Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Author: Ravinder Bhardwaj
Before the industrial revolution in the 18th century, when machines were introduced for faster mass-production of goods, things were produced by hands. With the advancement in science, new technologies were developed, for example, steam engines and electric generators which catapulted the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanised factory system. Simultaneously, backstage, the consumption of fossil fuel rose several magnitudes. For example, to operate steam engines water was boiled by burning coal emitting. Burning of coal emits greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide warming the climate and other damaging substances, including sulphur dioxide—a major cause of acid rain—and mercury. Likewise, internal combustion engines were powered by fossil fuels like natural gas or petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil which again emitted air polluting gases and particulate matters. At that time, it did not seem like a big problem because emitted greenhouse gases especially CO2 were absorbed by flora and oceans like a sponge. However, the exponential rise in the atmospheric CO2 level since 1800 has pushed the atmosphere towards saturation. According to NOAA's 2020 Annual Climate Report the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) has been more than twice that rate. As a result, the world is now 1.5 °C warmer above pre-industrial levels, and along with many other contributing causes like deforestation - effects of climate change is very real.
One more example, of now inefficient and unsustainable, is the Sewage System. Historically, everybody was responsible for their sewage and water supply. That is why civilisations or mass human-settlements were built near to a natural body of water such as a river where water for drinking was collected from deep water-wells or sometimes from the same river, and all kinds of wastes were dumped in the river. These activities were convenient but not hygienic and people were attracting and dying of infectious diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Later, a municipal sanitation program was introduced to build infrastructure suitable for providing a separate channel for clean drinking water supply and sewage movement. For a better and healthier life, the movement wastes has long been done through a complex network of pipes underground. The sewage system which once served the purpose quite successfully is now complex, old, and expensive to maintain and repair.
I think these couple of examples are enough to understand what I mean to say is that old technologies are inefficient and damaging the health of the earth and are also unsustainable. The current science and technology are growing by leaps and bounds therefore new technologies are required fast to replace old ones. Technologies required do not only need to be innovative but must be sustainable, impart no negative impact on the climate, produce zero greenhouse gases emission, should be cheap, easily can be adapted or miniaturised for domestic installation (wherever possible), and made up of 100 % renewable or recyclable materials. To explain this with a simple example:
Smart toilets: A technologically highly advanced toilet system is being developed by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation that does not need a sewage system. The toilet would be able to burn poop (faeces) that would destroy germs and bad order and convert them into small blocks or cakes of odourless material collected in a tray that can be used in the garden as compost. The tray can be detached (just like fruits’ pulp collected in a juicer can be easily detached), contents can be removed washed and installed again. The toilet would be able to filter and deodorise water and make it germ-free to be recirculated in the toilet system for further flushes or can be used to water garden plants etc.- except for drinking and cooking purposes. The toilet would run on solar electrical energy or other forms of renewable energy and would be compact enough to be installed, like a washing machine, in the washroom facilities.
Just like the example of the toilet above, every single new technology should be completely sustainable, cheap, easy to transport, easy to maintain and repair, can be adapted for domestic use (wherever possible), produce no greenhouse gases, easy to be replaced with a new unit, made up of either 100% renewable or recyclable materials.
Readers are most welcome to provide their constructive comments.