Technology in the 20th Century reached great milestones in providing better health, improved standard of living, elimination of disease but on the contrary has also caused irreversible catastrophic damage to the environment due to resource extraction, pollution of air, water, soil etc. Controversial demographer Paul Ehrlich distilled population bomb of any location in a simple equation: Impact(I) = Population (P) x Affluence (A) x Technology (T) in his apocalyptic 1968 book.(Visser 2014) In response to Ehrlich, twenty years later Ray Anderson, the sustainability pioneer argued about the ‘T’ factor of this equation being pushed to the denominator, thereby exploring the possibilities of sustainable technology to reduce and rebuild the impact on the environment. There is considerable scepticism in the undertaking of such technological revolutions because such a dramatic and radical redesign of our technological systems could cause major social changes. But positively, quite a number of these sustainable technologies are well underway and are expected to achieve changes such as recycling, waste minimization, substitution of materials, changing production processes, pollution control and efficient usage of resources. This blog focusses on the current trends and throws light on the importance of sharing, implementing and bringing to scale of the existing sustainable technologies.
The top most technologies of the World Economic Forum have a clear environmental focus, such as energy efficient water purification, enhanced nutrition to drive health at molecular level, carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion, photovoltaics and organic electronics. The estimated market value of clean energy technologies such as wind, solar and biofuels were estimated at $248 Billion in 2913and expected to grow to $398 Billion in 2023.(Edge 2016) The largest market being biofuels with a whopping $98 Billion, followed by solar power at $91 Billion followed by wind energy invested at $58 Billion. There has been a drastic growth in patents related to the CCMTs (Climate change mitigation technologies) such as solar thermal, solar photovoltaics and wind energy. World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO
Developing countries are at the threshold of development and are helped by technological innovations to benefit major percentage of the population. Countries such as India, China, Korea and Singapore follow their individual technological approaches. Despite the big leap in technological advancement, majority of population in countries like Africa, Latin America, the benefits of technology still remain a dream. The increasing environmental degradation and the poor living conditions for the vast majority of the world population call for a more in-depth understanding of the role of technology and its relationship with society, especially to a sustainable society. (Vergragt 2006)