BBC NEWS | Technology | Future tech must protect planet
In his final Reith Lecture, Lord Broers calls for the green agenda to be given centre stage.
While technology has often been responsible for environmental problems, it could also be the only solution, he believes.
Lord Broers also makes some predictions of the future of technology.
He foresees that technological advances could provide a cure for AIDS and cancer, alleviate poverty and create hospitals where mistakes are rare.
No room for technophobes
"It is still possible in England at least, for young people from the age of fifteen to study only mathematics and physics, or on the other hand to do no science or mathematics at all. This depresses me greatly"
In order to make sure that technology plays a role in protecting the environment, technologists and scientists will need to listen more to public concerns, such as those over GM foods.
"It is time now as a matter of urgency and for the sake of saving our planet, and thus safeguarding the future of the human race, to move away from the old concept of 'the public understanding of science' to a new more dynamic 'public engagement," he says.
It needs to be a two-way debate, and part of this will require schools to give equal weight to both the Arts and Sciences.
"It is still possible in England at least, for young people from the age of fifteen to study only mathematics and physics, or on the other hand to do no science or mathematics at all. This depresses me greatly," says Lord Broers.
Instead engineers should learn Shakespeare and arts graduates should no longer be proud to be technophobes, he says.
Alongside the cultural balance that needs to be struck, there needs to be more done to address the gender imbalance.
"In our schools, girls now outperform boys in all subjects, and yet most girls are frequently brought up to assume that engineering and many of the sciences are male subjects," says Lord Broers.
In his final lecture of a series looking at how technology can hold the key to the future of the human race, Lord Broers criticises the expansion of air travel and lack of planning to deal with traffic congestion.
He also urges people to take more responsibility when it comes to conserving energy in their homes.
"Average householders have little idea how much energy they are using, nor how to reduce their consumption," he says.
"Technology could supply simple solutions, for example, by providing meters that could be located in kitchens or over back doors that gave the householder a real time indication of the amount of power they were using."
Lord Broers concludes his lecture with some predictions for what technology can achieve in coming years.
The ability to solve larger and larger problems will lead to 95% accuracy in weather forecasting, hospitals in which mistakes are almost never made, reduction in accident rates on the roads and railways, and the automation of traffic flow.
Ultimately better control of economies and the improvement in managing complex organisation could alleviate poverty, he predicts.
The ability of technology to identify objects and people could bring an end to manual supermarket checkouts with keys and money becoming "curiosities of the past" as radio frequency tags take on their roles.
Perhaps the most significant advances will be made in the field of medicine, he predicts.
"I am confident that vast strides will be made - in the control of, and perhaps even in the curing of AIDS and some forms of cancer," he says.
If the previous century was about people enjoying the benefits of technology, the next should be dedicated to ensuring that the environment is protected, he concludes.
"Technology will truly triumph if we succeed."