Fighting Climate Change with Technology
Almost every scientist and scientific organisation now agrees that climate change is real, is upon us and is devastating. It’s also agreed that climate change is virtually entirely due to human activity. The question now is what are we as a species going to do about the destruction we have caused?
As technology blends more and more seamlessly into every area of our daily lives, it makes sense to harness this development to combat climate change. Broadly speaking, technology can be used to combat climate change in two ways, by actually developing tools, products and systems to monitor change, formulate solutions and have a greener impact on the environment, and by educating people.
We can use technology to help us deal with climate change in several different ways. At the moment fossil fuels supply 80% of the world’s energy demands, so cleaner sources and renewable energy, as well as designs that use less energy, could have a huge impact on our overall carbon footprint.
Mapping is also essential to monitor the effects of climate change and formulate solutions, and has been used very effectively in understanding all 54 of Australia’s Natural Resource Management regions. Targeted solutions are beginning to be put in place, but more mapping and more changes need to happen. Collaborating and sharing data is also very important, since if anything should be a collective human effort, it’s working towards saving our planet. Open-source data and technologies are essential for this, and are regarded by many as the way of the future.
Essentially, since we are here and have needs and structures that will not change, the idea is that we need to take responsibility for those and manage them as best we can. This includes cleaner fuels and the monitoring mentioned above, as well as the sharing of ideas as much as possible. It also includes ways to manage mobile technology, since that seems as though it is here to stay, by lessening the demand on electrical grids with something like QuickCharge and with other developing ideas. Self-driving cars should help to minimise waste and traffic by optimising traffic patterns, and the Internet of Things should be able to conserve a lot of energy by adjusting and adapting the output of devices as needed. There is plenty that can be done, and more ideas are being generated all the time.
While there is much that can be done to deal with climate change, everyone needs to be engaged in order to really make a difference. The ultimate tool for combating this crisis is having every person take responsibility for it, at the level of themselves, their homes, their communities, their towns and their countries. To make this happen, real awareness of the issues has to be raised.
Several documentaries have been made on the devastation that climate change is causing, with one of the most recent and the most powerful being Before the Flood. Produced by Fisher Stevens, this follows Leonardo DiCaprio around the world, showing the effects of climate change on different environments, and features comments by some very influential thinkers such as Barack Obama and Elon Musk.
Well-made documentaries and other educational materials are important, but there is concern that their impact might not be strong enough. With that in mind, the new innovations and developments in Virtual Reality are being used to show what climate change will really feel like.
Since the impact on the environment is not necessarily felt on a daily basis, it is hoped that these simulations will make people understand and internalise what is happening in a deeper and more meaningful way. If we all recognise the severity of the situation, we should all be motivated to work and make the changes that are necessary. The good news is, some of those changes are happening already.