If you haven’t felt the heat yet, then you have been inside for too long. July 2016 was the WARMEST month in history and August is shaping up to take its place. In fact, 2016 is predicted to be the hottest year in recorded history. But, I am sure that we all know about this and have our concerns. Otherwise you would not be reading a blog on the Green Grounds website. I am here to dive into a few implications and projections for future years. Additionally, I will speak about how technology can solve some of the issues.
According to the Environmental Change Unit of Oxford University, various models predict average rises of 4.2, 4.0, and 5.2 degrees C by 2060. “Several experts worry that with global temperature and population increases, the earth will have a hard time yielding enough crops for this great number of people.” (Pittock 25)
4.0 to 5.2 degrees C may seem like an insignificant amount; however, this will have serious implications for the environment. Currently, the world is battling the elements in order to prevent a change in the climate of greater than 2 degrees C. However, this new evidence shows that we are going to more than double this precautionary number. What happens at a change of 2 degrees? Sea level rise, weather changes leading to severe storms and drought, destruction of animal habitats…we all have heard these implications. But what happens as the ice continues to melt?
Not only will it be a challenge to sustain agriculture as we have before, but much darker things can occur. As ice caps melt, scientists are becoming worried that new pathogens will emerge that could be fatal to humans. Additionally, the warmer atmosphere helps create an environment for disease spreading animals like insects to thrive. We are already seeing this effect with the Zika virus. Not to mention that liquid water takes up substantially more space then ice. A recent study says we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet (0.8 and 2 meters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast. How can we stop our cities from looking like this?
- Internet of Things:
Connected IoT products can lead to conclusions that we never thought were possible through the analysis of large amounts of data. IoT could provide the ability to facilitate a circular economy — a system in which waste is repurposed and products are designed for reuse at the end of their lifecycle. Devices provide massive amounts of information, which can help to optimize the amount of materials that can be reused. Objects in the IoT are embedded with chips and sensors, allowing them to be tracked throughout their lifecycles, which can enable designers and manufacturers to pinpoint exactly at what point certain components can be taken out of the waste stream and repurposed. Therefore, if we can track and save more goods, then there will be less waste, and less pollution created in the production of new materials.
- Applications and Software
When hasn’t software been able to solve our problems? The best way to get this point across is with an example. Food waste is a serious global problem. In fact, 25% of all the food we buy in America is thrown away in the trash. What if there was an application that could correct this problem? There is. Multiple developers have made applications that allow users to obtain discounted food from restaurants that would otherwise go bad. Therefore, food that would otherwise go in the trash is instead being consumed. Applications like this are currently gaining foothold in our current society, and could be helpful to reduce the negative effects of macro-farming.
- Energy Storage
Batteries are not a new concept to us, but when we look at batteries from a new perspective, the result can be quite interesting. Currently, when additional power is generated (from whatever power source) the energy is consumed by the people attached to the grid. However, if additional energy is created that is not used, there is no way to store it for later use. This means that a massive amount of energy is wasted if, for example, it is a particularly sunny day and solar panels create a surplus of electricity. Providers like Tesla are redefining battery usage so that additional energy from the grid can be retained and used at a later date. This leads to less energy production and would drastically reduce the amount of atmospheric pollution that occurs occurs from it.
These technologies are coming, and will change the way humans interact with the earth. Widespread adoption of the technology needs to occur, and with help from those are aware of it we can create meaningful impact.
Pittock, A. Barrie. “Climate Change and World Food Supply.” Environment November 1995 37:25-30