Technology and the environment.. Friends or foes?!

Technology and the environment.. Friends or foes?!

The rapid changes we are witnessing today in the fields of technology, innovation, and knowledge represent a significant transformation on the human level. Civilization, as far as historians can tell, has never experienced this type of cognitive and technological progress before. Some may struggle to comprehend the magnitude of this advancement, perhaps because they have lived within the confines of their own era since childhood. Imagine, for instance, if electricity and its applications had never been discovered. How would our lives be without air conditioners, for example? This applies to many contemporary applications, particularly in the fields of communications and transportation, which sequentially emerged after the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom.

In this context, the French philosopher and sociologist Auguste Comte’s proposal comes to mind, in which he divided the stages of human development into three stages, culminating in the industrial stage. However, this stage has evolved in a complex manner, with the intertwining of sciences being prevalent in its applications, aiming primarily at ensuring human welfare. Let us consider, for example, the so-called revolution of communications and information, which has made contemporary humans closely intertwined with technology, perceiving the universe through instantaneous connectivity. This era has a different charm and a unique pattern, as pointed out by my dear professor, Dr. Mohammed Al-Sandouq, in his paper titled “Is Technology a New Way of Thinking?” In which he proposed adding another stage to Comte’s stages, namely the stage of technology. Despite being built upon the industrial stage, technology exhibits more complexity in its features and interactions, encompassing multiple and intertwined aspects of human life.

Some may disagree with the aforementioned proposal philosophically, yet all may largely agree that our current era is more advanced and complex than any previous human eras, according to our limited knowledge. Therefore, the level of scientific prosperity we are witnessing is exceptional in every sense of the word. We see the emergence of many exceptional applications, such as the ChatGPT chat program and, recently, the smart Apple glasses. Just as what is happening is unprecedented and astonishing, so too are its challenges more severe and more complex. Perhaps the most dangerous of these challenges is the climate crisis, which has directly worsened with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

Away from claims advocating for halting technological growth on the pretext that it is the main cause of the climate crisis, we currently need to address the problem rather than lament its remnants. The unprecedented technological prosperity achieved by humanity is an unprecedented advancement that must be preserved as a cultural asset, and its moderation is essential to serve current and future generations. One of the important solutions to addressing the climate crisis may be through harnessing the advanced technology itself to solve this dilemma. This is what we see today under what is called “Technology-based solutions” as one of the fundamental tools to achieve carbon neutrality, which includes techniques such as carbon capture and storage. There are also bolder scientific solutions that may be applicable in the near future. For example, the US National Academies of Sciences recommended allocating up to $200 million over the next five years to explore how to deploy what is known as solar geoengineering or “climate engineering,” which aims to artificially cool the Earth by using cloud seeding or spraying water into Arctic clouds to deflect sunlight from them to preserve ice. Undoubtedly, this approach to addressing environmental challenges requires adopting more stringent international policies, in addition to creating attractive and stimulating economic opportunities for scientific research, in order to open up more opportunities for such pioneering applications.

Note: This article has been automatically translated.

Source: Alwatan News

Dr. Abdulla Alabbasi, Director of the Energy and Environment Program

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