Environmental Challenges Due to Scientific & Technological Advances

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  • 0:01 Technology: A Two-Sided Coin
  • 0:30 Pollution and Health Effects
  • 2:31 Climate Change & Ozone…
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
We have invented and use a lot of technology to great effect in our lives. However, each piece of scientific advancement carries a hidden cost, quite often an environmental danger. This lesson explores some of these hidden dangers.

Technology: A Two-Sided Coin

Look around you in the room you're in. It's full of technology: from technology that has built its walls, to the screen you are looking at, to the chair you sit on. All of that was born out of human scientific and technological innovation.

Our technological advancements have almost always been two-sided. They have helped us in one way but hurt us in another. This lesson will go over a few examples of technological advancements that have been a boon to us but a curse to our planet at the same time.

Pollution and Health Effects

Just about every supermarket in America uses plastic bags. We use plastic bags to carry and store food. We use them to wrap clothing. We even use them to pick up dog poop.

But the hidden cost behind this, in some ways revolutionary, technological advancement is a whole lot of pollution. Pollution is the act or process of rendering something unclean or unsuitable for use or contact by mixing it with an undesirable contaminant.

You see it all around you. Sometimes it's plastic bags being blown by the wind on your street. Other times, it's plastic bags stuck in tree branches or in a local water source. Plastic bags kill countless animals who are strangled by them or eat them, and recent evidence suggests this plastic, and the toxins it helps collect, enters the food chain and eventually, your body. Of course, this negatively affects your health, although we are only beginning to understand how this may be so.

Other forms of pollution are far more clear-cut in their negative health effects. For instance, we have learned how to find and use oil for gasoline, shampoos, golf balls, cameras, bandages, nail polish, hearing aids, and much more!

Oil is an energy currency that has allowed us to make huge technological advances at a frantic pace. But the flipside is not only the obvious pollution it causes but also the negative health effects it imparts upon us. For instance, people who live near oil refineries are more likely to suffer from respiratory health problems, skin disorders, neurological disorders, and even cancer compared to people who live farther away from petroleum refineries.

Why? Again, it's because of pollution. Petroleum refineries pollute the surrounding air and water with all sorts of harmful chemicals, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, mercury, and many others.

Climate Change & Ozone Depletion

On the topic of energy production, oil, coal, natural gas, and many other energy sectors pollute the environment in many ways. We know for a fact that this is, at the very minimum, a contributory factor to climate change, 'an inconsistent, yet progressively gradual increase in the temperature of the world's atmosphere and oceans, and all of its related consequences, such as rising sea levels, crop failures, and health hazards'.

What that definition implies is that the temperature may rise one year and fall another, and so it doesn't rise consistently year after year. It is during the temperature falls that climate change deniers claim: how could there be global warming if it's this cold and snowing outside? The problem is that while some years may be colder than prior years, the overall trend is like a bullish stock market chart. It keeps rising in the grand scheme of things, despite a few dips here and there.

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