The Positive Impact Of Technology On The Environment

There was a period of time when people felt that advances in technology would be harmful to the environment. Some saw it as a threat to environmental stability; some felt it would eventually lead to even more energy consumption. However, with the advances technology has taken over the last decade, it has become very clear that it doesn’t always pose a threat to the environment. On the contrary, we are beginning to see many ways it could play a vital role in conservation.

As scientists reported in 2002, a revolution in advanced technology is what could eventually save the world from relentless global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. More so than diplomacy or politics, it is innovative decisions and forward-thinking products that could help the planet avoid catastrophe. That revolution, it seems, is here. Certain tech companies are starting to find ways to minimise our carbon footprint all the while reducing the cost of living for customers.

Digital Technology And The Environment

The digital revolution has helped prevent further damage to the environment in several ways. We have recently begun to see smart grids appear in countries across the globe that monitor and manage energy in a way that was previously impossible. They send individuals and businesses recommendations about their energy use through appliances that “talk” with the grid. It potentially allows people to know to what extent they are being energy efficient and the steps they can take to resolve it. There is nanotechnology developed by the likes of Dr. Ted Sargant too that could, in theory, use microscopic solar cells on your clothing to conduct energy and power electronic devices.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech world this year was Google’s multi-billion dollar purchase of Nest. This is a programmable thermostat that allows you to set your temperature via smartphone or tablet. There are also similar devices like Tado and British Gas’ Hive that can detect motion or allow you to program zones thereby reducing wasted energy when you’re away from home. These ‘smart home’ technologies provide a better control of the way homeowners use energy. They also provide better analysis and monitoring than you’d get from calling the likes of the British Gas phone number. But, most importantly, they are saving the planet. Generating heat makes up the most energy use in the world (47%) and it can be significantly reduced via these methods.

Is There Still A Long Way To Go?

While technology can indeed offset climate change, ‘offset’ should definitely be considered the operative word in this sentence. There is still a lot of damage that technology causes, and there is still a long way to go. Smartphones and tablets, for example, are two of the most popular tech items of the last decade with almost half of the American population owning one. But the mining of tin to make these devices is destroying sea life habitat and contaminating water. Furthermore, this harrowing video from The Ecologist shows how forest and farmland was destroyed to make room for a large scale mining site. This doesn’t quite complement the beliefs of Clinton Howell, the founder and owner of H2 Systems in Ontario, Canada, who once claimed that smartphones, are “saving energy and reducing carbon footprint”.

So can technology help offset climate change? It can, and it is. Digital technology is advancing our understanding of energy use so that we can monitor how we use it and therefore reduce it. But are the days of fearing its threat to environmental stability and energy consumption completely over? No. There are still important and necessary steps that technology and the people who make it need to take in order to work in harmony with our environment.