Only time can judge the future of the man-made world. Many feel that economic, technological and scientific advancements are accompanied by higher risks for environment, society and well-being. Paul Gray describes a paradox of technological development that technology is both – a source and a remedy of environmental change.
With explosive development of the human intelligence, there have been developments in technology that were thought to be nearly impossible a few years ago. The way we use it makes a difference, for better or for worse. Technology and environmentalism are two terms that you don’t normally see in the same sentence. However, when used in the correct way, technology could be the key to preserving the earth for generations to come.
Technological advancements have led to the digitization of so much our lives. We have switched to using the digital version instead of physical forms of various items like books, movies, music, letters, maps, notes, magazines, and on and on. The consolidation of things within one device is helping us consume less. The rise of smartphones and tablets has played a significant role in the same. These technologies let us carry just one gadget that serves many purposes. Smartphones serve as a go-to source for making/receiving calls, newspapers, music players, personal planners, conducting transactions, GPS devices, watches, gaming consoles, alarm clocks, cameras, navigating life events like getting information about a health condition or getting a new job and more. Tablets do all that plus they are even replacing home computers. Digitization and consolidation, thus, have led to considerably lower environmental footprint.
Technology is being used to protect the flora and fauna. Various technological methods are being implemented to save the species that are on the verge of extinction. For example, scientists have developed a method to protect rhinos, attacked for their horns made of keratin, from the poachers. The scientists, vets and conservationists from the United Kingdom have developed a system that uses GPS technology, heart rate monitors to detect the sudden rise or fall in the heart rate, and a camera mounted in the rhino’s horn to keep poachers from killing the animal. Newer models of genetic engineering are being devised by biotechnology. These practices will allow agriculture scientists to harvest crops using less water and fertilizer and make crops more nutrient-dense, reducing waste, toxicity of the land and environmental damage.
Technology is not just helping the plants and animals, it is also extending its way to reduce pollution and prevent climate change. Digital sniffers are being used to detect pollution. GMAP (Geo-spatial Measurement of Air Pollution) is one such mobile system. The ocean is also being protected using the highly advanced sensors.
Drones, while seen by some just as toys, are helping environmentalists to work more efficiently. These aerial imaging bots can provide high-resolution geographic data and can be used to access regions that were previously considered to be out of bounds by the scientist. The data gathered by drones gives us unprecedented insights into the working and complexity of the ecosystem. The rate at which the glaciers melt is being monitored by professional drones in the Himalayas. A record of how and where animals and birds migrate can also be kept with the help of drones. Recently, drones have also been suggested to tackle deforestation by dropping seed pods to preserve the forests.
Unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs have changed the way we respond to environmental calamities and play a revolutionizing role when it comes to disaster relief. Drones have been of great help when dealing with typhoons, hurricanes, wildfires, rescue missions, and many more.
Technology has been used in various creative ways to develop the alternative sources of energy like solar, wind, tidal, thermal, wave, biomass, hydroelectric, and more leading to a more eco-friendly environment. These have reduced carbon footprints as opposed to the carbon footprints caused by using fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources of energy.
There’s a great prospect for technology to become a colossal part of global conservation efforts. Technology can, and must, be used as a driving force to conserve the environment.