‘As Earth Day is about encouraging people to remember to care for the environment, the organisation behind it urges people to do anything they can to help - from volunteering and installing solar panels on your roof, to organising you own event or just changing a habit.’ Source; The Independent – Earth Day Quiz
In order to celebrate Earth Day in a slightly different way, I’m going to look at how technology plays a role in protecting the world. We have made and continue to make amazing advances in technology. Technology is not just for human benefit, lets see how these advancements are used to save and enhance lives, everyday in our World.
Let’s start with how technology is changing the world of our domesticated friends. Derby the dog is a heartwarming example showing that it’s not just humans reaping the benefits of 3D printing. Derby was born with two shorter, under-developed legs, which impacted his mobility. After being taken to the Peace and Paws Dog Rescue by his previous owners who could no longer care for him, Derby was fostered by Tara Anderson, director at 3D systems, a 3D printing company. After trialing a wheeled cart to aid his mobility, Anderson suspected her team of designers could do better. The designers at 3D systems began crafting a set of custom prosthetic legs that would help Derby to move more naturally and freely. After a few different trials, Derby was ready to try his finished set of prosthetics! Derby now runs freely using this technology and has newfound freedom of movement, the ability to run on concrete and the ability to play with other dogs too.
Our domesticated animals are not the only animals that need our technology. Prosthetics and Bionics are used worldwide. My example of this is ‘Beauty’ the bald eagle who was fitted with a life like prosthetic beak. After a bullet shattered in her beak, Beauty narrowly escaped a poacher. The prosthetic now allows her to grasp her own food, giving Beauty her independence back and a new lease of life.
As well as being able to change the lives of animals on our planet, we are able to reverse climate change and deforestation in a way we’ve never been able to do before thanks to technology.
Green energy includes the development of alternative fuels, new means of generating energy and energy efficiency. Solar Panels are a perfect example of how people can lessen their carbon footprint and generate electricity using the suns rays. Solar panels (PV cells) are made from layers of semi-conducting material, when light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers, therefore producing electricity. A typical Solar panel system saves over a tonne of carbon dioxide every year.
Now, earlier on I mentioned how technology can help to tackle deforestation. There are two ways we currently plant trees, by hand and by delivering dry seeds by air. Hand planting is slow and expensive, and dry seeds result in low uptake rates. Ex-Nasa engineer, Lauren Fletcher is planning to plant one billion trees per year with a fleet of drones. Fletchers company, ‘BioCarbon Engineering’, based in the UK, are developing a system for planting trees with drones for just 15% of the cost and must faster than traditional reforestation methods. The seedpods are encapsulated in a nutrient-rich hydrogel, for high take up rates. After planting, the drones will also be used to audit and monitor the reforested sections to check the success of the area.
Now, this is a very broad and non-exhaustive topic, and cannot be covered in just one blog post, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these technologies.
Happy Earth Day, not just today but every day!