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Architecture and Technology: The impact of modern technology on global warming

Authors:
  • Tanri Abeng University

Abstract and Figures

Modern technology provides a better opportunity for people to live easily and conveniently. Using a car is faster than taking a walk or riding a bicycle and tends to be more convenient. People started to change the transport mode from riding a horse to use the train when this modern technology was invented; people change their behaviours to be more dependent on new technology. However, since the new technology is mainly operated by fossil fuel, the more technology we use the more carbon dioxide is to be released to the atmosphere, creating global warming. In the past, people tend to use traditional technology, which is mainly operated by the human and animal muscles, emitting lower carbon dioxide for operating than the new one. This paper discusses the impact of the utilisation of modern technology in architecture in relation to global warming.
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Architecture and Technology:
The impact of modern technology on global warming
Tri Harso Karyono
School of Architecture, Tanri Abeng University, Jakarta
Email: t_karyono@yahoo.com; tri.karyono@tau.ac.id
Paper presented in the International Conference on Technology and Local wisdom, University of Sains
Al Quran (UNSIQ), Wonosobo, Indonesia, 6 April 2015
Abstract
Modern technology provides a better opportunity for people to live easily and conveniently. Using a car
is faster than taking a walk or riding a bicycle and tends to be more convenient. People started to change
the transport mode from riding a horse to use the train when this modern technology was invented;
people change their behaviours to be more dependent on new technology. However, since the new
technology is mainly operated by fossil fuel, the more technology we use the more carbon dioxide is to be
released to the atmosphere, creating global warming. In the past, people tend to use traditional
technology, which is mainly operated by the human and animal muscles, emitting lower carbon dioxide
for operating than the new one. This paper discusses the impact of the utilisation of modern technology in
architecture in relation to global warming.
Keywords: architecture, carbon dioxide, global warming, modern technology,
1. Introduction
The type of technology that human being used would determine the use of energy, hence, the
emission of carbon dioxide. The huge amount of carbon dioxide release due the use of modern
technology to support human activities has created global warming and climate change. Global
warming cause rapid melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, raising sea levels and
threatening million people who live in low-lying areas and small islands [1].
The improvement of Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine by James Watt in 1776 [2] has triggered
the First Industrial Revolution in the UK, Western Europe and later to the world. New
technology has arrived, reducing people to use their own muscles and also the dependency on
animal muscles. Factories could multiply their products more easily which meant burning more
coal to operate the mechanical equipment. The burning of massive coal was the beginning of a
significant emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It has been discovered later that the
huge emission of carbon dioxide has triggered global warming and changed the earth’s climate.
A marked escalation has appeared since 1890 when the invention of electricity emerged the
Second Industrial Revolution. Some more inventions on diesel engine at the end of 19 century
[3] and the jet engine in the first quarter of twenty century [4] made human beings could move
faster and easier. Since then, the dependency on new technology has been increased, along with
these inventions, and this has changed human behaviour towards living. People tend to more
dependent on new technology in order to get a better life and achieve a higher standard of life
than before, leading to the vast use of natural resources and energy.
A sharp escalation on carbon emission has been detected in 1950 [4] in which, along with the
increase of global population, many new technologies were rapidly used in a number of sectors
like transportation, industry, household and building. In building, elevator and air conditioner
have been invented. Many multi-story and high rise buildings have been built everywhere since
then, not only in the industrial countries but also in the developing countries. The availability of
air-conditioners in buildings affected human behaviour to wear thicker clothes like jackets since
people tend to expect the indoor environments would be much cooler. These simple changes in
human behaviour have demanded more electrical energy to be used, emitting more carbon to the
atmosphere, creating global warming and climate change.
2. Economic development and the use of modern technology
The development of economics in the developing countries like Indonesia tends to increase the
dependency on the use of modern technology. New equipments from the developed worlds have
been brought to these countries. People changed their life from the traditional way to a more
modern, changing their behaviours and lifestyles. Values have been changed so did the human
behaviour. People tended to be more consumptive, using more modern products and modern
goods like private cars, air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, and electrical equipments
imported from overseas countries. They started to build luxurious and fully air-conditioned
houses, having more than five cars in a single family and consumed imported food products,
ignoring the fuel consumption and the electrical bills they had to pay, as everything was
affordable for them. Since modern technology tends to be produced and operated by fossil fuels,
the escalation of carbon emission is unavoidable.
In the tropical climate like Indonesia, most of the architects tend to be reluctant to find out the
way to cool buildings by passive approaches. Glass box buildings are built everywhere,
neglecting shading devices, created a greenhouse effect inside the building, hence required more
energy to cool the building.
The invention of low energy cars enhances people to travel more, consequently, more fuel in
total has to be consumed. The invention of new technology, even for the low energy technology,
has created more energy to be used. People tend to change the values and behaviour to adapt to
the new technology tends to be more energy consumptive.
New technology has created cars and other motorized vehicles which are cheaper and nicer.
People changed their lifestyle. People started to avoid taking a walk and riding bicycles since
using motorized vehicles seems to be more convenient and faster. In Indonesia there is a record
showing an increase number of motorized vehicles. Within the past 25 years the number of cars
has increased about ten times greater than before.
Table 1 shows an increased number of motor vehicles from 1987 to 2010 [5]
Mode
1987
2010 (excluded East Timor)
Car
1,170,103
8,891, 041
Bus
303,378
2,250,109
Truck
953,694
4,687,789
Motor cycle
5,554,305
61,078,188
Total
7,981,480
76,907,127
Table 1 shows a significant increase of motorized vehicles from 1987 to 2010. There should be a
significant amount of carbon dioxide released due to the increase of the number of motorized
vehicles within this period. Table 2 shows the amount of carbon dioxide released by different
modes of transport and different number of people occupied the vehicles. Walking and cycling
emit no carbon dioxide, travelling by train in the fully occupied carriage would emit 21,1g CO2
per person per kilometer, the smallest emission produced by any type of vehicles excluding
bicycle. While, flying with aeroplane for relatively short to medium distance would emit 219,9g
CO2 per person per kilometer, or about ten times higher than the train. However, the most highest
emission is when we travel alone using a large family car which emits 244g CO2 per person per
kilometer. Considering this fact, changes of our behaviours toward the use of transport modes
would help to reduce our carbon emissions.
Table 2. Carbon emissions by transport types [6]
Mode
Detail
Occupancy
CO2
(g/Km)
Walk
0
Cycle
0
Motorcycle
4-Stroke <250cc
Driver only
73
Motorcycle
4-Stroke <250cc
Driver plus pillion
73
Bus
Diesel (1996-2001): Urban
use
100%
892
Bus
Diesel (1996-2001): Urban
use
75%
892
Bus
Diesel (1996-2001): Urban
use
50%
892
Taxi
Minicab passenger car: Petrol
1 passenger
216
Taxi
Minicab passenger car: Petrol
2 passengers
216
Taxi
Minicab passenger car: Petrol
3 passengers
216
Train
Network Turbo: diesel
(regional network)
100% occupancy
(all seats full)
3637
Airplane
Domestic UK (B737-400)
100% occupancy
(all seats full)
32107
Airplane
Long-haul International
(B747-400)
100% occupancy
(all seats full)
93102
Car
Average city-car petrol
Driver only
153,3
Average city-car natural gas
Driver only
118
Average city-car petrol
hybrid
Driver only
107,3
Average large family petrol
Driver only
244
Average large family petrol
Driver plus 4 passengers
244
3. Building, housing and carbon emissions
The invention of new technology helps people to build a high-rise building. This kind of building
would need much more energy per square metre than the low-rise. There would be energy
required to operate escalator, water pump, air conditioning (AC) and other equipments. In 2009
Indonesia had 40 skyscrapers, and it was estimated that by the end of 2012 this country would
have 75 skyscrapers [7]. In 2015 this country will have 150 skyscrapers and by 2020 the number
getting bigger to be 250. All these high-rise buildings are mainly built in Jakarta. Within three
years time from 2009 to 2012 the number of skyscrapers would nearly double and by 2020 the
number would be six folds compared to 2009. There will be six times more carbon emitted by
skyscrapers alone..
Another serious problem related to the invention of technology is something related to thermal
comfort in the housing sector. Many modern houses are built without climatic considerations,
creating an uncomfortable environment inside the houses. A big number of houses are installed
by AC, consuming a lot of energy and emitting a huge amount of carbon dioxide. Many
architects believe it is unlikely to build a comfortable house the tropical climate without AC, so
that people always started to build houses with AC in mind and behave accordingly. People tend
to become more dependent on AC to cool their houses, resulting the more energy to be
consumed and more carbon dioxide to be emitted, creating global warming.
4. New technology, new behavior and global warming
Many new technologies help people to have more choices for living. New technology mainly
operated by electricity and motor engines can provide something which is convenient and more
comfortable to support human living. However, people may not realise that this technology could
destroy human existence on the earth when people cannot control in using it. The massive use of
modern technology emits huge amounts of carbon dioxide, generating global warming.
Considering to use some of the traditional and appropriate technologies, which are operate
mainly by human muscle and natural energy like wind, water flow and sun rays, will reduce the
carbon emissions without degrading the quality of people life
As they are more choices by the provision of some new and modern technology, people could
actually be less dependent on a particular kind of technologies. Using the newest, most advanced
and sophisticated technology is not a must. It is only a matter of choices. If we still comfortable
to use our muscle or natural energy why should we use mechanical and electrical devices which
are operated by fossil fuel.
Some kind of life style and behaviours of vernacular people, which could reduce carbon
emissions, may be considered to follow. With a modest life style, behave wisely in the
environment, vernacular society, sometimes described as primitive and backward are consuming
less natural resources, including energy, producing less a negative impact to the environment.
Unless there is changing of attitude and behaviour towards the use of new and modern
technology, there will be more carbon to be emitted, leading to global warming.
References
[1] Girardet, H and Mendonca, M (2009) A Renewable World Energy, Ecology, Equality A
Report for the World Future Council, Green Books.
[2] James Watt, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Watt, viewed on 11 Sept 2012
[3] Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913). at http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldiesel.htm,
viewed on 13 Sept 2012
[4] Timeline of historic inventions, at
http://library.thinkquest.org/21798/data/tqmainsite/timeline/, viewed on 13 Sept 2012
[5] Badan Pusat Statistik, Number of Motor Vehicles by Types, Indonesia 1987-2010 (Source:
Indonesia Police Office) at
file:///G:/TRANSPORTATION/type%20of%20vehicles%20in%20indonesia.htm, viewed
on 15 Sept 2012
[6] The Guardian Datablog, Emissions by different modes of transport at
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Agol553XfuDZdHlWSmRRckpXZWdScz
doVVBjbHU2dHc&hl=en_GB#gi]d=0, viewed on 15 Sept 2012
[7] Tempo Magazine Thursday, 19 July, 2012, Indonesia to Have 75 Skyscrapers by Year End
at http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2012/07/19/055418001, viewed on 21 Sept 2012
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
  • H Girardet
  • M Mendonca
Girardet, H and Mendonca, M (2009) A Renewable World Energy, Ecology, Equality A Report for the World Future Council, Green Books.
  • Statistik Badan Pusat
Badan Pusat Statistik, Number of Motor Vehicles by Types, Indonesia 1987-2010 (Source: Indonesia Police Office) at file:///G:/TRANSPORTATION/type%20of%20vehicles%20in%20indonesia.htm, viewed on 15 Sept 2012
Emissions by different modes of transport at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?
  • The Guardian Datablog
The Guardian Datablog, Emissions by different modes of transport at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Agol553XfuDZdHlWSmRRckpXZWdScz doVVBjbHU2dHc&hl=en_GB#gi]d=0, viewed on 15 Sept 2012
Indonesia to Have 75 Skyscrapers by Year End
  • Magazine Tempo
  • Thursday
Tempo Magazine Thursday, 19 July, 2012, Indonesia to Have 75 Skyscrapers by Year End at http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2012/07/19/055418001, viewed on 21 Sept 2012
1858-1913). at http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldiesel.htm, viewed on 13
  • Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913). at http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldiesel.htm, viewed on 13 Sept 2012
Indonesia to Have 75 Skyscrapers by Year End at http://www.tempo
Tempo Magazine Thursday, 19 July, 2012, Indonesia to Have 75 Skyscrapers by Year End at http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2012/07/19/055418001, viewed on 21 Sept 2012