As the earth is getting older by the day, there are a fair share of sad stories about the adverse effects of climate change in probably every country. The results include rising sea levels, floods, superstorms, wildfires, droughts, glacier melting, and the extinction of many flora and fauna species on land and in the oceans. The reasons for this climate change are global warming, deforestation, population explosion, ozone depletion, lack of strong environmental regulations, etc.
Environmental experts and governments are apprehensive about the earth’s future if climate change worsens. But there is indeed good news amidst this chaos, especially regarding the development of innovative technologies capable of combating these climate change challenges. Nothing pushes innovation like a crisis, and even companies that are highly criticized for making products that are ruining the environment are making an effort to reduce, if not wholly reverse, the damage. So, let’s discuss how technology can be our best ally in the battle against climate change.
Five technological innovations that could assist in the battle against climate change
It is a fact that nuclear energy is the best method of generating electricity that is free of CO2 emissions. But we still have to find the perfect way to harness it to ensure safety and make the process cost-effective. A Canadian company called General Fusion is set on being the 1st in the globe to develop a commercially usable nuclear-fusion-energy power plant. “Fusion generates zero GHG emissions, giving out only helium as a waste product. It also needs less land than other renewable solutions,” according to the firm. “Fusion energy is extremely safe, with no probability of a meltdown situation and no long-lasting waste, and there is sufficient fusion fuel to supply power generation on the globe for millions of years.”
The impact of blockchain can be witnessed in full flow in the financial sector. Similarly, the deployment of blockchain can also assist in combating climate change. The UN uses blockchain technology by creating a Climate Chain Coalition to conduct research and build innovative use cases. A use case implemented is carbon emissions trading. The technology can offer a decentralized platform for making carbon asset transactions. Companies can record their carbon emissions with full transparency through a distributed platform. Companies can reduce their carbon emissions drastically and can sell additional carbon credits to other firms. Through this approach, blockchain technology can incentivize carbon emission reduction in a transparent way.
Machine learning and AI
Natural calamities such as hurricanes and tornadoes can severely damage human life and vegetation in the forests. For example, the US has experienced numerous disastrous hurricanes over many years. Such storms can destroy the population of various tree species in the woods. After many such incidents, government authorities and forest officers need to gather information about how many trees have been badly affected.
For this task, forest officials can use machine learning to analyze the gathered data and identify the most affected tree species and the ones capable of withstanding such strong winds. Also, the forest department can capture images through drones and satellites that can be segregated and analyzed with the help of AI. Through this data, the authorities can build afforestation strategies and monitor their effects through the mapping of images.
Big tech companies like Microsoft have launched the AI for Earth program with dedicated funding of US$50 million for building and testing new AI applications to protect the environment. The program has provided 35 grants to more than ten countries for water conservation, climate management, biodiversity and agricultural improvement. Such programs will give rise to more commercial projects that can battle climate change with the help of AI and machine learning.
Producing the things we need for everyday use puts a lot of stress on the atmosphere. About 30% of global GHG emissions come from the industrial sector. But can we reverse it and suck out CO2 emissions from the air and convert them to something useful? Carbon Engineering is a Canadian start-up industry that does precisely what’s needed. They are sucking in the carbon dioxide gas straight from the atmosphere and then using it to create fuel. As per the firm, “Direct capturing of air can remove much more CO2/ acre of a land footprint when compared to trees and plants.” The firm is already running a prototype plant in Squamish, British Columbia. It is removing 1 ton of carbon from the air daily.
The GHG emissions from buildings are as significant as those released by industries. This is because we require lighting, heating, power, and cooling at the home, office, school, hospital, etc. The combined emissions from these locations contribute about 20% of global emissions. Therefore, building smarter cities is a viable solution to tackle GHG emissions.
Hence, a firm named Sidewalk Labs (part of Alphabet Inc., a parent company of Google) is using digital technologies to mitigate current pressing problems in urban areas. One of their major projects involves tracking how traffic flows throughout a city and how the congestion of hotspots might be mitigated. It could drastically reduce the amount of air pollution in most of our cities.
Technology by itself cannot mitigate a problem as complex as climate change. The only true solution is a global commitment by all countries and their governments to alter the way we manufacture, manage GHG emissions, and implement programs to reduce deforestation and other activities that can directly impact climate change. With the technologies emerging in the market these days, we are getting a rare opportunity for industrialists and environmentalists to put their hands together to combat climate change without affecting their financial well-being.
1. What are the leading green technologies giving hope for a sustainable future?
A: The top green technologies giving hope for a sustainable future are,
- New nuclear material
- Pyrolysis/Waste Sourced Biofuel
- Carbon Capture
- Electric Automobiles
- Artificial photosynthesis
- Molten salt storage
- Smart meters.
2. What are the benefits of green technology?
A: The benefits of green technology are
- Reduction in carbon footprint
- Control climate change
- Conservation of water
- It saves trees and other biological life
- Reduce air pollution.
3. Where can IoT be used in combating climatic issues?
A: IoT can be used in combating climate change in the following ways.
- Monitoring carbon emissions
- Reducing traffic
- Controlling wildfires & deforestation.
4. How can AI robots help in cleaning the ocean?
A: By combining the abilities of machine learning, drone technology, satellite data, and scientists, we can remotely locate plastic waste hotspots, quantify marine waste, and even identify tiny plastic pieces floating throughout the ocean.
5. What are the two methods of capturing carbon?
A: The two methods of capturing carbon are,
- Post-combustion carbon capture
- Pre-combustion carbon capture.
6. Which is the most efficient eco-friendly blockchain?
A: Cardano is probably the most popular among all the green cryptos and was the fifth-largest cryptocurrency at some point. However, as per TRG Datacenters’ analysis, its energy usage is around 0.5479 kWh.
7. Which are the best carbon capture firms in the world?
A: The best carbon capture firms in the world are
- NET Power.
- CO2 Solutions
- Global Thermostat
- Carbon Engineering.