Humans may have opposable thumbs, have invented the iPhone and put a man on the moon, but in terms of our contribution to the planet’s existential survival, we’re doing much more damage than good. The statistics are too hard to ignore. A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund revealed that it’s taken only two generations of mankind to kill off more than half the world’s wildlife. Coral reefs and rainforests, both imperative for balanced and healthy natural ecosystems, are under siege as well, and a new UN study concluded that nature on the whole is in the midst of an “unprecedented” decline.
Some more noteworthy facts:
- Heatwaves are now 30 percent more likely to occur in the UK because of climate change.
- Wildfires in California have spread fivefold since 1972.
- Cities are sinking at an alarming rate because of rising sea levels and dried-up land subsidence.
- There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than ever before in human history.
- The number of floods and heavy rains worldwide has quadrupled since 1980 and doubled since 2004.
The good news is, humanity has also come up with impressive technology solutions to help combat this problem, and here are a few that may literally heal the world.
From the automobile and travel industries to healthcare and government sectors, artificial intelligence is becoming less something you’d find in a sci-fi movie and more a routine part of our daily lives. Some ways in which AI can help fight the next natural disaster improving predictions of how much electricity we need, discovering new materials, optimizing supply chains and making precision agriculture possible at scale.
Some of these goals may sound a bit lofty, but AI can also make an impact simply by changing the way consumers shop. If AI bots like Alexa and Siri were programed to nudge users toward making more conscientious decisions, millions of individuals could do their part without even realizing it. These bots already make sure people get all their steps in for the day, so why not also encourage them to opt for greener choices? The same logic can be applied to advertising and digital marketing as well.
As iPhone’s early slogans boasted, there is now indeed a mobile app for everything you can think of, and some of them are trying to capture user attention to assist in environmental preservation. Online-currency company Kora, for instance, incentivizes users to purchasing eco-friendly products or select greener travel options. And French ride-share alternative BlaBlaCar allows users to carpool long-disance more efficiently.
The incredibly successful Beyond Meat IPO proved that food technology may be one of the best ways to thwart global disaster, but “green” food tech doesn’t have to appeal strictly to vegetartians and vegans. There are ways we can still consumer our favorite meat, fish,and poultry without contributing to the next destructive hurricane or heat wave. AquaMaof, as one example, is providing responsibly-farmed aquaculture practices for almost any type of fish.
Smarter buildings and smarter cities
Many municipalities have pledged to cut down on their carbon and greenhouse-gas emissions, but to meet those goals we need smarter cities to monitor emissions and proactively reduce them. So what solutions do we have? Google has announced a new tool to fight climate change, one that will estimate local carbon pollution from cities around the world in real time. And its parent company, Alphabet, also launched a project dubbed Sidewalk Labs that tracks traffic flow to determine how hotspots of congestion might be mitigated, this minimizing air pollution.
Now is the time to do whatever we can to curb the effects of climate change on our planet, and luckily we have technology to help us. From mobile apps and AI to constructing smarter cities that can “think” for themselves and continuing to invent and build new “greener” technology, forward thought and action is our best bet to help offset nature’s decline.