Ecology studies the natural equilibrium that allows organisms to survive in a particular environment. Over the course of human history, many changes that have been regarded as technological achievements that have served to advance the species as a whole have also posed challenges to the equilibrium that must remain stable in the natural world in order to protect the environment. Man-made technologies, in many ways, have proven to be the single biggest threat to ecological balance and human ecology.
Ironically, although technology has wrought a great deal of environmental damage over the last several centuries, many scientists and environmentalists now look to emerging technologies and scientific advances as potentially helpful tools in the process of restoring ecological balance to the environment. Although the human progress and development that drives modern society will likely never be slowed or halted, new technologies have been developed that can support what is known as sustainable development . Sustainable development is a process that reconciles industrial and commercial development with environmentally-friendly practices.
In addition to sustainable development, another way that technology can impact the ecological balance is through processes that scientists have termed bioremediation. Bioremediation is a process that attempts to correct and, if possible, reverse environmental and/or ecological damage that has been inflicted in the past. A number of new, emerging, and proposed technological applications hold great promise for bioremediation, including nanotechnology, biotechnology , alternative energy research, and improved transportation methods.
Information technology may not seem like a highly applicable tool to use in the process of restoring ecological balance to the Earth’s environment. However, in reality, computer-aided systems and technologies have proven to be extremely beneficial in this process.
Applications such as remote sensing, advanced satellite and photo imaging, and computer modeling have all helped scientists gain a broader perspective of the environment and ecological issues. Using these tools, researchers can more accurately identify ecological systems and the challenges and obstacles that threaten the delicate natural equilibrium that supports these systems. In addition, using highly complex computer-aided modeling programs that duplicate the many variables and characteristics that interact within an ecological system, scientists can project estimations of the threats to an ecosystem that may emerge in the decades and even centuries to come, and devise remediative strategies based on these findings. Similarly, computer-aided models of ecosystems can also be used to assess the damage that would be inflicted on the area in different scenarios, as well as to evaluate the efficacy of various intervention efforts
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