The advent of technology and industrialization has brought about tremendous changes in the lives of the people around the world. Innovations in science enabled humans to comprehend the various phenomena that occur in their natural environment. It cannot be denied that technology in all its forms has made our lives comfortable and our work easier, efficient and timely. However, the drastic changes in our environment that are now far-reaching and well-studied are very alarming. Take for example global warming, which is one of the major problem that people around the world need to mitigate the soonest possible time, is actually an offshoot of technological advances. With the growing concern for the gradually depletion of natural resources, as well as the fast-paced destruction of the earth, people are now debating over the negative impacts of technology to both human lives and the natural environment. This debate has resulted into the so called technological optimists and technological pessimists divide.
According to Chasek, Downie, Brow (2006), technological optimism refers to people’s view that technology can harness our human capacities and also advance our development to a never-ending point. Technological optimism maintain that technology contributes a lot in the swift development of all aspects of human lives – social, economic, political, biological and even environmental aspects. Optimists assumed that technology will never cease to discover new innovations to cater to the needs of the times.
Elliott (2004) on the other hand, presented the view of technological pessimists with reference to the negative impacts of science and technology to our natural environment. The advent of climate change has strengthened the point of debate in favor to the pessimists, claiming that climate change has been the greatest threat of technology to human lives. Technological pessimists assume that there has always been a limit to growth and development. Technological pessimists argue that technology has been the major cause of global problems such as pollution and depletion of natural resource because of technology’s ability to harness people’s capacity to go beyond what they need.
Both optimists and pessimists have something to say on the issue of technological advancement. Both have made justifications to prove that they are right. Clapp and Dauvergne (2005) provided several point on which to base the assumptions of the two technological perspectives. On the part of the optimists, environmental problems can be solved by inventing the latest technology that could solve the present global environmental crisis. Take for example the enhancement of nuclear power as source of energy. It can provide people with the energy they need for generations and it can help mitigate the increasing pollution in the atmosphere. Another example that could justify the views of the optimists according to Clapp and Dauvergne (2005) is the advent of the World Wide Web or the internet. It made people’s lives easier and sharing of information has become too efficient and easy to access.
The pessimists on the other hand justify their views with reference to the negative impacts that technology has caused the environment. The degradation of our natural resources has been greatly blamed on the massive industrialization brought about by technology. Another classic example is the transfer of agricultural technology to other countries, but proved to be futile because those technologies were not applicable to the situation of other countries. Clapp and Dauvergne (2005) added that technological pessimists maintained that development has a limit so as to preserve what has been left on the face of the planet earth.
Chasek, P.S., Downie, D. and Brow, J. W. (2006). Global environmental politics. Boulder: Westview Press.
Clapp, J. and Dauvergne, P. (2005). Paths to a green world: The political economy of the global environment. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Elliott, L. (2004). The global politics of the environment. New York: NYU Press.