When thinking about climate change and how to reverse the effects, or make a positive change, technology may not be the first thing that pops into your mind. But technology is actually aiding in the fight against climate change. And, I’ll be honest on this one, I was surprised by the technology that is currently in place, but even more surprised about what is being developed for future release.
Let’s first take a look at some of the technology that you are likely familiar with and may be using.
They were developed to enable people to conserve resources. Smart thermostats begin to understand your patterns at home and adjust to whether or not you are in your home or sleeping.
These fall under a similar category as smart thermostats in that their goal is to help conserve water with timers.
Of course, there’s an app for that! There are apps that enable you to turn the lights off in your home and there are apps that help individuals track their carbon footprint by placing a carbon value on just about everything you do or consume. And, there’s an app that can help you stop junk mail, which not only helps cut down on paper waste but might also make you a little bit happier when picking up your mail.
Plant-Based Meat Substitutes
Although the name doesn’t sound overly appealing, meat substitutes are made from vegetable proteins, which requires less land and energy to produce. (I’ve tried the Burger King Impossible Whopper. While I don’t think it tastes exactly like meat, it is pretty good!)
These technology-based initiatives are pretty mainstream at this point. The next few, however, might catch you by surprise.
This tool, which is based on global data, is a climate change solutions simulator. The simulator enables people to make adjustments to specific parameters in order to see the consequences of energy, economic growth, land use, and other parameters. The tool is primarily intended for policymakers and journalists but is open for others to use.
Although you have likely heard of this technology, you may not have thought of these vehicles as a means of aiding climate change. Self-driving cars, once perfected and mainstream can help reduce traffic and optimize driving patterns which can reduce fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
Satellites are being used to map and measure methane emissions across the globe. Emissions can be tracked in heavily populated areas, as well as areas that are difficult to access and track. In addition, satellites are leveraged to provide information on ocean temperature and wind patterns, which provide important data points to those researching these topics.
Satellites collect a lot of data (a lot is an understatement). Technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), has the ability to analyze the data that is gathered and provide easy to understand details on how the world is changing. In addition, this aggregated data can help identify the biggest vulnerabilities and risk zones that should be focused on first.
Okay, this is a big one because there are many applications. Let’s start with the analyzing side. Drones, combined with AI and machine learning, can be leveraged to gather information about the temperature, humidity, and soil in specific areas. This can help us understand what plants would be best to grow in those areas. Drones are also being used to plant trees! It’s called drone planting. Drones are equipped with biodegradable seed pods and are flown over specific areas where they drop the pods. The pods disintegrate, enabling the tree seeds to grow. One specific company, Drone Seed, has indicated that 800 seeds can be planted an hour. That’s a lot of trees!
Beyond these technologies, there are a number of organizations out there that are focused on researching and creating new advancements focused on impacting climate change in a positive way. A few of those up-and-coming advancements include:
- Nuclear-Fusion-Energy Power Plants – Fusion produces zero greenhouse gas emissions and requires less land than other renewable technologies.
- Battery-Powered Cars – These exist today, but there are researchers focused on developing battery alternatives that will be up to 10,000 times more powerful than existing battery-powered cars.
- Direct Air Capture – The goal of this process is to remove CO2 emissions directly from the air and then using it to produce fuel. Carbon Engineering has set up a demonstration plant in Squamish, British Columbia to test this technology.
The bottom line is that technology can help in the fight against climate change, if we embrace it, utilize it properly and continue to innovate around it. The sky’s the limit in terms of what we can come up with, and how it can have an immensely positive impact on our environment.