For years, environmentalists have bemoaned technology and progress as the source of our environmental woes. As far back as Henry David Thoreau people have been arguing against the growth of technology. But as the environment continues to be an increasing concern, some environmentalists are turning toward technology as the answer to our environmental problems. Here are a few reasons why.

For one thing, tech devices have made us need fewer gadgets— for example one device like a smart phone or tablet, can eliminate the need for a GPS, music player, camera, video camera, and game player. Fewer gadgets means fewer outdated items filling up the landfills later. It also reduces the carbon footprint by having less manufacturing and less transportation. Along the same lines, e-readers have cut down on the production of printed newspapers, magazines and letters saving literally tons of unnecessary paper and greatly reducing fuel costs in delivering these items.

Scientists use technology to create recycled products out of old plastic bottles, cans and newspapers. Technology can create more energy efficient cars, saving on fuel use, cutting noise pollution and pollution. Technology can make low-flush toilets, energy-efficient dishwashers, refrigerators and other household items.

Even farming and land use have been benefitting from advances in technology. Creating synthetic fabrics such as polyester causes consumers to rely less on cotton, which requires a significant amount of land to grow. Freeing up more land is always considered better for the environment, and some parts of the country are focusing on “re-wilding” nature. Environments are arguing that if we use land more intensively – keep people and technology in the cities and allow them to become densely populated, they can keep the wilds wild. This idea is one that has caught on well.

Another use of technology is to measure how much energy we’re using.  Through energy meters consumers can learn exactly how much energy they use, how best to budget for times of high usage and find ways to save energy – for example, not heating an office building until the work day begins or keeping the heat off until the family comes home for the evening.

Some environmentalists argue in favor of nuclear power, saying that it’s cleaner, doesn’t contribute to global warming and is more environmentally friendly than the use of coal. Other technological solutions to power include solar panels on houses, which provide a safe and environmentally friendly source of power and installing windmills to harness the power of wind.

Although technology and industry may have begun as one of the causes of harm on the environment, technology has come a long way. With new advances, new technology can help to recycle, monitor fuel efficiency, find new uses for old items and find ways to cut down on pollution. With so many ways technology can improve our world, we can now embrace it as an effective means to better our environment.

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