The news is filled with pollution reports, climate change notices, and dire weather warnings on a daily basis. It is enough to make anyone live in terror for their future and for the future we are setting up for our kids. Mashable put out a report a year ago detailing the “masked city” in China, a city where most residents wear masks over their mouths to keep from breathing in the near-toxic levels of pollution.
It would be easy to blame many of the technologies we have today for these problems. Cars are constantly spewing smoke into the air. Factories run 24/7, burning and melting toxic substances and polluting everything around them. Everything, it seems, generates some sort of pollution in its manufacturing or operation.
Blaming technology is too easy, though. Technology has likely saved many more lives than it has harmed. It will also be the thing most likely to save us from ourselves. Here are a few technological innovations with the potential to save the world.
Fuel made from algae
Yes, this is the algae that grows all over bodies of water and annoys people to no end. It actually has the potential to power everything we do. Algae-based fuel technology has been making headway since 2009, and there are actually vehicles in operation today that can run solely on algae.
Here is the best part about algae. Not only does it burn much cleaner than fossil fuel, it actually has the potential to clean the air as well. Here is how it works.
Algae is a plant, meaning it needs carbon dioxide to grow. This means that it is actually cleaning carbon dioxide out of the air while it is growing. Some experts think companies could grow algae right next to big factories, and the algae could actually clean the air while it’s growing. Once the algae is ready, it could then be used to power vehicles.
Smog cleaning buildings
Imagine if your apartment building could simply clean the air for you. It might sound crazy, but the technology actually exists and is being utilized in Mexico, a place not well known for its air quality.
There is a hospital in Mexico that uses tiles that pull energy from the sun during the day. They then use that energy to take in pollution from the air and convert it into less harmful substances. The tiles do this all day while the sun is out, requiring no electricity or labor. You can read more about how smog-cleaning buildings work here.
The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup is a project that has been talked about for awhile now. Many people do not realize just how much waste and trash is thrown into the ocean each year. This waste follows the currents and often ends up in the same place. In fact, in 2013, researchers investigated what is called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a 286,000 square mile patch of garbage that had collected in the Pacific Ocean.
The Ocean Cleanup project utilizes many different technologies to start cleaning up the garbage. Project leaders estimate that they will be able to clean up half of the debris in the ocean within 10 years. The technology actually uses the ocean to clean itself up, a novel concept that has drawn much attention. You can read about how the technology works on their website.
Yes, technological advancements are causing some environmental issues. However, new technologies are constantly being invented that can solve those problems. That is how humankind works. We solve problems, and when more problems arise we eventually solve those too. Technology that eliminates pollution, cleans water, and makes the world a better place will continue to come out far into the future. We just need to do our part and help where we can.