Dr. Jane Goodall. Image by Stuart Clarke Photography.

Dr. Jane Goodall. Image by Stuart Clarke Photography.

Technology used to be seen in opposition to nature, but not anymore. Increasingly, we are seeing the ways in which technological advances in the areas of telecommunications, solar power and GPS can help the environment. Earlier this year, the inimitable Jane Goodall wrote about the ways in which technology can be, and is currently being, used to help in environmental protection and monitoring efforts.

Environmental monitoring has been radically transformed through technological advances made during Goodall’s eighty years. The
United Nations Environment Programme uses Google Earth and Google Maps to help determine some of the challenges facing our earth today, including our changing climate and how best to protect the earth.

How are ordinary people able to contribute to saving the earth through technology?

Here are a few highlights of ways in which individuals and communities have the ability to help!

Polar Bears International uses Google Maps API to track bears. Image copyright Kt Miller, Polar Bears International.

Polar Bears International uses Google Maps API to track bears.
Image copyright Kt Miller, Polar Bears International.

  1. Save time, money and trees - Organizations such as Minnesota-based Carver County Water Management Organization are using iPads to record information about water samples, and let their citizens know, real-time, whether the water is good to drink! Other examples of using new technologies to improve scientific research include tracking polar bears using Google Maps API.

  2. Work in your PJs -  Technologies such as Skype or FaceTime have, in many ways, eliminated the need for a conventional boardroom. Telecommuting has some real advantages for work-life balance, and also for the reduction of our daily carbon footprint! 

    This article from Forbes describes the merits of working from home, which include a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with hour-long commutes to and from the office. A study by Global Workplace Analytics notes that “half-time telecommuting could reduce carbon emissions by over 51 million metric tons a year — the equivalent of taking all of greater New York’s commuters off the road” (Kotkin 2013).
  3. Track your environment - Clad Innovations is working on a wearable piece of technology that will provide numerous benefits to human and environmental health. Users will enjoy being able to:

    1. Participate in tracking their own daily exposures to particulate matter in their homes, cars or bike routes.

    2. Stay informed about ways to reduce their exposure by greening their daily commute, using greener household cleaners, or using products such as HEPA vacuum cleaners to reduce air particulate matter in their homes!

    3. Be inspired to get involved in community-driven initiatives to help protect the quality of the air we breathe. Good air quality is paramount to human health - Tzoa wearers will enjoy the ability to monitor the quality of the air that they and those around them are breathing!

    4. Raise awareness about air quality issues in remote areas or industrial zones! By wearing their air quality monitor, Clad users will be able to draw attention to air quality issues that need solving, for our health and the health of our environment.

Tech is at the forefront of tracking changes in our natural environment - as well as coming up with new and creative ways to cut down on fuel usage and reduce our exposure to airborne pollutants!

How else is tech changing our relationship to our environment? Leave us a comment below.