Technology and Sustainability

Should we rely on Technological innovations to achieve Sustainability?

Sustainability is very complex a subject to understand. If it is taken literally, it feels so simple but is very deep in its meaning. It has varied contexts ranging from macro to micro contexts. It has its roots in every field possible, ranging from fashion designing, product designing, Architecture, Urban Planning etc. each field being so different from the other.

How do we think of technological innovations when we think of sustainability? The way world changed in the past 100 years is because of the technological innovations that took place. How dependent we really are on technology? To be honest, the quality of life became better, our life styles changed after the industrial revolution after which our societies have been continuously changing and evolving and taking a step higher and higher with regards to lifestyle changes. The amount of resources we used up in the past 100 years is enormous and we are aware that we can never reverse the cycle.

So, it is important to think, if we should continue on the same path. We all feel trapped because we know that we are heading towards a natural resources crisis that could bring our lifestyles to a standstill. Inspite of the awareness, we still continue to use the resources ruthlessly without giving a thought of what might happen to our future generations. How would they survive if we were to use up all the resources on earth?

The most important question is, “Can we still rely on the technological innovation to give us solutions on how to live sustainably without having to compromise on our current lifestyles?” Should we still place our faith in innovation? Would it be the right thing to do?

Innovation has helped us with an improved quality of life. That is why questioning innovation is like going against the grain of our world view and the governance structures that rule our lives. There are indeed very good reasons to depend on our innovative ability to change the world but we also can’t deny that last 5 to 10 decades of high innovation have caused some real serious irreparable damage to the earth.

The problems we are facing today are so complex that some argue that we are caught up in an ‘ingenuity gap’, where the world’s problems have become so difficult to solve that we lack the ingenuity required to solve them. Our ecosystems are based on non-linear mutual interdependency and one part cannot be separated from the other while the ‘technosphere’, the innovative engine that has driven the modern economy, whether in terms of machines or structures, is based on a linear, means-to-an-end-logic. The problem is that the solutions provided by technology are ecologically illiterate and are single problem oriented. And the solutions we need have to be ecologically literate and multiple-problem oriented.

So, I will end this article with some food for thought. If we are depending on the technology to achieve sustainability, then how do we achieve it? Are we 100% sure that technological innovations is the key to sustainability? If it is, we need to justify. Otherwise, we will only end up using resources in the name of technology and make the situation even worse. Give it a thought and comment. 

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