Technology is a driving force of innovation. Everything we build, adapt and refine, generally has the express purpose of making our lives on this planet easier. Whether it’s transportation, growing food, or the sending and receiving of information, technology exists to solve a problem or streamline a process. Nevertheless, the environmental cost of this technology is vast. For example, the average carbon footprint for the manufacture and use of an iPhone is between 55kg and 75kg depending on the model.
However, emerging technologies are reducing environmental pressures across the board. This is in part to large companies taking a positive stance on sustainability. For example, Nike has stepped up to the plate to show others that recycling on a large scale is possible with its Reuse-A-Shoe program. Web hosting companies such as 1&1 made known their own green efforts, demonstrating how their data centers are some of the most energy efficient worldwide, preventing upwards of 30,000 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere every year. Even in the banking sector, financial organizations are doing their share, as The World Bank has earmarked $16 billion to mitigate climate change in 2016 alone.
But a lot of credit is also due to ingenious inventions by lesser-known start-ups and inventors. These technologies operate with the intention of reducing carbon output, producing clean energy and depolluting water source; in essence, to mitigate the damage our current technological advances have caused.
Bladeless wind turbines
Wind turbines have been a staple of renewable energy for a while. However, for all the good they do, they are large, incredibly noisy, and not particularly friendly to bird populations. Vortex Bladeless is one company working on a turbine that leaves behind the cumbersome blades of conventional turbines. Instead, their models will harness power via the vibrations caused by wind. Two bladeless models exist for domestic and industrial use, and the carbon footprint is 40% less than traditional turbines.
Air filtration towers
Cities such as Delhi and Beijing suffer from very poor air quality. Daan Roosegaarde and Bob Ursem recognized this and designed a seven-meter tall filtration tower, which sucks in polluted air and expels it smog-free. Currently situated in Rotterdam, the tower is able to clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour.
Solar panels are nothing new, but tech mogul Elon Musk is taking it one step further. His solar energy company, SolarCity, proposes not just installing solar panels onto roofs to power homes, but instead to make the roofs themselves out of solar panels. As Musk himself says, “It’s a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof.” This technology, combined with the Tesla Powerwall – proprietary technology from one of Musk’s other endeavors – will effectively allow homes to exist off the power grid, and generate completely clean energy.