Everyone knows how important technology has become in our daily lives in recent years: a smartphone for each member of the family, televisions with internet connections, a computer on the desk, a car to go to work, industrial machinery … Certainly, in the western world, a large part of the population has technological devices that are used on a daily basis, more and more, and often without the user being aware of the possible consequences.
But material wellbeing and incipient human activity have been paid for with something very valuable: the carrying capacity of the Earth.
A little bit of history
The First Industrial Revolution began in the mid-18th century in Great Britain, and spread from there to Western Europe and Anglo-Saxon America. Since then, many things have changed — particularly the societies themselves, and the way energy is consumed.
Until then, energy came mainly from wood, since it was the material used to light fires in homes and workshops. But with the Industrial Revolution everything changed and coal began to be used, serving as the fuel of choice for steam engines. This remained the main energy source until the middle of the last century, when it was relegated to second place due to the appearance of oil and gas on the scene and the ensuing boom.
The success of oil and gas spiraled until the 1970s, when both fuels went into decline as a result of the oil crisis of ’73, caused by the refusal of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries to export their fossil fuels to those states that had shown their support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
Nowadays we find renewable energies emerging and environmental awareness growing. This phenomenon has roots, among other things, in disasters related to spills and radiation.
Commitment to the environment
Many of the technology-infused devices and appliances that we use in our daily lives, both at home and at work, make use of energy which often comes from fossil fuels. Of course, some are hungrier than others. The fossil fuels in question, like coal, oil and natural gas, come from biomass produced over huge spans of time. Their big disadvantage is that they are not renewable energy sources and therefore they eventually run out.
Since the oil spills and radiation disasters that took place in the second half of the 20th century, environmental movements have been gaining ground, standing for commitment to the environment, given the depletion of the planet’s natural resources.
After several years of struggle, policies have been put forward that now urgently need to be incorporated into the agendas of political leaders. Two examples of these are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and, at the national level, Agenda 2030.
A total ecological restructuring would need to rest on two fundamental pillars: a global commitment and new economic paths that are environmentally conscious.
First steps towards green technologies
The road to green technology may not be as long as we think, since political proposals that call for a more sustainable future are already laying the foundations.
Some of the starting points are:
- Renewable energies: wind power, solar, bio-fuels…
- Carbon capture and transformation.
- Techniques to replace non-biodegradable resources.
What is “industrial ecology”?
The central idea of industrial ecology is to construct a sustainable society through research and development into green technologies. The aim is to achieve an ecosystem where waste from industry serves as a raw material for another process, thus reducing the impact that industry has on the environment. It is a circular process, meaning that industries are connected to each other.
Now is the time to continue to do research along these lines and to perfect the technologies that already exist. In order to expand their use, it is rational to create incentives.
These measures will, of course, have an impact on the economy, since it is now based mainly on unsustainable, non-ecological technologies.
At ULMA Advanced Forged Solutions, we have an ethical commitment to protecting the environment. To do this, we always aim to minimize environmental risk, especially in the areas of waste disposal, handling of hazardous materials and prevention of spills and leaks. We scrupulously follow the applicable laws and environmental protection standards.