Can Science Save the World

It seems that most debates these days revolve around the controversial topic of “saving the planet.” There are those who are apathetic, content with whatever happens to the earth as long as their circle of concern is not being infringed upon. There are those who are adamant proponents of the plan to create a better world, those people who ride bicycles everywhere, hold protests outside of factories, and teach their children how to say “go green” before the child learns the more traditional first word of “mama.” Then, there are those who are in between, who care for the planet, but do not consider it an overly pressing concern. This is where the majority of the population lies, between a passionate and an uncaring attitude. 

However, the obvious effects of humanity on the world are all around us, clearly visible to the naked eye. They reside in the form of cancer caused by the aftereffects of nuclear detonations. They exist in the smog covering nearly every city. They present themselves in the trash filling oceans, lakes, and streams, refuse that dirties the small percentage of available drinking water on this planet.

Can science save a world that has gone to ruin, a place where all the protesting in the world cannot force people to recycle? Well, that remains to be seen. Many people are certainly attempting. For instance, a man by the name of William McDonough has invented high quality fabric from recyclable materials that is safe enough to be eaten. He has also built millions of homes in China and in many poor countries that actually have plants growing on their rooftops, allowing greater space for the production of cash crops while providing homes for the homeless and catching storm runoff that would have destroyed any other roof over time. By utilizing solar power and various other novel ideas, McDonough managed to create factories that are brighter, safer for workers, and much better for the environment, factories that actually cost less to run than normal factories.

Now, in a 20-year project, McDonough is redesigning Ford’s River Rouge truck plant. Utilizing the same methods as he used to build seven completely green cities in China, McDonough is turning what some would call an extremely deleterious environmental monster of a factory into a green, eco-friendly workplace. This is just one example of the world being turned around one person at a time.

Can modern-day humans reverse the damage of our predecessors, or is the harm caused already too much for us to turn around? The only thing we can do is try to salvage whatever is left of our struggling planet; that is the only way to know if there is sunlight at the end of the long tunnel we dug ourselves into over the span of human history.