Is development a double-bladed sword?

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Selfie I took at the bottom of the Burj Khalifa (Dubai) in 2017
Selfie I took at the bottom of the Burj Khalifa (Dubai) in 2017, just before going up.

“Development is killing the environment”
“If cities continue growing there will be no nature left”
“Urban centers are suffocating us”

These are strong statements that I find myself, and my peers saying often. We frequently talk about how strange it is that humanity has done so much to improve its way of living, meanwhile destroying its surroundings.

This is not completely wrong to say, as half of the world’s tropical forest has been cleared, and we are losing 18.7 million acres of woodland per year which in turn leads to loss of habitat for many species of plants and animals. This is because as population grows, we need more room to build services for the public.

However, upon further research I discovered that there are numerous people trying to make a difference, trying to help the disaster we have created, with the help of technology.

For starters there are plenty of countries that have begun, or will soon begin, to use renewable energy as their main source of energy. They have done so by switching to geothermal, solar, wind and hydroelectric sources instead of burning fossil fuel. Sweden has even launched a challenge to the world: a race to who will become the first country that obtains 100% of its energy from eco-friendly sources! Iceland is currently the leading country in this marathon, because of its numerous geothermal power sources due to its geographic position.

Furthermore, cloud storage, social media and the invention of computers allow businesses and students to use less paper for their activities. Many books can be found online, and bills, newsletters and mail are now much less common to find on printed paper, as the digital copies can be accessed to anywhere, anytime and do not occupy space; however, this is very subjective and depends on the individual's willingness to switch from paper to screen.

Environmental monitoring is an essential tool to use if we wish to recover from this climate crisis. It is used to assess the environmental state of a chosen region, so we are aware of the issues present and can therefore formulate methods to solve them. To continue, there are many robots being built to assist humans in this cause. For instance there are robots that dive to depths of the ocean, and are currently being used to monitor the health of coral reefs. In addition robots also use compressed air through a pneumatic system to plant trees, this will help in the reforestation process around the world, as well as restoration of natural habitats and ecosystems that are present in woodlands. Also robots can crawl into areas that are uncomfortable for people to enter, such as sewers, this can have a great impact on pollution if you consider that sewers are where large part of our waste is found.

To conclude, I believe that there is an immense amount of people that are trying to improve our current situation, our climate crisis. This leaves me very hopeful for a future where humans can keep evolving, respecting nature; although it is not an easy path to follow, but I am immensely hopeful and grateful for the efforts being made. This generation is taking the Earth’s condition very seriously, and at heart. Together, united we can build a better society.

Humanitarian response, sustainable development and sustaining peace are three sides of the same triangle.

-Antonio Guterres
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