Environmental protection is an extra urgent topic nowadays. Worldwide climate strikes, environmental law restrictions against big corporations, sustainability and global trend for being more eco-conscious lead to the increasing popularity of environmental technologies as a solution for climate change problems.
Environmental technologies are a future of our consuming society as they create an opportunity to reduce the negative consequences of the impact humanity has on nature. Environmental technologies offer less polluting and more sustainable ways of producing and consuming and help to conserve the natural resources by switching to renewable resources. Technology can help the environment reduce the negative impact of human involvement in nature and may be our chance to save the planet and our society from the global warming.
So, what are the technologies that help the environment?
Environmental technology examples listed below answer the main question: how does technology affect the environment? It is often said that modern technologies are the reason of the ecological disaster we face today. But what if they really helped instead of harming? First researches in green technologies started in 19th century in France, when Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. In 1860, August Mouchet proposed the idea of solar-powered steam engines. Later, in 20th century, the U. S., Japan, Denmark and others decided to invest in solar, biomass, wind and other technologies to wean themselves from fossil fuels.
The technologies in this article are getting more and more developed and pervasive nowadays. Engineers, biologists, chemists other scientists and eco-activists all over the world work everyday to encourage companies and governments to implement green tech and switch to renewable energy, recycling, smart homes, electric cars, etc. These technologies mean a lot in saving the environment and making our lives in new ecological circumstances more comfortable and healthy.
Renewable energy is produced from sources that can be restored within a human’s lifetime, for example, biomass, wind, sunlight or geothermal power. Renewable energy accounts for 13.5% of the world’s total energy supply, and 22% of the world’s electricity. Most of renewable sources directly or indirectly come from the sun. Solar technologies capture this energy directly while the sun heat drives winds and helps plants that later are used for biomass to grow.
Renewable energy is one of the most commonly used technology that helps the environment. Governments and businesses all over the world invest millions of dollars in it and create programmes of supporting the implementation of renewable energy, for example cutting the taxes for households using solar energy or for those who buy electric cars. Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, has promised some of the most aggressive emission cuts—by 2020, a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels, and by 2050, at least 80 percent. In 2018, for the first time in history, the percentage of the energy gained from renewable sources overtook coal in Germany’s economy.
Electric cars use electricity instead of traditional fuel. You simply plug into a charge point and the car takes electricity from the grid. Electric cars have rechargeable batteries that power an electric motor, which turns the wheels. It may seem easier to drive an electric car because the engine works faster than a traditional one.
This new environmental technology is constantly developing: the amount of miles served from one charge is increasing, and the whole infrastructure like charging stations and service stations is expanding and appears in many countries all around the world.
The global sales of electric cars reached 5,1 million in 2018 and continue to grow and beat new records every year. At the moment, the most popular electric cars in the world are Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3. Nissan Leaf costs approximately $44,000, depending on the market, and Tesla Model 3 starts from $35,000.
Unfortunately, while the majority of the world’s energy is not renewable, having an electric car still can’t be 100% sustainable. But it is beneficial for the environment and for your wallet because the amount of CO2 emissions is being cut, and the governments in some countries have reduced taxes on buying an electric car.
When we talk about technology and environment, one really unobvious thing is that we actually can make our homes more sustainable by making them “smart”. Buying new windows, insulating the house, buying smart plugs, etc. are some of the environmental advancements we can do to our homes to help the environment.
The best part is that being sustainable with a smart home doesn’t require any efforts from you! Smart home tech can be set up to make your house as “green” as it is possible. It keeps track of your energy use to decrease it and make it effective through automation, helps you lower the amount of water and electricity you use, which in turn reduces your home’s environmental impact. These technologies combine style and sustainability!
But they also create a controversion about the amount of technologies in our lives and using AI in our homes. Wouldn’t it be dangerous if we let robots control the heat and water supply in the house? What if the smart plugs break and there will be a fire? What if the AI goes crazy or the system is hacked? This controversion is being expressed in various popular TV shows and movies like “Mr. Robot” or “Black Mirror”.
Environmental monitoring is done by sampling and analyzing soil, water, or plants for evidence of contaminant levels over time. It is important for the environment because it helps to monitor and control the technologies impact on the environment and the human influence on it. Environmental monitoring can be used to find the solution for climate problems we face today.
The monitoring is done by taking the form of air, soil, and water and identifying their quality and the levels of pollution. Some methods require the collection of samples to be analyzed and tested in a laboratory setting. The form of chemical, biological, radiological, or microbiological testing is also being used in environmental monitoring.
Sharing economy is a model of economy based on sharing access to goods and services. The idea is that if the community shares the goods, it becomes more sustainable and consumes less. Today, people are using specific online platforms to join a sharing economy, which is an another example of technology affecting the environment in a positive way. Co-working spaces where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and work-from-home employees may work and spend less electricity and heat, fashion platforms that allow to sell or rent clothes, freelancing platforms, etc. are a part of sharing economy.
The majority of world’s freshwater is stored in glaciers which keep melting due to the global warming. That’s why desalination becomes more and more important in certain areas of the world. Desalination takes away mineral components from saline water or groundwater and turns it to freshwater. It may solve the problem of lack of freshwater and provide the growing population with it.
So, turns out that modern technologies may cause harm to the environment, but may also help a lot. Internet of things, saving wood because of digital and many more technologies previously listed in the article may change the world and make our lives more comfortable and green.
Kate is an environmental consultant specializing on green technologies and nature preservation techniques. She has more than 3 years of experience and worked with several non-profit organizations to save our nature from disruptive influence of people.