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These days, more and more companies are making the move to become more sustainable. Only a few decades ago, the idea of environmentally responsible technology was seen as an oxymoron. After all, aren’t the ideas of industrial progress and sound ecological practices totally opposed? It might have been that way if a slew of innovators hadn’t had their way.
Now we live in a world where economic growth and sustainability are operating hand in hand and making life better for everyone. Here are just a few powerful reasons why technology needs to become even more eco-friendly in the coming years.
Contrary to popular belief, making our technology and infrastructure more sustainable doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, there are now distinct economic advantages to a green lifestyle. These advantages are set to grow in the coming years. One of the prime examples of this is solar energy technology.
In 2017, the price of commercial solar energy dropped to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour, three years ahead of industry projections. This makes solar competitive with oil for the first time in history. The technology itself is also becoming more robust and versatile, with solar panels available in multiple varieties to support independent power generation in both rural and urban settings.
Don’t forget the fact that governments are throwing their weight behind green tech with not only mandates but tax incentives as well. Currently, 22% of the cost of the installation of a solar power system can be a write-off on your federal income taxes, helping both homeowners and companies go off the grid.
That’s not an exaggeration. If our technology isn’t working with respect for nature, it’s working against nature. Since we all live on the same planet, that’s quite the problem. The most pressing issue in this regard is the release of greenhouse gases from power generation and transportation.
In fact, according to EPA statistics, those two sectors together accounted for 54% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States during 2019. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that carbon emissions are largely responsible for our planet’s recent (and dangerous) warming trend.
If we don’t do something to correct it soon, we face irreparable harm to the planet and to civilization. Scientists are not the only ones worrying. According to a 2020 Pew Research poll, about two-thirds of Americans think that more aggressive measures are necessary to combat climate change.
Even so, people don’t want to surrender their high-tech way of life to end this crisis. The good news is that thanks to the power of human ingenuity, we won’t have to. Advancements in materials science, such as increased battery capacity and photolysis-based hydrogen fuel generation are birthing a new generation of clean gadgets and infrastructure.
Building our technology in harmony with natural processes has proven health benefits. On a small scale, products like BPA-free plastics, organic food choices, and biodegradable soaps all help to cut the level of toxic chemicals entering our bodies. On a larger scale, designing the places where we live and work around ecologically friendly ideals can make immediately noticeable macro-scale improvements in wellbeing.
Two new schools of design are dedicated to making those impacts: Biomimicry and biophilic design. The former seeks to emulate natural processes. For instance, making carbon materials the way coral reefs do. The latter actually incorporates nature into the design of a space. It does so by using certain plants to filter harmful chemicals out of the air in an office building.
The payoff comes in the form of greater workplace productivity and overall higher quality of life. There’s a cascade effect at work here: the more we invest in green technologies at all levels, the more effective we become at operating our entire society in concert with nature.
The thing that environmentalists once thought would doom the world, technology, is now humanity’s best chance for a beautiful future. For that to happen, progress needs to happen with nature and not against it. And thanks to a new generation of technological pioneers, that future is closer than ever.
Author: Finnegan Pierson
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