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The environment is the very reason behind our existence but soon may usher in our doom if not taken care of. What was once a beautiful place with the lush forests, meadows, and rivulets is now just an expense of grayscale – with the dust of degradation all around. Yes, technology and environment are not two issues that you may think go hand in hand. However, high-tech devices have a way more pivotal role to play in resurrecting nature than you may think.
Owing to evolution’s gift of intelligence, we have been inspired by nature to make technological advancements. While some may have increased the carbon footprint on our home planet, some innovations have the power to change nature for better.
Ericsson has been one of the few tech moguls to bring sustainability before the technology to tackle the global challenges that plague our mother nature today. Back in 2016, they started a pro-environment project called the “17 Sustainable Development Goals”. On September 20, the brand launched the Technology for Good Impact Report while addressing the UN General Assembly. The Good Impact Report was introduced as a project to keep a check on the impact of technology across the globe.
On this event, the brand talked about their 5G-automated electric vehicles that have a key role to play in reducing transport emissions. They spoke of using IoT in revitalizing forests, and several other innovative ideas.
This program made people all over the world think how technology can undo the damage that once upon a time technology and other human practices inflicted upon the environment.
So let us see how technology is providing substantial solutions for our environmental woes.
While some may feel that sustainable economic practices are the way to save the world from the impending doom, some think technology can restore what it took away. The best answer lies in a common ground – somewhere between the two extremes.
Here are some of the technical schools of thought that have taken the mantle to save our environment.
One of the most recognized eco-friendly advancements in the spectrum of technology has been in the sector of clean energy. Renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and hydroelectric power are being considered the ultimate solution to reduce the consumption of non-renewable sources like coal, fuel, etc. Moreover, since the resources are proving to be cheaper, serious efforts are being made in making improvements in this front. Products like Tesla’s solar panels have made them more accessible and appealing to consumers.
Digital media has officially taken over the print to restrict the usage of paper. Bulletins, newspapers and glossy magazines have now been replaced with online forums, e-papers, and blogs. Several companies to have signed out of sending paper bills to residences and are sending e-bills as a part of the Green Revolution. Brands are sending newsletters and digital pamphlets over email, thus switching from handouts and paper junk.
Moreover, with the pair of a smartphone and a stylus, people have stopped spending money on writing material. Modern classrooms allow e-books and tablets so that students can take down assignments to help in bringing down the consumption of the global tree population.
The gifts that technology has to offer are also being used to make sure that all the green laws and regulations are being abided by. Hunting and poaching activities are being restricted by camouflaging drones in foliage. Like security cameras, these drones hover above the areas that poachers frequently visit, making it more difficult for illegal hunters to get away with the crime.
The government is also using technology to keep a close check on companies and whether they are following environmental regulations or not. The Geo-Spatial Measurement of Air Pollution is a brilliant example of this – a device which measures the amount of pollutants present in the air in a location.
Since we have a vague understanding of the sharing economy, let us start with the classic example of an Uber pool. You share a ride with others and contribute to reducing the carbon emission in the environment. And even if not pool, Uber has made it possible for us to get around without having to buy a car. Carpooling is also being normalized so that people can hitch rides with a car owner to reduce emissions as well as traffic congestions on the road.
Airbnb has also made contributions in this field by helping travellers and homeowners come together to take advantages of spaces. Services like Hulu and Netflix have also made DVDs redundant, thus reducing plastic consumption and technology waste.
While sharing rides over an Uber cab does help us reduce the number of vehicles on the road, it does not do much to solve the issue of environmental degradation. Here is where electric cars and buses come in to stand as a more sustainable option. The use of electric vehicles has been made common in smart-countries like Japan and Canada.
Other parts of the world are seeing a steady rise in hybrid vehicles as well. As a result, the price of electric cars has seen a drop due to the technical improvements in the costs of the batteries that they run on. In fact, if things go at the right speed, we can expect electric cars to be cheaper than traditional vehicles by 2022.
Smart homes go beyond technological sophistication and comfort and can be used as an avenue to promote environmentalism. Every household consumes more energy than we can think of and smart home devices can bring this rate of consumption down by several notches. With smart thermostats and motion-activated lighting, we can now use power only when we really need it. The Philips Hue Lighting system is one such device.
The World Health Organization has listed indoor pollution as one of the dangerous threats to our health. Brands like Clairy have come up with natural air purifiers that are fuelled by plants to improve the quality of air in an enclosed space. The purifier uses its advanced sensors and a photocatalytic filter to track the quality of air, temperature, and humidity levels.
Ironic as it may sound, we now have the technology to reduce tech waste. With the world moving up the ladder of digitization, almost 78% of the entire world population today own mobile phones and a personal computer, to say the least. And as newer versions are introduced with every passing second, we are quick to consider them obsolete and move on to the next one. This is why technological obsolescence has more than doubled within the last ten years.
To combat this, e-waste management company Electronic Recyclers International is collaborating with ecommerce brands like Best Buy and eBay to sell old recycled electronics. They sort and disassemble electronics ranging from batteries to phones to DVD players and recycles about 250 million pounds of e-waste each year solely in North America.
Our continuous quest to make lives more comfortable for us has taken a toll on the environment, and it is time that we stop. The earth is in dire straits, and it cannot bear any more gashes and wounds. To avoid the approaching apocalypse, we need to change our selfish ways to make this planet a better place to live in for every form of life. It is, therefore, time to show a greater sense of responsibility and turn technology into a boon from the bane it has become for the earth. We must invest in sustainability and use technology to limit the negative impact of our surroundings. Only this would secure our future on our home planet.