As the population on this earth keeps multiplying, the environment steadily degrades. For every day that passes, Earth is more polluted than it was twenty four hours earlier. The future of the human race is at stake, but when battling the demons of pollution and global warming, how can we preserve for tomorrow when we don’t know if we will have enough to survive today? Ten years ago, children in the sixth grade learn there are three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. Today, they are taught there are four states of matter – solid, liquid, gas and plasma. The periodic table is more encompassing than what it was a few years ago. The same robot prototype that used to repeat words scientists spoke to them ten years ago now clean homes and replace working employees in certain jobs.
Science has leapt forward and technology is flourishing. We are the product of futuristic social thinking and engineering marvels, and we have witnessed cell phones take over land-lines, laptops take over personal computers and e-mail take over text messaging. We have sent missions to Mars and split the atom further to enquire into the concept of creation, hoping to find the God particle which scientists believe is the reason of our existence. We are the future; we are the next generation this environment is being preserved for. With our advancement in science and technology, can we do a better job of preserving the Earth than the generation before us did? Can our generation, where people tweet louder than birds, reverse the damage to the environment? Given the resources at our disposal, and the scientific temperament nurtured by the urgency to find a solution to the world’s environment problems, can we make a change? This article hopes to answer these questions.
Ability to go paper free
Every kid on the street is armed with a smart phone and almost all students and professionals have laptops and tablets. While it is impossible to envisage a world with absolutely no paper, it is not difficult to reduce the use of paper when individuals are armed with electronic devices. Since laptops and phones were a rarity a decade back, consumption of paper was heavy. However, since the world functions on the internet and everything from banking to shopping can be done with a click of the mouse, the ability to reduce the use of paper is much more viable now than it was before.
Knowledge dissemination through the internet
Since the world meets on the internet, there is no dearth of knowledge today. Since the previous generation did not have access to a lot of environment related matter, except rare releases of books like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and documentaries like the inconvenient truth by Al Gore (the former Vice President of the United States of America). These days, everything can be accessed online. Encyclopedias, books, news, movies, documentaries, videos and articles related to the environment, global warming, the green house effect, carbon footprints and biodiversity conservation can be viewed.
If you are worried whether a certain brand uses pesticides, all you need to do is Google it. If you want to know if a cosmetic product you plan to buy tests on animals, visit the PETA website online. Resources have grown exponentially on the internet and information dissemination has increased drastically. We can no longer plead ignorance, as we have everything we need to know to become more environmentally aware in the form of the World Wide Web.
Evolution of new spheres of science
Right now, the world is entering into a new science era. If the Renaissance in the fourteenth century was the freedom of knowledge and rebirth of the eighteenth century, this is our generation’s age of scientific marvel. Areas of science like biotechnology and robotics which emerged during the late twentieth century have given way to quantum biology (the application of quantum mechanics in biological processes carried out with the aim of creating new drugs and biological systems), nutrigenomics (studies the relationship between food consumed and its effect on genetic disposition), synthetic biology (it is the creation of synthetic life by designing biological parts), environmental biotechnology (the process of applying biotechnology to achieve sustainable use of the environment) which are different spheres of science which may alter the way we view the world and our environment.
Things to be vary of…
As we step into this glorious phase filled with possibilities to save our environment, we should remember a few things.
While we may carry the world in our pockets with our mobile phones, we must understand that technology comes at a cost, and this is disposal of electronic waste. If e-waste is disposed incorrectly, it can lead to the escape of hazardous materials into the earth’s atmosphere or into the ground, thereby poisoning the water and air. E-waste is a huge problem in today’s world and we need to adopt measures to gradually reduce and soon altogether eliminate e-waste.
Overdependence on Science
Roughly around fifty years back, India undertook the Green Revolution. This involved using high grade fertilizer and hybrid seeds to increase crop yield. It was a scientific promise of better profits for farmers, and the nation succumbed to the assurance of an agriculturally advanced nation. However, the drastically negative impacts of the green revolution were noticed years later, when the soil became acidic because of the chemical fertilizers, the crops started failing as the soil lost its fertility. India’s agricultural output started dwindling, and it was at this point sustainable agriculture entered the picture. This form of cultivation focused on natural ways to improve yield, green fertilizers and pesticides, non-genetically modified seeds and environmentally friendly alternatives to chemicals used in agriculture. The nation slowly started improving, both yield and profit wise. The lesson we should take away from this incident is that over dependence on science and over confidence in technology can ultimately defeat the purpose of its creation.
There needs to be a balance between science and nature. Science can help, cure, compliment and refine nature, but at the same time it can destruct, destroy and deny the environment its survival. As the generation most scientifically advanced, we are poised at a great advantage to take the reins of environment protection from our predecessors. It is time to accept the responsibility and challenge our resources and scientific innovation towards protection and preservation of our environment.