Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to the existence of life on earth as we know it. The extreme weather events experienced around the world this year are predicted to intensify year after year as we warm our planet. Climate change is already pushing many of our planets species towards extinction, as well as pushing many human civilisations into crisis.
The urgency of this issue is extreme. It seems that only now governments are starting to realise that climate change should be one of their top priorities. After all, it is the planet that gives us the resources we need to survive, and yet we are knowingly destroying that very life system. Although governments are starting to act, the action is very slow and often full of bureaucracy. It is difficult to see how this slow political progress is going to be enough to halt the impacts of climate change.
However, it would seem that individual companies and businesses are starting to take matters into their own hands. Offering some hope in the often depressing subject of climate change biology, companies are starting to come up innovative ideas that could combat future climate change. Individuals such as Elon Musk are pouring money into sustainable companies, Musk alone has created Solar City and Tesla which are striving to change the impact our lives have on the planet. There are other companies also trying to help change the future of our planet with new ideas and technologies.
Firstly, a company called BioCarbon Engineering are using drone technology to take advantage of a natural source of carbon mitigation. All animals on earth need oxygen to survive, we get this oxygen from the earth’s plant species. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen that we can breathe. Unfortunately major global deforestation is destroying this cycle, adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This company are using drones to try to plant a billion trees a year. Planting trees by hand simply cannot keep up with the destruction from deforestation. But by using drones, areas of interest can be found faster, mapping topography and soil type. The drones can then plant seedpods at an exponentially faster rate than before. This radical reforestation technique could be used to balance the destruction caused by deforestation.
Another example of a company making headway is Solar Roadways, Turning roads and walkways into super-powered energy generators. It is well known that our transport industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, however this company is looking into the roads themselves, not what is driving on them. The company is in the process of producing modular solar panels that can be walked or driven upon. These panels could create a system of “smart highways” that could power entire countries. Although in its early stages this idea could revolutionise the way we look at renewable energy, integrating energy production into our day to day lives.
Furthermore, perhaps the biggest contributor to global climate change is the livestock industry. Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are tackling climate change by building a better veggie burger. Getting people to give up their beloved meat is easier said than done. But these companies are now producing mass-market, plant-based foods that perfectly replicate the look, taste and texture of animal protein. Beyond meat have created a burger that even “bleeds” on the grill. Impossible Foods say their burgers use about one-twentieth the land, a quarter of the water and an eighth of the greenhouse gas emissions of a traditional beef burger. These companies promise a greener, cleaner way for people to enjoy their burger. Now we just need to change our eating habitats to match.
All of these companies are offering new ways in which we produce our everyday products. They offer hope for a brighter cleaner future. In the best case scenario, many of the developing countries that are rapidly growing can skip fossil fuels and other degrading industries and shift immediately into greener ways of living. We just need to make these new innovations cheaper and more accessible to developing nations in the hope that they can develop in a much more sustainable way than our countries did.
We can already see that countries such as China and India are starting to realise that they must develop in a sustainable way if they want to grow and protect our planet at the same time. For example in China they are producing the world’s largest floating solar power plant. Ironically being built on a lake that was created due to a collapsed coal mine, when completed the $151 million installation will generate 150 megawatts of electrical power. Chinas solar capacity doubled in 2016 and has now become the country building the most renewable energy plants in the world.
The western world must encourage the developing nations to not follow in our footsteps but too develop in a sustainable manner. We must give technological and finical help in order to aid this development. For example the company SunFunder offers loans to renewable energy plants in Africa in order to start up and start generating clean energy for its people. The developed nations have a duty to help restore and protect the ecosystems of which we have destroyed in our development, and to help others educate themselves on the need for a greener life.
It is easy to lose hope in the battle against climate change, however the future is not lost. If we start to change the way we go about our lives today, we can slowly see the planet regain its health. But we cannot just leave it up to the governments and companies to make the change. As individuals we must do what we can to live a greener life and help to protect the living ecosystems that we depend on.