The Intersection of Pollution and Technology

Humans create, come into contact with and feel the troubling effects of pollution every day. Each time we carelessly toss out garbage, rev our engines, replace a lightbulb in a downtown urban landscape and even flip the switch for loud noise-inducing machines, we're contributing human-made contaminants to the natural environment in harmful ways. Noise, light, energy, air and water pollution all place tremendous pressure on an already thinning ozone layer. In fact, pollution's effects on the human population is comparable to that of HIV and other diseases, like malaria—reaching more than 100 million people a year. Studies have shown that children affected by areas of strong concentration of air pollution have IQ scores an average of of five points lower than their counterparts. Scientists and environmentalists say the first step to avoiding these issues is reducing our pollution output in general by conserving energy, utilizing alternative energy and regenerable natural resources and making small changes in the way we live.

For example, nanotechnology—or super tiny, but highly powerful technological devices—is allowing people to screen water for pollution better, keep better track of their water usage and save money all the while. Electric cars leave a much smaller carbon footprint and doesn't require the siphoning of precious natural resources. And funding from organizations like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund allots money for continued environmental research and support. Looking for more ways you can help? Check out this playlist for a few simple ways technology can reduce pollution at home.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The first electric street lights appeared in the late 1870s. 00:30

  2. An innate attraction to light can be so strong that it can mesmerize some song- and seabirds, who are drawn to searchlights on land. 05:08

  3. Hundreds of species of night-migrating birds rely on constellations to navigate the night sky. 05:33

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Noise-cancelling headphones cancel outside while retaining the noise the headphones are producing. 00:21

  2. Noise-cancelling headphones include tiny microphones that listen to ambient noises. 01:38

  3. Noise-cancelling headphones are better at handling continuous noise than sudden, abrupt noises. 02:01

Written by Curiosity Staff September 2, 2014

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