Consequences of Technological Fixes as a Solution to Environmental and Social Issues

Many problems involving nature and human societies are highly complex and connected that the solution to these problems are very difficult to solve for directly.  These problems include drunk driving, equitable distribution of resources, overpopulation, and tobacco addiction.  Instead of solving these problems directly technological fixes are often used instead as an attempt to correct these problems without modifying the underlying problem itself.  For example, instead of trying to fix driving behaviors or convince smokers to give up cigarettes, technological fixes such as engineering safer cars and cigarette filters are used instead.  Douthwaite states that technological fixes are important to solving social problems and provides time for a stabler fix built upon education and self-restraint (Douthwaite p.32).  Johnston disagrees with the use of technological fixes and states that their use results in an overreliance of technology in place of good engineering practices and government policies (p. 52 Johnston).  Furthermore, Huesemann states that the evolution of technological fixes has advanced much faster than the ability of nature to evolve and adapt which has resulted in both climate issues and the extinction of multiple species (Huesemann p. 8).

As science and technology evolves it becomes impossible to predict the social and environmental impact of new technologies.  Technological fixes often underestimate social problems and solutions are only temporary as human goals are diverse and constantly change (p. 54 Johnston).  Furthermore, many social and environment issues are deeply connected that it becomes impossible to predict the impact of technological fixes.  This can result in new issues from technological fixes in seemingly unrelated areas, especially in nature.  However, while using technological fixes can have risky and unpredictable environmental consequences, technological fixes can have a key role in solving social issues in making solutions more accessible.  For example, more accessible recycling containers and tobacco alternatives can encourage and make the solution to many social problems more accessible.  In this way technological fixes have a role in directly fixing social issues through guiding society to resolve underlying social issues.