Technology Can Solve Environmental Problems
Environmental conservation has become one of the greatest issues facing the contemporary world. The air, water, soil and natural resources are continuously degenerating because of the effects of pollution. The environmental problems have caused health complications, low agricultural productivity and-and destruction of scenic beauty. In the last thirty years, researchers have made tremendous efforts in technology to make a better understanding of environmental degradation. More time and resources have been spent to develop the technologies that can solve the problem of pollution. However, technology is one of the causes of environmental problems, technological approaches can sufficiently solve environmental problems. This paper explores the various types of technology and shows how they can reduce destruction of forests, animal and human diseases, and extinction of rare species.
The accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere is one of the most serious causes of environmental pollution. The modern technological advancements have designed ways of capturing, recycling and reusing carbon dioxide. The carbon engineering and thermostat technology captures carbon from the air and uses the gas in commercial and industrial production. Some of the uses of the captured carbon include the production of low-carbon fuels and making carbon soda. A company called Skyonic Corporation built a commercial carbon dioxide capture. The company projects to reduce up to 300, 000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The reduction of the emissions will occur through directly capturing the emissions from a cement plant and offsetting the gas by using it to create products such as baking soda. An idea conceived at Princeton University in 2003 and incubated for a decade has matured into a technology through which carbon dioxide can be captured and turned into Air Carbon. The material is used as a raw material in making carbon negative products such as chairs and phone covers. The reduction in carbon in the atmosphere will be one of the most significant steps to conserve the environment. For example, excessive concentration of carbon in the air causes acid rain which destroys forests. The reduction of carbon through this technology will reduce the destruction of forests and support the expansion of forests.
Nuclear energy technology can be utilized to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The technologies address the current environmental concerns caused by reactors such as waste and meltdowns. The technologies such as Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) designed by Trans atomic Power company and the Traveling Wave Reactors (TWR) are designed to utilize the conventional nuclear powers byproducts as fuel. WAMSR conserves the environment by using spent nuclear fuel that could be stored. TWR uses depleted uranium that could instead be used for ammunition and cause further damage to the environment. The two technologies prevent meltdowns such as those experienced at Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. When high quantities of uranium are emitted to the air and later dissolved in water, it causes cancer and kidney diseases to humans and animals. It also causes birth defects. This technology reduces uranium concentration in the atmosphere and, therefore, reduces incidences of cancer, kidney diseases and birth defects in humans and animals.
The solution-focused GPS is a technology that can be used to track wild animals and prevent human-wildlife conflicts or protect endangered species. Before the advent of technology, tracking wildlife was an uphill task. Strings were tied around the leg of birds to monitor if they will return the following season. Tracking systems have advanced since that period and have enabled collection of data to use in solving wildlife problems. The modern tracking system uses Google Earth in tracking elephants in real time. The data collected is used in creating migratory corridors based on the paths taken by the animals. The data is also used to set up a virtual fence that can notify wildlife officers when elephants approach areas such as farmlands. They can then respond by scaring the elephants away. Therefore, the technology helps to minimize human-elephant conflict by helping to minimize the contact of the elephants with the local communities. The technology also helps to conserve the endangered wildlife. The researchers at Drexel University use GPS to track leatherback turtles. These species are the most endangered in the Pacific Ocean. The technology helps to reduce the unintended killing of the turtles. The operators of the fishing vessels use the technology to identify the location of the turtles and they adjust their movement to avoid killing the animals. The phonological effects of the technology include conservation of rare animal species and preventing destruction of plants.
Endangered species can be conserved using the technology of drones. Environmental conservationists can monitor wildlife by quickly flying over the wildlife reserves to count the animals and notice poachers that hunt endangered species. The drones help to save human efforts which are directed to other time-consuming jobs. The technology is faster, more effective and efficient than doing a manual counting of the world animals. Further, the drones can monitor wildlife in vast areas across the globe. The use of drones prevents poaching and increases the survival of rare species.
Technology can be used to create better maps. The Google earth engine is used to collect satellite images and free Landsat data to create a global map that provides details of forest change. The technology simplified a job that a computer could perform in several years. The simplification of the work was possible by cloud computing through Google earth engine. The technology makes data available about forest change and supports formulation of policies that can prevent the destruction of forests.
Crowdsourcing offers great opportunities for conservation. The technology can be used to compile data about rare species. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department uses iNaturalist to compile this important data. The Fishnet project of the Center for Ocean Solution uses crowdsourcing technology to fight illegal fishing and pollution. Scientists also use Zooninverse to conduct research on climate and habitat. Crowdsourcing facilitates the collection and analysis of large quantities of data from different regions around the world. The World Wildlife Fund and other environmental organizations use crowdsourcing to enable the citizens to report illegal forest activities such as logging. Therefore, the technology empowers people to participate in environmental protection.
Air pollution is one of the significant environmental problems that have affected human health. Fifteen years ago, volunteers fanned across the city of New Yolk with instruments to measure air pollution. The stationery rooftop helped them to take measurements. The process was extremely slow. Surprisingly, studies conducted in New Yolk found that 1% of the city buildings emit more soot than all automobiles. A program called Clean Heat helps house owners to convert the emissions-ridden air into clean air. About five thousand buildings have adopted the technology and they now breathe cleaner air. The cleaner air prevents occurrence of respiratory diseases.
For a long time, people have used meters to check their energy consumption. Meters enable the reading of energy consumption once a month. A new technology called the smart grid system monitors residential energy with sensors that record measurements four times in an hour. The technology has facilitated the creation of the world’s largest energy database. This technological development increases the knowledge about energy. Sufficient and timely information about energy will help people to seek ways of minimizing energy wastage which will help to conserve energy. Energy conservation will reduce the damage to the environment caused by excessive exploration of energy through processes such as mining.
About 25% of global warming experienced in the world today is caused by methane. Though methane is associated with cows, leaks in the natural gas systems are a significant source of methane emissions. One can easily fix methane leaks if he can locate the specific point of leakage. Usually, a small opening can let out a large cloud of methane that the naked eye cannot see. Infrared sensors can magnify the cloud of methane and make it visible. Smoke alarms are the newest detectors that can make the leaks visible. Methane also leaks from natural gas distribution pipelines. Google Earth Outreach has attached detectors on street view cars to track methane emissions. The new method takes city-wide surveys to determine the impact on climate caused by the leaky systems. The system creates maps of the methane leaks. The system identifies about 2000 leaks in Boston per a mile driven. The highest leak emits about 60000 liters of natural gas daily. After this revelation, the old pipes were replaced with Indianapolis pipes. A survey on the new pipes showed one low leak per 200 driven miles. If gas leaks can be prevented, global warming can reduce by a substantial amount. The reduction in global warming can reduce the destruction of the environment caused by the effects such as melting of ice bergs and floods.
The technologies that track air pollution can help to reduce the cases of asthma. Louisville in Kentucky equips asthma patients with inhalers fitted with GPS units. Whenever the patients use the inhalers, the GPS sends a signal whose patterns can help the patient to identify asthma hotspots. Future steps to install street-level air quality monitors can enable the mapping of the inhaler usage data against neighborhood air pollution. The results can spur action to reduce the pollution. The data that directly link asthma attacks to air pollution across cities in the US can lead to lobbying for the need to clean up the air.
The environment around us is full of toxic chemicals. A study conducted by Embree, 25 showed that wearable sensors can illuminate chemicals that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Simple silicon wristbands can detect up to 1300 chemicals that people come into contact with in the course of their daily activities. A research conducted on the silicon wristband yielded shocking results. However much a person tries to avoid chemicals, they come into contact with about 15 different types of chemicals. Many of these chemicals potentially cause hazardous conditions on people’s m health including cancer and reproductive effects. If the sensors were abundant, sufficient data could be extracted to back up the fight against chemicals in the environment. The United States government should distribute these sensors to all people in the country to increase awareness of the dangerous chemicals.
The sensor technology has a wide application in solving environmental challenges. Water leakages can be prevented by the use of water meters. The minimization of water leakages will minimize water wastage and increase its availability. Congestion in the city that causes air pollution can be reduced by the use of traffic sensors. When vehicles are clogged in a traffic jam, they emit more carbon dioxide and pollute the environment. The use of the sensors will, therefore, reduce pollution. Ships can radio real-time fishing data to the shore to facilitate management of catch limits. Observing the limits helps to avoid depletion of the fish in the natural waters. A GPS-enabled tractor can monitor the use of fertilizers in farming and prevent excessive use of fertilizer. Excessive use of fertilizers pollutes the soil and water and a technology that monitors the quantities used will help reduce the damage to the environment. The world of information can become more powerful if people acquire low-cost sensors to provide data to citizens, the government and advocacy groups.
Technological advancements can offer solutions to most of the environmental problems faced in the current world. The carbon engineering technology can capture, recycle and use carbon dioxide to limit its adverse effects on the environment. Sensors can also be used to detect methane to facilitate designing of ways to absorb it from the environment. These two technologies would reduce air pollution. GPS-fitted tracking devices can help to locate the routes of endangered species and facilitate the conservation of the valuable wildlife. Technology also helps the efficient and faster collection and analysis of data concerning environmental problems, thus facilitates the process of finding solutions to these problems. Other environmental problems that technology can help to find solutions include soil pollution, accumulation of toxic chemicals and water leakages. When all other solutions fail, scientific and technological solutions can help solve environmental problems and reduce diseases, extinction, soil and air pollution and destruction of forests.