations choose not to significantly address climate change. Governments often exhibit a strong tendency to avoid difficult or politically costly decisions (e.g., fixing Social Security). Instead of bold and decisive action, they embrace short-term or painless solutions to societal problems, including climate change. Or, they simply postpone difficult issues, leaving them for future generations to deal with.
Within the United States, a Pew Research Center survey found that “two-thirds of U.S. adults (67%) say the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change, and similar shares say the same about government efforts to protect air (67%) and water quality (68%)” (Funk & Hefferon, 2019).
Another problem confronting nations is the uncertainty of what should (or can) be done by nations and businesses to positively affect climate change. Professor Rudi Volti, scholar on the impact of technology on society, recognizes this dilemma, but argues that “the reality of human-induced climate change, can no longer be questioned” (Volti, 2017, p. 107).
Ultimately, the question must be asked: how can we stop polluting our lands?
Directions: Using the required academic readings and supplemental academic research, please address the following while adhering to the Discussion Board Rubric:
For this Discussion Board, pick an example of a technology that has directly or indirectly negatively affected the environment and answer the following questions:
Funk, C., & Hefferon, M. (2019, December 30). U.S. public views on climate and energy. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2019/11/25/u-s-public-views-on-climate-and-energy/
NASA. (n.d.) Do scientists agree on climate change? Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/17/do-scientists-agree-on-climate-change/
Noble, T. F., Strauss, B. S., Osheim, O. J., Neuschel, K. B., Cohen, W. B., & Roberts, D. D. (1994). Western civilization: The continuing experiment. Houghton Mifflin.
Volti, R. (2017). Society and technological change (8th ed.). Worth.
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