Environmental Technologies that Impacted Sustainability Across the World
Over the last few decades, the term ‘sustainability’ has garnered significant cultural and political traction. We’re all increasingly of the view that human activity should have minimal impact on the natural world. In younger generations, this view is even stronger.
There are a number of ways we might do this. But among the more interesting involve the development of new technologies, and the expertise necessary to bring them to market.
What is environmental technology and why does it matter?
If a technology aims to conserve the natural world, either directly or indirectly, then it can be classed as green, or ‘environmental’ tech. This might come in the form of renewable energy, which can be sustained effectively indefinitely without any significant impact on the natural world, or through information-gathering technology that allows us to make the best use of the energy and raw materials we’ve already obtained.
You might put a wind turbine in the former category, and an internet-of-things enabled smart-home in the latter. In the world of motoring, both of these things can often be found in the same product: an electric car can run without the burning of fossil fuels, and often contains a range of efficiency-improving devices like adaptive cruise control.
If you’re familiar with smart technologies, then you might have come across the term ‘Internet of Things’. This refers to the ability of microchip-equipped devices to communicate with one another, and the manufacturer, over the Internet. This means that R&D data can be fed back so that the manufacturer can eliminate waste and persistent fault, and make improvements to subsequent versions of the same product.
Smart meters might be lumped into the same category. They feed consumption data back to the energy companies, allowing the load on the grid to be more effectively managed. They also report this data to the user, which incentivises lower consumption in the home.
Solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power all pose different virtues and environmental downsides. It’s likely that, in the medium term, the future of energy will be spread across these technologies.
Future environmental technologies
Other, more experimental technologies, like nuclear fusion, are still a way away. While it might seem like the electric car is imminent as a mainstream proposition, there are still considerable hurdles to overcome there, too.
At the moment, we’re seeing considerable hype in the worlds of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and these might be leveraged to analyse energy consumption and to discover novel ways of managing and reducing it.
Finally, we should consider the role played by new batteries, which might soon become compact and capacious enough to store energy in large amounts in the home, and allow for problems of intermittency inherent in renewable technologies to be overcome.