It’s no secret that technology plays a large role in today’s society, and its place in our lives will only increase. Although there are many positives and negatives to this arrangement, one place where technology can really shine is its role in protecting the environment. There are several different new and upcoming technologies that can reduce humanity’s carbon footprint while maintaining the comforts and conveniences we are accustomed to.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, work-from-home arrangements became an extremely popular way to keep businesses running while complying with governmental shelter-in-place orders. Remote work offers many perks for employees, including more free time due to no commute, the ability to work while sick and being able to work around appointments or lack of transportation.
This arrangement can also benefit the environment. Widespread adoption of remote work means there’s less need for office space, reducing the need for new construction. Currently existing office space will have a reduced demand for energy, due to less heating and cooling, electricity and water. With more remote employees, there will also be less congestion and air pollution in urban centers.
A significant benefit of widespread remote work would be reduced greenhouse gas emissions from less fossil fuel usage. Remote workers often work from the comfort of their own home, or a local coffee shop or co-working space. This means they are traveling a lot less than full-time, in-office employees. This point has been very visible during the COVID-19 pandemic — the US has seen reduced emission rates due to state governments enacting stay-at-home orders.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are becoming an important part of today’s world, and their influence will only increase in coming years. This technology works by using “bots” or “digital workers” that can be programmed to do a multitude of tasks, and continue to learn and advance over time. AI bots can be programmed to track the amount and type of pollution in the air, on land or in water. This allows scientists to discover where pollution is coming from and where it is concentrated. This technology is also helpful to monitor companies that may be illegally dumping their waste into waterways, and if so, bring the offenders to justice.
Beyond monitoring pollution, AI can also enhance several “smart” devices. Normal household appliances such as thermostats, lighting and televisions use bots to detect when they’re being used, and how to optimize the amount of energy they use. Widespread installation of these devices can help lower energy bills for families and businesses, as well as reducing humanity’s carbon footprint.
This idea has been around for a while, but paperless statements and digital communication can go a long way when it comes to helping heal our planet. Utilizing paperless billing and communication with your bank and other companies saves the paper that would be needed to print a bill, as well as the fuel needed to physically get it to you. As a perk, many companies offer discounts if you enroll in e-statements.
Beyond paying bills, communicating with friends and family via phone calls or email saves paper, energy and time. Many, if not all news organizations publish an online edition of their paper, and most applications and documents can be signed online. This all reduces the amount of paper waste we create.
It’s well-known that during the 21st century, how we live and work needs to change significantly to help curb global warming and environmental destruction. New technology may be feared by some, but if used with other policy changes, such as using renewable sources for power, this tech can help reduce pollution and help heal our planet.
About the Author
Marie Johnson is a UX Designer and writer based in the New York City area. During her free time, she enjoys coffee, nature and spending time with her dogs.