Benifits of Science and Technology

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While, science and technology had indeed led to great advances in global development, increased investment in that field could do much more to feed, nurture, house, and employ the growing world population while protecting the environment, Harvard professor William Clark told a panel discussion on science and technology for sustainable development this morning.

Mr. Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, noted that investments in science and technology had historically high rates of return. Through better mobilization of resources, joint solutions and shared knowledge the world’s scientific and technological minds could be tapped to reverse Africa’s declining agricultural production, make energy use more efficient, design systems to accommodate explosive population growth, restore degrading ecosystems and conserve biodiversity.

He said that the International Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability, the brainchild of independent scientists, had in the last four years queried agriculture, industry and health experts worldwide to assess science and technology’s role, in meeting development objectives set forth by the United Nations. They had agreed that there was a real need for an international research system similar to those used to advance agribusiness and public health campaigns to eliminate major diseases and stratospheric ozone protection.

However, Second Committee Chairman Iftekhar Chowdhury (Bangladesh), who chaired the panel, said that the creation and application of science and technology to address poverty was one of the most neglected aspects of development, thus far. Low levels of research and development, expenditures in health, education, and the creation of income and employment were widening the gap between rich and poor.

Lixin Zhang, co-founder and president of the World High Technology Society (WHTS), said that science and technology could and should be used to improve the quality of life. However, drug discovery was lengthy and expensive; it took 12 to24 years on average to create just one drug. While, investment in drug research and development was rising steadily, drug production output at major manufacturers was in fact declining. Drug-resistant infectious diseases, such as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, had claimed the lives of millions of people in the developing world and greatly increased health expenditures.

Noting that drug makers, in the face of growing pressure from consumers and insurance companies to reduce health care costs, were seeking solutions, he said that a new generation of so-called synergistic drugs that could potentially treat neuro-degeneration, diabetes and inflammation, among other health ills, would serve as a bridge between traditional and modern medicines. Science and technology should be used in that and in other ways for sustainable development.

In the energy field, scientists were exploring future uses of renewable energy, said Nejat Veziroglu, director of the University of Miami’s Clean Energy Research Institute. Fossil fuels should be replaced by hydrogen energy, which was clean and efficient, with none of the damaging effects of fossil fuels, such as ozone layer depletion, acid rain and pollution. Moreover, hydrogen would be a permanent energy system, since it was produced from renewable energy sources.

Other energy systems had been proposed for the post-petroleum era, such as a synthetic fossil fuel system that produced synthetic gasoline and natural gas from coal deposits, he said. However, when production costs, environmental damage and efficiencies for hydrogen and synthetic fossil fuels were compared, the results pointed to solar hydrogen energy as the best system for a sustainable future, he said, adding that it should replace...
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