After the industrial revolution the science and technology improved the standard of living but destroyed the harmonious relationship between the humans and the natural environment. The impacts of science technology and industrialization on environment fall into two broad catergories.
The direct impacts are preplanned because people are aware of consequences, both positive and negative of any programme which is launched to change or modify the natural environment for economic development. Such changes include land use changes, constructions and excavations, agricultural practices and weather modification programmes. The indirect impacts are not planned and arise from those human activities that are directed to accelerate the pace of economic growth, especially industrial development. Impacts include the release of toxic elements and industrial wastes into the environment systems, and the burning of hydrocarbons. Some of these impacts are listed below.
Deforestation either for cropland or for commercial purposes leads to accelerated rates of soil erosion. This results in gully erosion and loss of soil fertility on the one hand, and an enormous increase in sediment load in the river which causes severe floods on the other hand. These chain effects can be effectively stopped by reforestation of the deforested areas. Similarly, changes in farm practices, which introduce adverse changes in the environment, may be changed to suit the environmental and ecological situations.
The 'cloud seeding' technology in meteorological phenomena in turns modifies the local weather conditions. This technology stimulates clouds and precipitation through crystalization of super cooled drops through the application of solid carbon dioxide and certain compounds of iodine. A few hundred grams of solid carbon dioxide or a few grams of an iodine compound are enough to crystalize a cubic kilometer of a super cooled cloud of water drops.
Environmentalists fear that as technology advances, human influence on our environment will also increase, both in intensity and extent. Our power over our environment will become more dominant. To control our power over our environment, many geographers employ the concept of a Control System whereby the Earth is viewed as a system. In the next lesson, let us learn how the Control System helps us to understand the functional interactions that make Earth a system.
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