Technological Humanitarianism: Tech That Can Save Planet Earth | Exhibit Tech Tech News
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Technological Humanitarianism: Tech That Can Save Planet Earth

Humans are an interesting species, to say the least. We are both causing and fighting ocean acidification, deforestation, and the changing climate landscape. While on one end we benefit from the rampant abuse of natural resources, we also campaign to save the environment which puts us in a dangerous dilemma. While the duality of human behaviour can be studied deeply in the philosophical realm, the fact cannot be denied that we will run our resources to the ground if immediate and definite action is not taken. 

Sure, cloth bags and wet/dry waste separation have now become a common part of our existence, but is that enough? Our efforts at the individual level might feel insignificant compared to major corporations around the world which suck up our resources leading to mass depletion. But, the good news is around if you look for it (& look hard) 

Corporations are surely getting in the groove and leading the change in the development of sustainable technology. Major companies have geared up and started incorporating sustainability into their operations. Whereas, various companies have also promised to become carbon neutral by the end of this decade. While corporations going carbon neutral is a step in the right direction, an ideal future is when the entire world becomes carbon neutral. In the current scenario, it sounds beyond achievable but the optimist in me believes that with the advancement of technology, humanity will reach this goal. 

So, what are the actual tech advancements that could bring about a sustainable revolution? Let’s explore – 

Plant-based Plastic 

Plastic is undoubtedly one of the most notorious polluters of the environment. The manufacturing of single-use plastic may have helped humanity greatly but it harms the environment at a greater rate. Initiatives are underway in India and around the world which completely ban or limit the use of single-use plastic. However, my ignorant self still gets annoyed when I get a paper straw with my McDonald’s drink. 

Plant-based plastics that are biodegradable are one solution towards a sustainable world. In theory, many plastic products already in circulation can be replaced with plant-based plastic. Many companies like Avani Eco in Indonesia are already at work creating bio-degradable plastic products. If biodegradable plastic becomes a reality in near future, then a lot of damage to the environment can be curbed. 

Solar Glass

Solar energy has long been touted as the future of energy consumption around the world. However, the technology has not gone mainstream as one would expect it to. In the current scenario, a solar panel is installed at the top of a roof which generates electricity from sunlight. However, what if every building or skyscraper could generate electricity for itself? That’s what solar glass promises. As the name suggests, solar glass is placed as a transparent window which can capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. 

However, a big issue with solar glass is efficiency. As of now, high-performance solar cells are capable of achieving nearly 25% efficiency. Adding transparency to solar panels results in decreased efficiency. If implemented at full capacity, solar glass has the potential to power 40% of the US energy needs. 

Fake Meat

Are you a meat lover? Does eating meat products brings satisfaction to your appetite? Well, then you’re also a contributor to a dangerous level of greenhouse gas emissions. It was back in 2017 when more than 15,000 world scientists signed a ‘Warning to Humanity’ calling for a drastic diminishing of per capita meat consumption amongst other agendas. The FDA has shared that livestock accounts for about 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Animals also use huge amounts of freshwater and the contamination from industrial livestock promotes local resources. 

The relief here is that fake meat is finally good! Be it ‘Imagine Meats’ by the Bollywood power couple Riteish-Genelia or Goa-based Wakao Foods that serves vegan jackfruit meat across the globe, the fake meat industry is finding its footing. The development of fake meat is a technological triumph in itself but its adoption among people due to its environment-friendly approach is worth crediting. 

Graphene 

Imagine Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Vibranium but in the real world, that’s what Graphene is! What can only be called a miracle material, graphene is thinner than paper, stronger than steel and more conductive than copper. Graphene is an ultra-thin layer of graphite which was discovered in 2004 at the University of Manchester and has since then been regarded as the next big step in the technological evolution of our species. 

It reduces electrode resistance and creates a high-energy battery having major applications. It also has great potential for energy storage and generation. Graphene is merely one atom thick having a wide range of planet-healing applications like water filtration, energy transfer, and much more. 

Artificial Intelligence

No, artificial intelligence is not just useful for writing your research papers! Sure, the concept of AI has been around for the longest time with pop culture depicting it as the end of humanity (maybe it is?) but it definitely is the future of computing having the potential to take us out of the dangerous position we find ourselves in. 

Microsoft has been running the AI for Earth program for a while now giving research grants to more than 200 teams using AI for planetary health. Biodiversity, climate, water, and agriculture have been the program’s predominant concerns. AI has the potential to become the shoulder humanity climbs on towards a sustainable future. 

In conclusion, a sustainable world powered by technology is not just a distant possibility but a near future. The traditional ways of running the world make big profits for benefiting from the system, but it is high time for humanity to adopt new ways. If not, we could be looking at a bleak future.


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