GP Tuition – ‘As science advances, Man regresses.’ Do you agree?

GP Tuition – ‘As science advances, Man regresses.’ Do you agree?

Introduction
Science and technology has always played an intricate role in the development of human civilization, affecting the way we live, think and behave. From the era of primitive civilization where we were able to create tools to raise food production till our present era where modern technological advancement has affected the diverse aspects of our modern society, scientific advancement has created extensive impact on our civilization. To the modernists, they recognize the contribution of science and technology in helping man to live a more convenient and comfortable way of life in our natural perilous environment, however, the traditionalists would feel that science and technology has led man to his regression when we observe that detrimental impact of our society beyond its tangible benefits. As for me, scientific advancement does not lead to men’s regression as we have made tremendous progress with the advent of sciences and if we do regress, science cannot be made the scapegoat of our regression as it is only a means for our action.

Main body
The traditionalists and technologically-adverse group’s concern seems rational when we see how sciences and technology has undermined our civilization, even threatening its survival. From Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite and the development of nuclear arsenal, we have seen how man creates a wide range of powerful weapons to destroy his fellow beings for his conquest. Our barbaric behavior is made possible by sciences and this regression will be finally ceased when our proliferation of nuclear arsenal actualized into a full scale destruction of mankind in a nuclear war. At a more subtle level, we can also observe the destructive damage on mankind when we examine the extent of environment degradation as a result of technological advancement that bring about more production of by-products that lead to problem of pollution, global warming and drastic climatic changes. In recent years, we have observed ten warmest years since 1999, evidently supports the occurrence of global warming while overproduction has led to the rise of carbon monoxide to such alarming level that IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) has consistently call for reduction in carbon emission, which is the result of excessive production brought about by technological development demanding greater use of fossil fuels.

Besides the physical threat, cultural erosion and moral degradation also occur as we develop medical application to conduct abortion, killing of our own off-springs which most animals would not do despite the presence of natural law for survival while technological applications eliminate the traditional norms which define the cultural identity in the name of efficiency brought about by technology.

But such observation is one sided and subjective as it ignores the intent of application of technology and focuses excessively on the negative aspects of the application. We cannot ignore how the use of nuclear technology will bring about clean fuel energy which will enable the world economy to sustain production capacity without compromising our environment. With a proper plan to prevent the misuse of this technology, we can prevent the destructive impact that will cease the civilization of mankind as seen from the warning of the Doomsday Clock by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists from the University of Chicago.

The pro-life group cannot ignore the benefit of technology on abortion when they understand the need of this technology as birth of babies with down-syndrome and heredity diseases can be avoided to prevent difficulties to the family and suffering of the child. Technological advancement has not led to the extinction of traditional cultures as the use of internet technology has enabled traditional cultural activities to be shared and made known to those who are interested, ensuring the inheritance of cultural heritage. In Singapore, some of local enthusiasts of local cultural activities have uploaded local street shows, ‘Ge Tai’, to help to preserve and proliferate the interests of these activities. Hence, such closer and dimensional observation will prove that the regression of mankind does not occur as science advances.

In contrary to the proposition, scientific advancement has contributed to the progression of our civilization. A sense of human determinism and assertiveness is nurtured as technological and scientific advancement has imbued us with the desire to pursue for excellence, evidently seen from the proliferation of education.
ii) Proliferation of information with modern media technology has led to democratization of nations, empowering individuals to free them from authoritarian rule – women are given the power to uphold their rights, preventing gender discrimination – racial discrimination is also minimized
ii) Technological proliferation made possible through foreign investment which provide employment and thus, higher standard of living is made possible as more countries are able to raise their people out of poverty
iii) New medical treatment are discovered to alleviate the suffering of the people, promoting longevity as we gain greater control of epidemic of diseases like small pox and tuberculosis.

b) Man’s regression is not due to scientific discovery.
Of course, we cannot deny that man’s development under technological influence is ambiguous and controversial as its path is not without criticism. However, scientific advancement is conveniently identified as a scapegoat for the fallacy of our human nature and this is unjust. Science is merely a means to an end and the power of the usage of the tool lies in our hand. If man’s regression is to be accounted, the fault lies not in the advancement of science but the failures of man in putting the use of scientific advancement in the right perspective.

Conclusion
In sum, it is definitely not agreeable to accuse scientific advancement as the cause of our regression as we can never deny how the knowledge has led to the betterment of mankind. We have progressed with our search for the answer to understand of our natural world and apply them for the development of civilization. Of course, there are moments of fallacy that the knowledge we have gained becomes the sources of threat or the causes that leads to our regression but it is not right for us to use it as the scapegoat for our misdeeds. Our regression is seen from our lack of the intellectual and sensibility to apply the knowledge in the right way.


This article is contributed by Mr. Simon Ng, founder and principal JC GP tutor of Generalpaper.com.sg, who has 20 years of teaching experience. Currently, Mr. Simon Ng provides specialized GP Tuition and Economics Tuition. Please visit www.generalpaper.com.sg/gp-notes to read more of our JC General Paper articles.

GP Tuition – ‘Modern technology owes ecology an apology.’ Do you agree?

GP Tuition – ‘Modern technology owes ecology an apology’. Do you agree?

Introduction
Advancement in technology has brought about tremendous benefits to mankind but at the same time it has also harmed the environment. The environmentalists strongly believe that the usage of modern technology has led to the degradation of the environment. However, to the technocrats and scientists, such an assertion is absurd as they feel that modern technology is the only viable mean to solve environmental crisis. In view of these two perspectives, I am inclined to believe that modern technologies do owe ecology an apology although it can help solve some of the environment problems.

Main Body
Technocrats will not share the view that modern technology owes ecology an apology as they see technology as a solution for environmental degradation rather than as a cause of environmental contamination. The usage of clean technology over fossil-fuel based technology helps to reduce the level of carbon emission which is often seen as the main culprit of global warming. Clean technology in the form of solar power, nuclear technology and hydro power are not just energy efficient but have also significantly cut down the emission of greenhouse gases from fossil-fuel based productions. It serves as a viable alternative to fossil fuel and hence does not pollute the environment.

However, it is not easy to develop alternative energy and its use is not without criticism. The high cost of financing such clean technologies makes it an unpopular choice among countries, especially the poorer nations where their priority is on economic development rather than on environmental concerns. Also, the construction of clean technology often damages the environment in the ongoing process as seen from how the building of dam which generates hydro power undermines the ecological system though it benefits the country or city that reaps the hydro-electric power. A pertinent example would be Three Gorges dam in Yangtze River. The dams have not only disrupted the ecological system in the river but have also led to the rise of flooding in low lying rural areas of China. Hence, despite benefiting a group of people with clean energy, the detrimental impacts that it brings about outweighs the positive impacts.

Standing from the view point of an environmentalist, modern technologies do owe ecology an apology simply for the few reasons mentioned below. First, modern technology promotes comfort and convenience which lead to greater consumption and production and this promotes greater usage of resources, leading to depletion and degradation of the environment. For example, the launch of the recent iPad and sold millions of units within weeks and this is a common trend seen for most Apple products. Apple products are best known for its high quality and convenience of usage. The ease of using an iPad by just using the touch of one’s fingertip makes it attractive and appealing to consumers of today. However, the production of iPad not only depletes natural resources but it is also a fossil fuel based production that contributes to the rising level of carbon emissions in today’s world. Hence, the satisfaction and comfort consumers derived from consuming more goods, made possible by modern technology come at the expense of the environment.

Though modern technology has eased accessibility, through the various mode of transport, it has worsened environmental woes. People today have a wider range of transportation to choose from and our increasing dependence on modern technology for transportation has caused us to deplete fossil fuel at a faster rate as we are unable to move away from the use of fossil fuel due to market principles and high degree of convenience. As such, the usage of the different modes of transportation emits carbon gases which are a source of global warming. Furthermore, the convenience of travelling from countries to countries made possible by modern technology has encouraged tourism. Over the year, we have seen countries developing their tourism industry at the expense of the environment. For example, many resorts are developed at tropical natural habitats which lead to a large scale of deforestation and degradation of the natural environment as we see how we contaminate the environment with rubbish and trash we dumped in these tropical resorts. Hence, tourism development would mean that the government would have to sacrifice the environment in order to achieve its aims, implying that the rise of tourism encouraged by the ease of modern transportation damages the environment.

Last but not least, modern technology is seen as a crucial tool in developing the economy which sadly to say, often comes with a price to be paid by the environment. In recent years, we have been seen the emergence of rising economies like China and India. Technological advancement accounts for their rapid development as it has allowed these countries to set up industries to produce goods to meet the world demand as seen from how China has contributed to the growth of her economy significantly. However, China is also one of the world’s leading industries in the production of carbon emission as seen from the greater increase in the coal based energy production at a rate of 2 plants being built per month in year 2009. With greater usage of modern technology to propel economic growth, the environment is at the expense of economic growth, propelled by modern technology.

Conclusion
In sum, it is not an accusation to assert that modern technology owes ecology an apology when we consider the detrimental effects it can create on our environment as we rely more of it for the benefits of a modern life. However, if we would to apply the modern technology to the advantage of the environment as proposed by the technocrats, such an accusation will not be justifiable.


This article is contributed by Mr. Simon Ng, founder and principal JC GP tutor of Generalpaper.com.sg, who has 20 years of teaching experience. Currently, Mr. Simon Ng provides specialized GP Tuition and Economics Tuition. Please visit www.generalpaper.com.sg/gp-notes to read more of our JC General Paper articles.