by Annie Oaks: Over the past decade, green energy initiatives have remained a key talking point in politics, but little has changed…
Until we abandon fossil fuels and stop the needless destruction of our delicate ecosystems, we will be sentencing our planet to a slow, painful death. Here are a few reasons why green technology is key to a sustainable future.
The Problem: Carbon Emissions
We know that carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases, and we know that the average global temperature is rising in proportion to the level of those gases in our atmosphere. Much of these emissions stems from the burning of coal and oil throughout our national power grid.
The Solution: New Energy
Solar energy is poised to dominate the energy markets by the early 2030s, which should help reduce the carbon in our atmosphere and consequently slow the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers, a process that will otherwise result in unsustainable sea rise. Unfortunately, that’s not early enough to make a huge difference.
Vehicles are another major source of carbon emissions. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is advancing quickly, and the Toyota Mirai is due out later this year. Tesla is also manufacturing cheaper electric vehicles which are more environmentally friendly than their predecessors.
The Problem: Rainforest Deforestation
Even if we were to completely halt our energy-related dependence on fossil fuels, we would still be contributing to climate change. The tropical rainforests represent two things crucial to curbing global warming. First, they produce massive amounts of oxygen. Second, they suck in and store the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. When we cut down those trees, millions and millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide end up remaining in the atmosphere.
The Solution: Metamaterials and Digitalization
The resulting societal need is obvious: we need alternatives to wood in order to build a sustainable future. Nanotechnology is providing us with metamaterials, which have properties found nowhere else in nature. They’re tougher and more durable, and we don’t need to wipe out the rainforests in order to manufacture them. New engineering techniques are finally being pushed forward in colleges offering degrees such as a master’s in civil engineering, and the next generation of students will learn how to build sustainability using these materials and even design new types of concepts for our buildings.
Even in 2015, hospitals still haven’t ditched the pad of paper in favor of digital referral systems, which are just now being developed. Not only is this inefficient and costly, it’s also unsustainable in the long-term. Many other businesses still use paper as well. We must digitize all information as quickly as possible in order to curb deforestation.
Although many of these alternatives are available to us today, we haven’t invested enough resources to replace dangerous technologies with those that will sustain us. This is poised to change in the next few decades, but we simply do not know whether that’s fast enough. The time to act is now, before it’s too late.
Source: 33rd Square