Posted by. Disrupt Tech. June 5, 2021
Let’s admit one thing. We all have wondered about the origin of the coronavirus. You are not alone. We are talking about one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the world.
If you are not Donald Trump or one of his supporters, you probably think the virus may have transmitted from animals. It’s true that we cannot invalidate Mr Trump’s theory yet. But here, we are going to focus on the other.
According to a study from Total Environment, climate change has contributed to the growth of bat species in Southern China. It’s the same region from where the virus has spread. It feels as if this could be nature’s way to take revenge.
You may connect the dots from different points of view. However, whether the coronavirus is nature’s way of revenge or not, there’s no room for deniability that we have severely damaged the environment.
Since the dawn of the industrial era, humans have achieved phenomenal growth in technology. Things that seemed impossible, things that seemed like magic – even a century ago, technology has made us take those things for granted.
Our lives have never been better. But at what cost?
This article will discuss technology’s impacts on nature and how it can contribute to saving planet Earth, our only home.
It’s sad but true that from the very inception of industrialization, technology has been misused. Such careless usage of technology has already had a damaging impact on the environment. We all know that.
Think! The burning of fossil fuels, factory emissions, power plants, vehicle exhaust—all these sources of pollution has emerged from technology. Different tech solutions are introducing more and more carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides. This increasing amount of greenhouse gases is causing global warming.
Due to the higher global temperature, we are already facing devastating effects. We are now experiencing extreme weather conditions, frequent natural disasters, and whatnot! So, there’s a definitive link between technological misuse and the worldwide environmental crisis.
Wait! Is it only us who are getting affected? Can we forgive ourselves when we look at the pictures of the poor polar bears or the burnt Koalas?
We, humans, have disturbed the natural habitats of animals. We’ve pushed their chances of survival to the edge. Look at the species extinction rate. It’s already ten to a hundred times higher compared to the average across the past ten million years! What’s more frightening is, the rate is still increasing.
Look at the world around you. The polar ice caps are melting! The sea level is rising! Ocean water is becoming acidic! The forests are burning! The soil is getting dried out!
The way it stands, we are going to face a dramatic sea-level rise. A meltdown of 1.2 trillion tons a year is not a matter of a joke! At this rate, by 2060, we are going to face at least 0.07 inches of global average sea-level rise each year. We better be ready for more frequent and severe flooding.
According to a PNAS research article, man-made causes have been instrumental to a stat. That is, 75% more forested areas are experiencing extended fire season today. And, human-derived changes accounted for around 55% of the increases in fuel aridity from 1979 to 2015.
Moreover, it’s not only about the pollutants. With technological advancement, we are now consuming natural resources faster than ever. It is called Resource Depletion. We are exhausting the underground water, oil, gas, minerals, slashing and burning the forests.
Get to the root. Ask yourself, “Would such pollution and overconsumption be possible without technology?” Besides acting as a catalyst, remember, technology itself is resource-intensive. Hence, we can say that humans and technology are helping each other to affect the world environment today.
A world without technology is unimaginable. Hence, getting rid of technology is never a solution. Besides, blaming technology for environmental crises would be utterly misleading.
Because it’s us! It’s always been us. We are irresponsible. The people who are controlling the technology have been underestimating the environmental issues. Or worse – they have been neglecting the consequences for the sake of their pocket.
The only solution we have is to make the technologies greener. That is environmentally friendly technologies that use clean alternative fuels. These alternative fuels come from renewable sources. For example, wind, solar, water, etc. Thus, they are not/less harmful to the environment.
Now let’s explore some ways how green technologies could shape the world environment –
With more than 160 electric vehicle models available today, we are on the right track. These EVs don’t emit harmful exhaust fumes (SOx, NOx, and COx). Electric buses and trucks are also becoming popular day by day. In fact, there are already more than 300k electric buses in China. We can see a glimpse of the future!
However, one question is yet to be answered. We know lithium is toxic, and it has severe environmental impacts. So What happens to the lithium-ion batteries of these EVs after their life cycle ends?
The transforming electricity market needs low-cost, long-term storage. Have you ever heard of Malta Inc.? It’s a spin-off from Google. They are currently working on molten salt energy storage. Other companies like Antora Energy, Lightsource bp are also trying to solve the same issue. They are working on thermal and solar batteries, respectively.
Molten salt or thermal or solar—all these energy storage solutions can facilitate a low-cost, zero-carbon future.
Do you know more than 350 million tons of plastic are produced each year? With a disposable business model, all these plastics end up as pollutants. Thus, we need to switch from the disposable model.
We now need a circular model. Plastic recycling will reconvert the plastic wastes back to liquid raw material. So it will be both economically viable and environmentally friendly.
Energy-efficient LED lights have already replaced traditional lights. These LED lights can reduce energy consumption and cost by more than 50%. Furthermore, smart home automation technology has already emerged. Smart appliances connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) can be automated, remotely monitored, and controlled. The sensors embedded in the technology can respond according to user needs.
These energy-saving smart appliances will be the building blocks for future smart cities.
Let’s be optimistic and round off with an ambitious environmental technology. Direct Air Capture or DAC decarbonizes the atmosphere. When the air passes through large fans, it filters harmful COx (Carbon’s oxides, like carbon dioxide). The captured carbon is then compressed and stored. A large DAC plant can capture one million tons of CO2 per year. To give it a context, it is the equivalent amount of annual emissions from 250,000 vehicles.
This technology not only reduces greenhouse emissions but can also provide wider benefits if we can use the filtered carbon to make other products. For example, we can use the captured carbon to make plastics. Again, carbon dioxide could be converted into synthetic fuel. Now, the challenge for us is to make a large-scale integration of DAC.
Technology is not the silver bullet. Especially when technology itself contributed to the environmental crisis. We need to be realistic here. Technology and the environment must coexist. And we can make that happen. Technology can make its amends by being greener and cleaner.
But, can technology itself do it? No! We need to make that happen to save mother nature and create a green, sustainable future. It’s time to act.
Happy World Environment Day!