Technology has been defined in several ways. The simplest is the knowledge of using tools and techniques to improve the working condition, organizational management and artistic perspective in order to improve the efficiency of product, machine or human efforts. The primitive man is known for intelligent use of stone to convert it into weapon and shelter houses. The use of animal skin and bark of trees for covering body was a step towards fabric technology. The knowledge of technology to control the fire radically changed the status of man learning to add new items in his food menu and getting warmth in a cold climate. The wheel has brought us to the present state of global conveyance Flinging of leg bones into the space after a good and hefty meal inspired space odyssey. Information technology spear headed by internet has its origin in smoke signals and more recently to printing presses. Now we have industrial, educational, information, medical, visual, micro, nano, and domestic technology to name a few.
Technology is not singularly applied by human kind to give impetus to his objectives. The animals and birds have also excelled in carving out technological wonders comparable and sometimes better than us. The nest of the weaving birds, signals from dolphins, breaking of coconut shells by monkeys, domestic technology of ants, technology of descent from an acute slope by elephants, migration of birds to places akin to their need and requirements, waiting for air to become hot before taking to a flight by kites and other heavy size birds and dropping of stone pallets to raise the water level in a narrow necked pitcher by crows are some to refresh the memory. Look towards the sky in the evening. You shall find ducks flying in inverted V formation, giving others the advantage of vacuum and stream line motion.
There is a difference in how the primates of yester years behaved, how animals and birds around us make use of the technology and how we are using it. The difference is great. Their efforts were and are always in improving their living condition compatible to the environment. Our efforts are diversified in many ways. Some are good, some are bad and some are ugly. Lately, with the onset of industrial revolution, we have mostly added to pollution load of the environment or developed weapons of mass destruction. Technology which used to improve machine efficiency has focused its attention to human efficiency. We call it productivity. We pretend to exploit it as outsourcing. Green technology had no option but to introduce it and take charge of the entire state of affairs created by the human kind.
Green technology targets for an appropriate, equitable and sustainable environment by interlacing all known technologies and human involvement with environmental science to conserve and upgrade the environment and bringing it back to the quality available some 300 years back. Green technology could be termed as a refinement in the available technology in as much as, it helps in managing pollution of all kinds in such a way that these turn out to be ecological and economically friendly.
Technologies that are green are rated by their carbon footprints. A competitive and successful green technology has a low set of greenhouse gas emissions from persons, product, process, event or organization. There are two ways to achieve the objective. The first which may be termed as green acts, is to recycle the waste, reuse through reconditioning and other alternatives, reduce resource consumption and to conserve available natural resources. The second which is creating a green conditions, is to evolve technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions thus reducing carbon footprint. These measures have proven effect on global warming reduction.
The first category of green technology is to encourage and redefine the conventional ways of keeping carbon footprints at a low level. These are recycling and its extension to water and air purification, solid waste treatment including sewage treatment.
Recycling defines environment by conservation at its best. Used materials generally thrown as waste is recycled into new products. Composting is an age old concept of recycling green waste into manure. Recycling plastic waste into new plastic products is most prevalent now. Recycling reduces fresh raw material consumption by utilizing middling and scraps. It reduces wastage of energy that is required to convert fresh raw material into end products It reduces air pollution as waste is now recycled instead of incineration. It reduces water pollution as there is less land filling thus reducing leachate reaching water bodies.
Waste water is purified by chemical, mechanical and biological processes to convert it into drinking and other usage. Air is purified both in industries as well as places of human habitation in closed spaces. Industrial air pollutant such as Sulfur oxides gives back Sulfuric acid, particulates such as fire ash is converted into cement and bricks. Solid waste generation from human habitat is segregated into bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable waste. Bio-degradable waste is composted into manure and bio-fuel. Non-bio-degradable waste is further separated into metal, glass, plastic etc. The first three are used as intermediate raw material and recycled into the production pipeline to get useful products. Hazardous waste materials are suitably treated to non-hazardous entity and then most of these are also recycled. Sewage treatment has acquired a state of the art technology. It is treated to make it free from parasites, bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses. Treated solid waste is used as manure and the treated waste water is either used for irrigation or further treated to make it fit for domestic use.
Green technology that creates and sustains green condition has focused its attention primarily on renewable energy resources. Renewable energy such as solar, wind, tidal, nuclear and geothermal have been identified as having minimum greenhouse gas emission and has tremendous potential to replace the conventional energy providers such as fossil fuel and petroleum. The latter are non renewable energy resources that are major pollutants and major reasons for greenhouse gas emissions.
Green products are a category in itself as it has both the properties of reducing greenhouse gases and replacing highly polluting non-renewable energy resources. Fuel cells are one example. It eliminates air pollution from automobiles and it replaces hydrocarbon fuel. Plastic cement manufactured from waste plastic bottles is another example. This product takes less energy for its preparation than the conventional cement manufactured from iron slag, lime and sand. Moreover, this plastic cement has more permeability and hence can breathe better. Rain water can filter through surfaces prepared from it and hence enrich the water table beneath.
These days, market is getting flooded with toxic plastic toys which are highly injurious to the delicate and tender toddlers. These are being replaced by toys made from recycled plastic bottles. The latest innovation in this segment is fabric made from used plastic bottles material. Dress material for Cricket India members are made from this fabric.
Green technology is catching fast the computer software segment too. Now there is software which shall alarm you from wastage of electricity while you are in your home or at the other side of the globe.
There has been a lame excuse floating around that shifting to green technology requires too much research and development and the cost of implementation is very high. It may be appropriate for some such endeavors such as technology for geothermal energy usage. It is also argued that it takes lot of time to break even. Here, people fail to compare such logic with technologies that are in use and later revised to green technology. An instance in case is the steam engine which saw transition to diesel engine and now almost replaced by electric engines and in near future with electromagnetic induction forces and magnetic forces. A time cycle would show that invention and commissioning of coal driven steam engine took a far longer maturing time than electric engine or the future versions. All such transformations are far too profit friendly. Break-even time has also been quite low.
You may expect wonders in the future with the advent of nano technology. Imagine a chip grafted in your brain to replace computers which are one of the major consumers of electric energy and are generating huge electronic waste. You should start dreaming of recharging your space vehicle with universally available solar energy replacing high cost, highly pollutant and heavy weight, cryogenic fuel. You may have the pleasure of travelling in identified flying objects to several light year distant part of the universe.
Green technology is marching towards a future that has a future.