For years, green activists were “anti-technology”, claiming that technological advances were largely responsible for the polluted state of Mother Earth. This was a fair claim, as yesterday’s technologies only looked at the bottom line, and not the resulting mess. In today’s reality, the words “green” and “technology” no longer constitute an oxymoron, as technologists have turned their attention to cleaning up the mess previous generations have made.
In some cases, technology’s contribution to greening the earth has been largely accidental. Most of us use our automobiles for only a few things; grocery shopping, going to work, going to visit friends, comparison shopping, and visiting places of amusement.
Internet shopping has replaced some of these errands, allowing us to ditch our cars and shop from the comfort of our easy chair. The technology introduced by Amazon.com was revolutionary in its time; recommendations of books based on what someone had already read meant that a trip to the bookstore was no longer needed. And Google’s new book excerpt application allows a book buyer to preview a book before purchasing.
Grocers such as Safeway now have comprehensive shopping sites; although trucks still have to deliver the items once they are purchased online, this means one vehicle is on the road instead of ten or more individual shoppers’ vehicles.
Comparison shopping used to mean running all over town, talking to sales reps and handling your potentially new camera, TV, washing machine, or gadget. Now, companies such as WisdomTap allow stores to integrate user generated product reviews from blogs, social networking sites, and expert sites directly until their Internet stores.
The Internet is not the only technical advance that is helping rather than hurting the earth. Today’s scientists are busy creating more efficient power supplies based on switched mode power design principles, more energy efficient manufacturing processes, more durable materials that don’t originate from fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. Although I have complained about its funding in the Obama plan, even dirty sources such as coal have scientists dedicated to making them more efficient.
I am very excited to live in the age of the Green Technology Revolution – and I can hardly wait to see what comes next!