V.Ryan © 2015-2016

Environmental / ecological movements, often see ‘technology’ as the cause of ‘ecological disasters’ and ‘environmental problems’. For example, global warming is regarded as the result of our use of technology, the consumption of manufactured products and the resulting pollution / industrial waste. Environmentalists say we need to use less technology, in order to help protect the environment.

Environmental Modernists, have an alternative view. Technology has undoubtedly contributed to environmental problems, but it is through the use of modern technology, that environmental problems can be solved.

EXAMPLE ONE: Jeff has an old car that emits large amounts of pollution into the environment. Environmental groups say, that the old car should be scrapped / recycled, replacing it with an electric car of a bicycle. Alternatively, environmental modernists, say adding a pollution reducing exhaust (a catalytic converter), would solve the pollution problem.
EXAMPLE TWO: Millions, if not billions of people will face starvation in the future, due to the world’s ever increasing population. Using ‘conventional’ agricultural’ techniques, means that it is not possible to grow enough crops, to provide everyone with the food they need for a healthy life.
However, genetically modified crops, that are draught resistant, grow faster, stronger and resist pests, could be a solution. GM crops will thrive in poor agricultural conditions. Environmentalists say that these types of crop must not be grown, as they may cause irreversible damage, if released into the natural environment.
Environmental Modernist, say that genetic modified crops (GM crops), should be grown, to solve the food shortage faced by the human population. They say that the environmental consequences of growing them, is minimal.

EXAMPLE THREE: Environmentalist and Environmental Modernists, agree that coal powered electricity stations are extremely polluting. They also agree that there are cleaner ways of producing electricity and that old coal fired power stations should be replaced.

Environmentalists favour wind power, water power, solar power and other forms of non-polluting methods of electricity generation.

Environmental modernists include Nuclear Power Stations as an alternative. All technological options are considered, as they believe that modern and future developments in technology will help to solve environmental problems. This also includes the handling and processing of nuclear waste.


EXAMPLE FOUR: Environmentalists look upon large scale hydroelectricity schemes, as being bad for the environment. The ‘Three Gorges Dam’ in China, displaced over one million people from their land / property. It’s construction was devastating to wildlife and has increased the likelihood of earth quakes. All this offsets any benefit from the electricity produced.

However, Environmental Modernist argue that with thorough planning and research AND the deployment of the right technological solutions, damaging environmental consequences of large hydroelectricity schemes can be avoided.


Environmental Modernists (sometimes called ‘Ecological Modernists’) see the development of new technologies, as the solution to the worlds environmental problems. For example, the development of alternative energy forms such as wind power, solar power and other environmentally friendly forms. These forms of energy production are non-polluting, with the exception of the manufacturing processes required to make the generators, panels, collectors and structures. Even environmentalists agree that alternative energy is the path to take.

The difference between Environmentalists and Environmental Modernists, is that Environmentalists do not believe that technology will always be ‘beneficial’ for the environment. A good example of this is Nuclear Power, with its radioactive waste and potential for catastrophic accidents. Environmental Modernists disagree and see Nuclear Power as a realistic choice.