Technology has been defined in several ways. At its simplest, it is the knowledge of using tools and techniques to improve working conditions, organizational management, and artistic perspective to improve the efficiency of product, machine, or human effort. Primitive man is known for his clever use of stone to turn it into houses for weapons and shelter. The use of animal skin and tree bark to cover the body was a step towards fabric technology. Knowledge of fire control technology has fundamentally changed the condition of man, who learns to add new products to his menu and get heat in cold climates. The wheel brought us to the current state of global transportation Throwing leg bones into space after a good, hearty space odyssey inspired meal. The spearhead of information technology, led by the Internet, traces its origins to smoke signals and, more recently, to printing presses. We now have industrial, educational, information, medical, visual, micro, nano and consumer technologies to name a few.
Technology is not solely applied by humanity to further its goals. Animals and birds are also excellent at making technological marvels, comparable and sometimes better than us. The braided bird’s nest, signals from dolphins, cracking of coconut shells by monkeys, domestic technology of ants, technology of descending from a sharp slope by elephants, migration of birds to places close to their needs and requirements, waiting for the air to get hot before flying by kites and other heavy birds and the dropping of stone pallets to raise the water level in a narrow-necked pitcher by crows are some to refresh the memory. Look at the sky in the evening. You’ll find ducks flying in an inverted V formation, giving others the advantage of vacuum and streamline movement.
There is a difference in how the primates of the past behaved, how the animals and birds around us use technology and how we use it. There is a big difference. Their efforts have been and always are in improving living conditions compatible with the environment. Our efforts are diverse in many ways. Some are good, some are bad, and some are ugly. More recently, with the onset of the industrial revolution, we have mostly added to the burden of environmental pollution or developed weapons of mass destruction. A technology that previously improved machine efficiency is now focusing its attention on human efficiency. We call it productivity. We pretend to use it as outsourcing. Green technology had no choice but to introduce it and take over the entire state of affairs created by mankind.
Green technologies strive for an appropriate, just and sustainable environment by intertwining all known technologies and human involvement with environmental science to preserve and improve the environment and return it to the quality it was around 300 years ago. Green technology can be termed as an improvement of the existing technology as it helps in managing any kind of pollution in such a way that they turn out to be environmentally and economically friendly.
Technologies that are environmentally friendly are evaluated according to their carbon footprint. Competitive and successful green technology has a low set of greenhouse gas emissions from people, products, processes, events or organizations. There are two ways to achieve the goal. The first, which can be called a green act, is the recycling of waste, reuse through recovery and other alternatives, reducing the consumption of resources and preserving the available natural resources. The second, which creates environmental conditions, is to develop technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. These measures have a proven effect on reducing global warming.
The first category of green technology is to promote and redefine conventional ways of maintaining low carbon footprints. These are recycling and its extension to water and air purification, solid waste treatment, including wastewater treatment.
Recycling defines the environment by preserving it at its best. Used materials that would normally be thrown away as waste are recycled into new products. Composting is an age-old concept of recycling green waste into fertilizer. Recycling plastic waste into new plastic products is most common now. Recycling reduces the consumption of fresh raw materials by using semi-finished products and scraps. It reduces the loss of energy that is needed to convert fresh raw materials into finished products. It reduces air pollution as waste is now recycled instead of incinerated. It reduces water pollution because there is less land accumulation, thus reducing leachate reaching water bodies.
Wastewater is treated through chemical, mechanical and biological processes to make it potable and other purposes. Air is purified both in industry and in human habitation in closed spaces. Industrial air pollutants such as sulfur oxides return sulfuric acid, particles such as fire ash turn into cement and bricks. Solid waste generation from human habitations is divided into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. Biodegradable waste is composted into manure and biofuel. Non-biodegradable waste is further divided into metal, glass, plastic, etc. The first three are used as intermediate raw materials and recycled in the production pipeline to obtain useful products. Hazardous waste materials are properly treated to non-hazardous entities and then most of them are also recycled. Wastewater treatment has acquired state-of-the-art technology. It is treated to get rid of parasites, bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses. Treated solid waste is used as manure, and treated wastewater is either used for irrigation or further treated to make it suitable for domestic use.
Green technology, which creates and maintains a green state, has focused primarily on renewable energy resources. Renewable energy such as solar, wind, tidal, nuclear and geothermal have been identified as having minimal greenhouse gas emissions and have huge potential to replace conventional energy providers such as fossil fuels and petroleum. The latter are non-renewable energy resources that are major pollutants and a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions.
Green products are in a category by themselves, as they have the properties to both reduce greenhouse gases and replace highly polluting non-renewable energy resources. Fuel cells are one example. Eliminates air pollution from cars and replaces hydrocarbon fuel. Plastic cement made from waste plastic bottles is another example. This product takes less energy to make than conventional cement made from iron slag, lime and sand. In addition, this plastic cement has a greater permeability and therefore can breathe better. Rainwater can filter through surfaces prepared by it and thus enrich the water table below.
These days the market is flooded with toxic plastic toys that are highly harmful to delicate and tender little children. They are being replaced by toys made from recycled plastic bottles. The latest innovation in this segment is fabric made from used plastic bottle material. The clothing material for Cricket India members is made from this fabric.
Green technology is also rapidly entering the computer software segment. There is now software that will alert you to power outages while you’re at home or on the other side of the globe.
There was a dumb excuse floating around that going green required too much research and development and the cost of implementation was very high. It may be suitable for some such ventures as geothermal energy harnessing technology. It is also said to take a long time to reach profitability. Here people fail to compare this logic with the technologies that are used and later converted to green technologies. An example of this is the steam engine, which underwent a transition to the diesel engine and now almost replaced by electric motors and in the near future by electromagnetic induction forces and magnetic forces. A time cycle will show that the invention and commissioning of the coal-powered steam engine took a much longer time to mature than the electric engine or future versions. All such transformations are too favorable for profit. The payback time is also quite low.
You can expect miracles in the future with the advent of nanotechnology. Imagine a chip implanted in your brain to replace computers, which are one of the main consumers of electrical energy and generate huge amounts of e-waste. You should start dreaming about refueling your space vehicle with universally available solar energy to replace the high cost, highly polluting and heavy, cryogenic fuel. You may have the pleasure of traveling with identified flying objects to a part of the universe several light years away.
Green technology is moving towards a future that has a future.