How Technology is Fighting Climate Change

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By Jessica Oaks

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, European Environment Agency, Japan Meteorological Agency, and the scientific community at large all agree: Climate change is real and predominately the result of human activities. Of course, the silver lining to this dark cloud is that if climate change is the result of human activity, then there exists the possibility of a human solution. Here are some ways that technology may help us fight climate change.

Awareness and education

Putting a dent in climate change and reversing the upward trends which have been witnessed over the past decade or so requires awareness and action. These solutions can help educate people on how to save energy which, in turn, can lower greenhouse emissions and carbon footprints.

Mobile technology

Mobile devices are everywhere, and charging these devices places a strain on electrical infrastructures. But mobile devices are also tremendously helpful – they put the world at your fingertips and connect people like never before.

Thankfully, modern mobile processors, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, are becoming increasingly energy efficient, and even offer features like Quick Charge to lessen their burden on electrical grids. Collectively, these improvements could significantly reduce carbon footprints worldwide. If mobile is here to stay, efficiency is key.

Mapping technology

From GPS technology for personal use to advanced satellite mapping for the commercial realm, today’s mapping technologies provide us with a wealth of information. Not only do our smartphones have access to mapping information that would have been top secret 20 years ago, but satellites are also providing unparalleled information on climate change, ocean temperature, wind and more, all of which helps governments and private organizations alike institute policies designed to mitigate environmental footprints.

Open data and open-source technology

Achieving technical solutions to reverse or mitigate climate change will depend in part on collaboration. Companies like Tesla Motors, which made its patents open source, help champion the cause of technical collaboration. But ultimately, corporations in the energy sector will have to follow suit.

There is some collaboration among companies researching fusion technology, but there’s always room for more. By working together, the spread and adoption of new technologies can be accelerated.

Alternative fuel technologies

Climate change and global warming is primarily the result of the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). As fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the environment – in 2014, the United States alone produced 5.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2 accounts for approximately 80 percent of total greenhouse gases). Reduce fossil fuel usage, and we reduce greenhouse gases. Alternative fuels could help us get there.

Self-driving cars

Self-driving cars have the power to reduce traffic, reduce waste, optimize driving patterns, and generally make travel to and fro more efficient – all of which can reduce fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

And self-driving cars, unlike rocket packs and flying cars, are actually possible – they’re on the horizon! Google is working on them, Tesla has already rolled out elemental autonomous functionalities in its cars, and car-ride services like Lyft are looking into them, too. The autonomous car could be just down the road, and it may help save the future.

Electric cars, hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles

Reduce fossil fuel usage, and you reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It really is that simple. And though electric cars aren’t truly zero-emission (after all, the electricity that powers them is being generated by power plants – this is known as “life cycle emissions” and it varies based on region), they do help limit greenhouse gas emissions to a single source, which aids in management and control. Electric cars, along with hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles like Honda’s fuel cell-powered Clarity, also help reduce total fossil fuel consumption, which lowers total greenhouse emissions.

Technology is the answer

Man-made problems require man-made solutions. From mobile processors that are more energy efficient and quicker to charge to electric and alternative-fuel vehicles that help cut down of fossil fuel consumption, technology allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and lessen our environmental impact. All that’s required for success is worldwide adoption. What part will you play?

Image credit: Flickr/Håkan Dahlström

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.

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