You may have heard about how 5G and big data are going to revolutionize our world. 5G technologies have the potential to enable many new big data applications that will substantially alter the way we live our lives. But what exactly are these technologies, and how will they affect us?
As the threat of climate change looms larger, will we eventually have to resort to more extreme measures to stop it? Geoengineering is one such measure that’s under consideration. It’s also sparking quite a bit of debate.
The first industrial revolution started in the 18th century, and most people know it as an era that spurred the development of the steam engine and contributed to more urbanization. Several other industrial revolutions followed, and a common thread among them was that each period had tremendous technological advances. We’re now in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). How might it affect the Earth?
Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, argues that it’s fundamentally different from previous revolutions. The earlier ones helped humans break free from their dependence on animals and gave them access to the digital world, plus furthered mass production. However, this era blends the physical, digital and biological worlds through a range of technologies.
Big data provides a promising solution to many of today’s most pressing problems. Interconnectivity and predictive analysis enable researchers and scientists to address issues that were previously beyond their grasp. As computational strength continues to increase, our capacity for problem-solving increases, as well.
At the current rate of progress, IBM estimates we’ll have access to 300 times more information in 2020 than we had in 2005. While many businesses use this info to inform marketing strategies and drive profit, it has applications elsewhere. Big data shows incredible promise in the fulfillment of sustainability goals.
In this article, we’ll detail the data-driven strategies that business owners and environmental organizations have used to improve sustainability. We’ll touch on the benefits of big data for both the preservation of the planet and a company’s bottom line, showing its potential as a catalyst for positive change.
Technology has the potential to have both positive and negative impacts on sustainability. It’s largely responsible for the high levels of greenhouse gases causing climate change. It’s also led to quite a bit of pollution. Companies and researchers, however, are also working to use technology to reduce emissions and clean up pollution.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that’s poised to have one of the most significant impacts on sustainability. McKinsey has forecasted that the technology, which consists of a vast network of internet-connected devices, could produce as much as $11.1 trillion in economic value annually by 2025.
An analysis of 640 IoT projects by the World Economic Forum found that 84 percent of them could help achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals — 17 goals adopted by all of the United Nations Member States to promote prosperity and protect the environment.
The IoT has the potential to impact sustainability both directly and indirectly. One area in which it can have a direct impact is environmental monitoring.
The aviation industry’s relationship with sustainability is somewhat complicated. Though industry leaders have acknowledged the environmental impact of air travel, progress is slow, and the damage is considerable. As of 2017, aviation was responsible for 11 percent of transportation-related emissions in the United States.
So how can today’s airlines affect change? Portuguese carrier Hi Fly has proven small changes are the best place to start, taking a significant step toward green aviation with the world’s first plastic-free flight. On December 26, they made a trip between Lisbon and Brazil without any single-use plastic items on board.
In this article, we’ll explore the implications of this simple, but no less important example of sustainability in air travel. As we examine the efforts of Hi Fly and carriers like them, we’ll show how the aviation industry is transitioning toward eco-friendly practices.
Many believe outer space is the next great frontier and that our current trajectory has placed us on a path toward the stars. It’s far more reasonable to say that our planet’s ocean is the next great frontier and that the future of exploration lies in the depths of the sea and not among the Milky Way, as so many people assume.
It’s a fair assumption, with the pace of progress and the investments of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. That said, we’re more likely to see a thorough mapping of the ocean before we see extensive space travel. With recent innovations like wind-powered ocean drones, this scale of mapping isn’t distant on the horizon.
We should examine today’s technology in greater detail, looking at the application of “saildrones” for fishing, drilling and environmental science. These drones have enormous potential to teach us more about the mysteries of the sea — let’s touch on a bit of what we’ve already learned.
Climate change is a global issue, and around the world, countries have organized renewable energy initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. These projects and programs reflect a society more conscious of its footprint, aware of the effect of carbon emissions and excessive waste on the planet’s health.
Though it’s a slow transition — and some are still reluctant to accept the change — the United States is moving closer to clean energy every day. While the president has made his position clear, state leaders across the nation continue to push for renewables as they distance themselves from fossil fuels.
Overseas, policymakers have shown the same dedication to preserving the environment, developing plans to decrease their dependence on coal, oil and natural gas. We’ll touch on a few of these ambitious initiatives and others like them, exploring projects in Tunisia, Nicaragua, Wales and China.
About one-third of the food the world produces each year for consumption by humans gets wasted or lost. In fact, they throw away up to $2,200 in food per year. This creates a financial burden for families as well as waste companies and municipalities that must determine what to do with all this waste. New York City, for example, spends about $400 million each year shipping the waste it collects to landfills and incinerators across the country.
This wasted food also has a significant environmental impact. It represents a lot of wasted resources — not just the food itself, but also the land, water and energy it took to produce it. Food decomposing in landfills also releases a gas composed of approximately 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, both of which contribute to the greenhouse effect. Landfills are responsible for about 14 percent of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.
There are various efforts underway to prevent this food waste and its negative impacts. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the nation’s food waste reduction goals, which aimed to cut waste by 50 percent by 2030.
As public concern over climate change increases, more people see the need for sustainable energy production. Traditional power generation relies on burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, a process which releases the warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar aim to produce essential energy without the carbon emissions.
The popular demand for 100 percent renewable energy, reflected in public opinion and policy in states like California, has lead to increased investment in wind and solar power in recent years. Despite growing interest in renewable energy, it remains unclear whether renewable energy alone can get us to a zero-carbon future.
Wind and solar power represent great potential for clean, renewable electricity. However, they may not fill all the world’s energy needs by themselves. Let’s examine wind and solar as a path to 100 percent renewable energy and consider possible alternative solutions.