Climate change is the long-term change in expected weather patterns that affects specific regions and the Earth as a whole. Technology and ethics are affected by climate change, and because of the impact climate change has on issues such as environment and economics, technology and ethics have to be modified and changed to improve the conditions of Earth and the affects of climate change. Climate change causes problems in different regions of the world that may be similar, but considering the different societies and governments in those areas the changes that need to be made, vary.
Technology specifically focuses on development and adaptation to reduce, stop, or reverse greenhouse gas emissions due to that an environmental insight is needed to understand the role technology plays. Greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change and and emissions affect the environment because of the excessive levels. The gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide which are all caused by varying things and have varying affects, but it is overall negative to Earth and human life.
According to the EPA, for Florida specifically, methane emissions have doubled, carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 30 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions have risen by about 15 person, and the increases have all been since the pre-industrial period. At this point, carbon dioxide levels have increased by about 30 percent to 150 percent. Overall for the United States, emissions levels are rising every year even with occasional declines in the levels. According to epi.com, the eia predicts that there will be a 1.
8% rise in carbon emissions compared to the total 5143 metric tons emitted in 2017 (Pipoli).
Since there are greenhouse gasses being emitted, it is necessary to know what effect they have and why it is necessary for technology to be adapted to lessen said emissions. Temperature is affected by climate change, in Ocala the temperature has increased; between the years 1892 and 1921 the temperature was about 67 degrees Fahrenheit and later between 1966 and 1995 the temperature was above 69 degrees Fahrenheit (Climate Change and Florida). Though the difference does not seem very visible, it affects weather patterns and increases the chances for hurricanes and storms to appear and hit Florida.
Regarding global climate change affects, according to the European Environment Agency the average temperature in Europe has increased 1.3 degrees Celsius in the last decade (2002-2011) from the pre-industrial period. The average land temperature has increased for Europe and the predicted increase of temperature in 2021-2050 is between a 1.0 degree Celsius increase and a 2.5 degrees Celsius increase. Another prediction for Europe’s temperature is between 2071-2100 with in increase between 2.5 degrees Celsius and 4.0 degrees Celsius (EEA).
With the increasing threat that climate change has on the earth and human life, technological innovation is necessary to find ways to reduce the greenhouse gasses. The different technologies are developed and in central Florida, university of central Florida researchers have invented a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The way they invented is to boost energy production, that does not sound like an invention but their work is focused on high temperature heat exchangers. The high energy heat exchangers would recover heat energy that’s emitted as exhaust gas to prevent the waste and emissions being released into the air (“New Technology Enables Power Plants to Reduce, Safely Recycle Greenhouse-Gas Emissions”). The invention replaces the traditional fossil fuel method so that the cycle is closed and there are no emissions. This would be a working solution reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the technology would have to be funded to make sure that the technology is working as it should, and open or distributed to power plants looking to reduce emissions. Though, companies and other plants might be reluctant to change the system that they were already using, so it could be a hard to replace the majority of traditional fossil fuel technologies. The key to getting the invention to replacement the current method would be communicating to companies or power plants that the invention has more benefits (benefits would be an improved environment and less emissions, which creating a longer time period for human existence and earths survival. Other carbon capturing technologies would be viable solutions to help solve the greenhouse gas emissions, but mainly attack the carbon dioxide section of emissions.
In Europe, road transport makes up about one-fifth of the European Union’s total emissions of carbon dioxide. Europe plans to reduce emission levels to where it was before 1990, which would be about a 80 to 95 percent cut of emissions, by 2050 (“Road Transport: Reducing CO2 Emissions from Vehicles”). The European Union (EU) is working on low-carbon technologies and innovations to try to achieve their goal. The European Union supports renewable energy as part of their emission cutting agenda, as well as having EU countries reduce their building energy usage and find more energy efficient house hold items. A major solution the European Union has in mind is to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, they creating legislatures to manage the development of the technologies. For example, the EU had a legislation that requires greenhouse gas emissions for vehicles to be cut at least 10 percent by 2020, which motivates people to meet that legislation and become an technological innovator.
Along with technology, ethics plays an important role in climate change; climate change causes people and society as a whole to readjust morals and ethical decisions made that may contribute to climate change. Electronic waste, also called e-waste, is a very clear example of ethical decisions that contribute to climate change. The different chemicals released from technology and electronics that are irresponsibly and recklessly disposed causing the emission and release of various chemicals, toxic to human health, the environment, and contributing to pollution and climate change. E-waste is almost one hundred percent recyclable, though only 15-20 percent is being recycled at the moment. E-waste is harmful to not only the environment, but to human health because of the air pollution it causes if it is not disposed of correctly.
Electronics, like computers, contain various chemicals (such as zinc, nickel, lead, barium, and chromium) which are all toxic, so if electronics are not disposed of properly the chemicals will be emitted into the air, or seep into the earth. The chemicals are not biodegradable and that means that when they enter the soil they are going to be there for a long time, so any crops or plants grown in that area will be harmed by the chemicals. The longer the chemicals stay in the soil, the greater chance for human exposure and harm done by them. Specifically for the affects on humans and society, the chemicals once they are released into the environment can cause damage to different parts of a person, like their blood, kidneys, and their central and peripheral nervous systems (“5 Facts About The Environmental Effects of E-Waste”).
Though, not all of e-waste is caused by normal citizens, it is mainly due to large companies or electronic firms who dispose of the waste irresponsibly and improperly. The most obvious example of this would be Guiyu, China, a place that is referred to as “An E-Waste Nightmare” by Greenpeace East Asia. Guiyu is the largest site for e-waste dumping and even gets shipments of toxic and hazardous e-waste from other Asian countries, and it has taken a large toll on the residents and environment. 165 Guiyu children were tested in an investigation made after the condition of Guiyu citizens was learned about. “Eighty two percent of the kids had blood/lead levels of over 100, which is considered unsafe by international health experts” (“Guiyu: An E-Waste Nightmare”). In fact, the average levels for the group was around 149. It is not any better that the chemicals can cause serious damage to a child’s development and nervous system, and their IQ. “A separate report… in November 2003 found a high incidence of skin damage, headaches, vertigo, nausea, chronic gastritis, and gastric and duodenal ulcers, especially among migrants who recycle circuit boards and plastic” (“Guiyu: An E-Waste Nightmare”).
With all the damage done to people and society because of e-waste and the irresponsible disposal, obviously there must be action taken to prevent further harm. Education on e-waste and how actions have consequences (that contribute to climate change) would give people a better understanding of the harm they are doing by disposing of their e-waste normally, and they would get educated on what they need to do to safely dispose of the waste.
In the end, it is clear that climate change is affecting society and human life, whether it is taking ethical decisions into consideration and realizing that the way someone lives their life could be contributing to climate change, or that climate change boosts technological innovation so that the problems caused by climate change with be reduced or solved. As for technology, in a local sense the solution to the threatening environmental problems is to focus on carbon dioxide capturing technologies, like the invention that changes the traditional fossil fuel methods into a method that has zero emissions. For Europe, the European Union’s legislations are motivation to develop technology to meet goals that are set as legislation, and most likely would have a positive affect if other countries, like the United States, could do the same. Though, in an ethical sense there is an overall need for education on how decisions and actions, like disposing of electronic waste improperly, contributes to climate change and affects both the environment and human health.
To further prove the need for education and technological development to reduce the affects of climate change, statistics on ethics and the ethical decisions that are the most made would be helpful. The statistics would have to come from a government related website (or something related to the United Nations or European Union), it would provide a better visual for the amount of people that disregard obvious ways to reduce the affects of climate change, like recycling. A study or investigation on whether the actual blame is unethical companies or unethical citizens would be beneficial as well (from possibly the United Nations) would give more focus on who the blame should go to. It is likely that the main cause of unethical decisions that lead to climate change is large companies or firms, but without a study or investigation there would be a lot of argument and disregard for the idea. If there was a study or investigation it could provide useful and generate ideas to have big companies take responsibility for their actions and take steps to more ethical actions in the future.