Friday, October 2, 2009

The Big Picture: Technology For Climate Change

While in Roskilde University I was introduced to project based learning, and it's exactly as it sounds. One of the first things Professor Tyre taught us was mind mapping - a technique of drawing lines and connecting ideas to see the bigger picture. The goal is to to cultivate the issue and find where you can fit a solution, which brings me too...

My Mind Map for Climate Change Solutions:

It was conceived a year ago and only now have I decided to put it down. Yes, it's small, but it's a work in progress.

Whenever there is a problem the consensus is technology will fix it. It's a complicated analysis, but for as many solutions that technology offers, it also can provide new problems. Too many examples to consider but the biggest one would be the car. When the Model-T first rolled out of Detroit the world was changed forever, people could make cross country trips in half a day, patients could be transferred by ambulance to hospitals quicker, and food could be shipped at a higher pace. Now nearly 100 years later the release of carbon from automobiles and manufacturing threatens the planet. Technology is helpful, but as I've described, if it isn't fully understood it can wreak havoc for us and our environment.

Global warming is our current problem, and if technology were the solution, we should be done, but we're far from it. When I first heard renewable energy was the solution to climate change I was relieved to hear that we have the technology to solve the problem, we're just not using it enough. We're also not using enough energy efficient technology like halogen lightbulbs, either. Supposedly, if the entire world would switch to halogen bulbs we would solve the climate crisis once and for all. If only we could. Back to renewable energy, how hard can it be to put up some solar panels and wind farms? Not very hard. We have the technology we need.
We just cannot just rush into adopting technology without fully understanding it.

For example, we can make a million electric cars to lower emissions, we have the technology for that, easy. But, what do we do 20 years from now when we have to toss out all those lithium batteries? I'll make a prediction and say it's going to harm the environment, and if it's in a landfill (likely) it will poison our freshwater supply. Did we consider the technology before we made it available on a large scale? Again, we have the technology to solve climate change, we just need to fully understand the drawbacks, it's sustainability, and discover repercussions ahead of time. We have the pieces of technology we just need to put them together in a system that covers all the bases. The right plan will require global cooperation between governments, business, and regular people. Let's understand the big picture because a global problem deserves a global solution.

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