Technoscience Essay

The world is changing rapidly. A single technological development can lead to an
infinite number of consequential developments, each of which having varying
impacts on humanity. These impacts, or indicators, display the results of
technological development. Climactic, economic, social, and energy related
indicators are important in showing humanity’s use of technoscience, and
demonstrate that certain political and economic changes are needed so that
technoscientists can use their knowledge to benefit the great majority of
humanity. Climactic indicators are excellent examples of humanity’s misuse of
technoscience. One such indicator is global temperature. It displays the results
of the burning of fossil fuels and the release of nitrous oxides into the
atmosphere. Production of coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power each expanded
by 1 percent in 1995 (Brown, 16). Globally, the ten warmest years out of the
last 130 have all occurred in the eighties and nineties (Brown, 15). These
figures demonstrate that humanity is not effectively controlling and limiting
its use of fossil fuels. As a result, acid rain falls upon the earth destroying
what is left of the planet’s forests and, an estimated 37 percent of the fish
species that inhabit thelakes and streams of North America are either in
jeopardy or extinct. A second indicator that displays humanity’s misuse of
technoscience is the global economy. Global economic statistics show the results
of the applications of technoscience. In 1995, the global economy grew by an
estimated 3.7 percent the largest gain since the 4.6 percent growth in 1980
(Brown, 74). The use of technoscientific developments in various fields raised
the global output of goods and services. Although this was an impressive
expansion promoting employment and development, it also increased the
unsustainable demands on the earth’s natural systems and resources, such as the
planet’s forests. Applications of technoscience have established the need for
wood. The forests that once blanketed more than 40 percent of the earth’s land
surface now cover only 27 percent of it (Brown, 19). As a result, soil erodes,
and the capacity of soils and vegetation to absorb and store water is reduced.

Humanity’s misuse of technoscience can also be displayed with social indicators.

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Eighty-seven million people were added to the population in 1995 (Sachs, 88).

The overwhelming majority were added to countries that were already struggling
with the results of technoscience: depletion of forestry, erosion of soil, and
reduction of aquifers. This added population only increased these countries’
problems. Population growth is slowing in some country’s, but for the wrong
reasons. In Russia, the combination of economic deterioration and environmental
pollution has raised death rates, while a loss of hope in the future has lowered
birth rates (Brown, 19). In Zimbabwe, births still exceed deaths, but by much
less than a few years ago because AIDS related deaths are increasing. Beneficial
applications of technoscience could be used in the above cases to improve social
situation by introducing greater population control methods and by helping to
control the AIDS epidemic. Energy related indicators shoe the positive effects
of technoscientific application. While the production of coal, oil, natural gas
and nuclear power each expanded by 1 percent in 1995, wind electric generation
expanded by 33 percent and sales of solar cells climbed 17 percent (Brown,
5658). The harnessing of wind and solar energy does not create the
environmentally harmful byproducts associated with their fossil fuel and nuclear
counterparts. Humanity’s use of renewable energy sources can only decrease
environmental problems. Charles E. Lindblom’s procedure of public policy
integration is an effective method by which technoscientists can be assured that
their developments will be thoroughly explored so that humanity will not be hurt
by their work. However, most corporations give strong incentives (bonuses, stock
options) to encourage executives to diligently pursue corporate profitability
(Woodhouse, 173). This results in a rapid, untested decision-making process that
yields swift innovation of products and production techniques that offer short
term buyer effectiveness, profits for the seller and potentially long term
negative consequences to a portion of humanity, the environment or the world.

Political procedures concerning technological developments must be gradual and
deliberate so that the development’s benefits can greatly outweigh the
disadvantages. Conflicting leaders should explore developments so that each can
consider the other’s views. The initial policy should be revised in small,
reversible steps in response to feedback about errors, interpretations, and
changing perceptions of needs and opportunities (Morone, 168). The net result
will be a general benefit to humanity. From an economic standpoint,
technoscientist’s work might yield a greater humanitarian benefit with the
increase in common people’s role in the technological decision making process.

Unfortunately, technological developments, no matter how beneficial to society
they might be proven to be, cannot be put into action without governmental and
corporate acceptance, or funds. However, those that are chosen to decide whether
it is necessary to invest in such developments might not be true representations
of society. Some in this hierarchy could be more interested in profit than
global well being. This hypothesis could consequentially have an affect on
technoscientists psychologically. Those looking to better the world might become
cautious and skeptical in releasing and promoting their views and ideas. There
is also the possibility that the temptation of money would override the
fundamental principal technoscientists have of improving the world. Society
should have a greater role at the decision making step. Those who might be
directly affected by technological developments might not be so quick to accept
or decline a development for economic reasons. Technoscientists could then put
greater focus on improving the lives of those who are affected by their
developments. In order for the world to benefit from technoscience, humanity
must learn to use it correctly and with foresight. Current climactic, global
economic, social, and energy related indicators show that the earth is
deteriorating from humanity’s overall misuse of technoscience. Changes must be
made in political and economic situations related to technoscientific
development. If changes are not made, the decline in global quality of life will
proceed as rapidly as technological development now advances.

1. Brown, Lester R., Vital Signs, c.1996, Worldwatch Institute. 2. Sachs,
Aaron, “Population Slightly Down”, Vital SigInstitute. 3. Morone,
Joseph G., “Why the Demise of Nuclear Energy?,” c.1989,Yale
University. 4. Woodhouse, Edward J., “Decision Theory and the Governance of
Technology”, 1987ns, c.1996, Worldwatch


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