Technology has revolutionized our world, yet it also poses many of the problems facing Earth. If we use appropriate economic strategies to manage it properly, technology can be both a blessing and a curse.
One major problem technology has caused is deforestation, an enormous loss of land for wildlife and plants. To combat this loss, several companies are trying to plant trees using drones and seed pods.
1. Reducing deforestation
Deforestation is one of the greatest threats to nature. Trees are being felled for various reasons, such as mining for metals and minerals or land-use change to make space for agriculture.
Deforestation is occurring at unprecedented rates, leading to record tree loss. WWF estimates that 8.3 million acres – roughly the size of Belgium – of forest are lost each year due to deforestation alone in the tropics.
Thankfully, technology can do some things to assist. Satellite imagery provides a clear visual of how many trees are being cut down.
Other ways technology can help reduce deforestation include recognizing patterns of road construction or oil palm plantations within forested areas. This information helps conservationists decide whether and how to intervene.
2. Reducing air pollution
Air pollution is one of the top environmental health hazards on Earth, contributing to various adverse effects such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and even premature death.
Technology plays an integral role in combatting air pollution. It makes cleaning processes more efficient and less polluting, thus contributing to a cleaner environment.
Additionally, improved control can help reduce waste and defects in production processes.
Process control systems like meters and sensors can help make production processes more efficient.
Centrifuges could be utilized to reduce the amount of solids in wastewaters and catalytic converters could be installed on engine exhaust systems to reduce air pollution.
Another way to reduce air pollution is by incorporating more nature into the landscape. A study discovered that adding plants near industrial sites, roadways and power plants could reduce emissions on average by 27 percent.
3. Reducing water pollution
Technology plays a significant role in water pollution reduction, especially for industrial processes and households. This can be accomplished through the implementation of green tech to enhance products or adding smart functionality like water-saving features that encourage users to use only what is strictly necessary.
One way to reduce water pollution is by improving infrastructure. Different technologies exist that can detect leaks in pipes, which account for much of the wasted water in both the US and abroad.
Another way to reduce water pollution is by detecting and eliminating persistent organic pollutants in drinking water. Researchers at SUNY Research Foundation have developed cost-effective sorbents that can remove common chemicals like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). These pollutants are often found in consumer products, posing health hazards to both humans and wildlife alike.
4. Reducing waste
Technology can do much to save the environment by reducing waste. This can be accomplished through improved food storage and preservation, as well as more efficient recycling processes.
The amount of waste going to landfills has become an increasingly pressing problem in recent years. Fortunately, there are still numerous ways in which individuals can reduce their impact on the environment by cutting back on consumption.
Businesses can utilize tracking systems to monitor their operations, materials and emissions. Doing this allows them to identify inefficiencies and devise strategies for waste reduction.
5. Reducing carbon emissions
Technology can help us reduce carbon emissions by lowering energy demand in the global economy. This can be accomplished through improved energy efficiency, replacing high-carbon fossil fuels with lower-carbon alternatives or capturing and sequestering CO2 emitted during combustion of fossil fuels.
Industrial processes can also be made more sustainable by reducing emissions from products or materials used in their production. Examples include electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells and more efficient energy usage.
Reducing carbon emissions requires rapid technological progress, as greenhouse gas emissions have longer lifecycles compared to shorter-lived conventional pollutants like SO2 (sulphur dioxide). To meet stringent emission reduction targets, we will need to transform the world’s energy system.