Originally posted on March 16, 2020 @ 9:56 am
Environmentally, the worst thing to happen to planet Earth since recorded history is humankind itself. Every day there is new evidence of our unsustainable and heavy impact on the Earth’s environment. Yet we continue our parasitic ways. We continue to harm the planets with pollution, poaching, and industrial development. The average American can’t think past what their Frontier internet service displays in front of them. This makes it somewhat ironic that one of the only things that can save the planet at this point is human technology. This blog explores how.
The Environment and How Technology can Save It
It is a fact that we are currently consuming far more resources than the planet can naturally generate. And this has been coming to a head since the Industrial Revolution. In 2018 alone, we consumed a year’s worth of water in the first seven months. Water that was used in everything from our clothes to our food. At the present rate of natural resource consumption, we need 1.7 times the resources that the Earth currently has. Our global footprint has never been higher.
We can only sustain this overshoot for a short period of time. Inevitably, this over consumption will degrade the ecosystem and ultimately cause it to collapse. Global biodiversity is already on a steep decline, with more species going extinct or in danger of extinction every year. This isn’t just a gloomy picture of a distant future. All of this is happening as we speak. The need of the hour is to assist the planet in healing itself, making our existence sustainable. A collapsed ecosystem will have severe consequences for all populations on Earth. Including humans. But hope is not completely lost. Emerging technologies are helping people combat this situation, which includes:
- Remote Sensing
- Drone Monitoring
- Thermal Imaging
- Artificial Intelligence
Let’s examine these in more detail below.
Remote sensing equipment plays a huge role in monitoring and tracking industrial impact on the ground. Organizations like the WWF use remote sensing technologies for this purpose. They apply them to monitor developments and plan measures. WWF uses this technology to monitor ecologically sensitive areas. The same goes for socially sensitive areas and world heritage sites. The sensors relay information to dashboards that help WWF officials take accurate and timely action.
Drone monitoring in forested areas can help authorities locate and prevent illegal logging. The world’s forest cover has depleted alarmingly in just a few decades. Remote drones can observe forested areas and find evidence of unsustainable logging. This would be otherwise undiscovered and may harm the local ecological balance. Global Forest Watch is an online forest monitoring system that is an example of drone use to track and monitor forested areas.
Thermal imaging technology is helping authorities in Kenya combat nighttime poachers. Park rangers patrol reserves to prevent poachers from killing rare animals for ivory or bush meat. Historically, the poachers have always outnumbered the park rangers. But thermal imaging technology is helping even out the odds. It has already helped rangers apprehend a record number of poachers in Africa. Thermal imaging also helps organizations like the WWF to keep tabs on wildlife traffickers. It helps stop them from attempting foul play on animals. Online systems generate alerts every time it detects a poacher or a trafficker in an area, sending out their location to rangers on the ground.
It is ironic that AI, which is as far removed from nature as possible, is playing a vital role in keeping the environment safe. Artificial intelligence or AI is in wide use with a number of organizations and governments. It is a great tool to help with wildlife conservation efforts. China is a stage where Intel and the WWF are using AI to track and protect wild tigers as well as their habitats. They are also protecting innumerable other species as well. AI tracks wildlife movements and population. It relays the information to authorities online in real time.
It may come as a surprise, but the blockchain is one of the technologies leading the charge for a sustainable environment. For example, in New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia, the WWF uses blockchain to fight slave labor and illegal fishing in the area’s tuna industry. It does so using blockchain. The technology track fish from bait to plate, helping consumers see the entire journey of their tuna. The same technology holds a lot of potential in other commodities as well, such as sustainable agriculture.
Technology does not have to mean accessible FiOS internet only. Technology has much wider and much more important applications as well. It is time for the world to snap out of modern consumerism. It is time to start using technology to save the planet before it is too late. Start doing your part today.