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Environment

Six Ways to Make your House Eco-Friendly

“Humans are the stewards of this planet.” You probably heard this before. It’s quite ironic that not only do we fail in doing our responsibility, but also act as main perpetrators of Earth’s destruction. In recent years, people are becoming more aware and cooperative in making their contribution to save Mother Earth. Green technology, environment-friendly practices, organic farming, and conscientious manufacturing are making the waves, targeting and attracting consumers who want to take part in ethical, moral, and responsible consumption.

Green and ecological practices are not only employed in economic and industrial settings. In fact, more and more families are becoming serious in applying eco-friendly practices to their own homes. While relatively expensive, solar energy is steadily rising in fame as the main source of energy and electricity in houses, because of its being renewable, i.e. unlimited, and the freedom from electric bills it gives. Rainwater collection systems are being installed in residential facilities to conserve water.

These are some of the ways to make your house eco-friendly, but there are other, simpler, and less pricey options:

Disconnect

Unplug whatever device or appliance, and switch off lights, when they’re not in use or needed. Open those curtains and let the light and fresh air in. Cut back on Internet exposure at least one day every week. You’ll thank yourself for cutting yourself off the drama and stress brought about by social media.

Repair

A lot of water is wasted if you don’t do anything to your faucet or pipe leaks. Similarly, damaged outlets or plugs, appliances, light bulbs, and devices may cause glitches which tampers the smooth flow of electricity, making it unstable, and resulting in sudden peaks in wattage and short-circuiting.

Conserve

From energy to water, to food, conservation must begin at your own home and spread to wherever you go. Every year, as much as 1.3 billion tons of food is either lost or wasted! Prepare meals that are enough for the family. Encourage your kids to not leave anything in their plate. Make something different and creative out of your left-overs, to avoid disposing of them even if they still taste and look good. If food has spoilt and needs to be disposed of, consider making your own compost pit, and produce organic fertilizer for your garden. In line with this, use available land spaces and pots for gardening. You can plant medicinal plants, herbs, spices, or vegetables (at least those that are easily managed) to make your home food-sustainable.

Be smart when conserving water. Don’t leave the faucet running while you wash the dishes or brush your teeth. Just put enough water in a glass or basin. Choose water-efficient shower bulbs and toilet systems to avoid using many gallons of water in one fell swoop. Be creative in using grey water, or water used prior for another purpose. For example, the laundry water in the washing machine can be used in cleaning and scrubbing the bathroom floors.

Invest

There are many smart-saving home accessories that you can invest in. One is a good insulation system that can store heat inside during the winters, to cut back on energy consumed on heaters. A smart meter is a recommended accessory to your A/C or heater. Smart meters can be programmed to turn on and off at specific times to prevent leaving the A/C or heater running if you ever forget to switch it off before getting out of the house.

Go Natural/Organic

Cleaning products, insecticides, and air sprays contain chemicals that may be irritating or harmful to human health. Worse, these chemicals may spread outside, either through your sinks and sewers, or outside of your windows, and contribute to the worsening environmental pollution. There are natural alternatives to cleaners and pest control chemicals that you can use to protect your family’s health and the environment. Specialists from Ecopure cleaning services in Jersey City recommend using a baking soda with vinegar, which is an excellent cleaner of white tiles. Citronella plant is a natural insect repellent and air freshener. There are many herbs and plants that you can place indoors. These are not just ornaments to pretty up your place, but natural air filter and freshener as well.

Support

There are many environment enthusiasts, hobbyists, and practitioners everywhere. Some of them create groups, events, and web pages where they present their activities, products, and other programs. Be a supportive brother/sister. Buy recycled goods, DIY crafts or organic crops that they produce. Join their events and learn more about their visions and missions. Spread their good vibes and inspiring endeavors.

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Environment Tech

Technology and Climate Change Adaptation

A major threat to our planet, climate change is something that affects everyone from across the globe. Every year, we hear about catastrophic news and tragedies from across the globe that are attributed to these changes.

While undoing the decades of abuse and neglect seems impossible, there is still hope. And technological innovations are vital in making our generation adaptable to the effects of climate change.

Recognizing the reality and imminent threats of climate change on our planet, world leaders have passed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2016. This historic accord gives hope to our planet.

Among others, the Paris Agreement envisions to reduce global emissions. But solving our climate problem requires more than just cutting emissions. Alongside cooperation from governments and world leaders, we need technologies with a lasting impact on our planet which will make us more resilient and adaptable.

These are some technologies that could help limit climate change and increase our climate change adaptability.

Weather forecasting technologies

Extreme weather conditions, such as typhoons, hurricanes, flooding, and drought, are among the biggest threats of climate change. And they are not just threats; we see them now in various parts of the planet. Weather forecasting can be tremendously improved with the aid of new technologies. Technological innovations in the field of software, satellites, and sensors can help make weather predictions more reliable and timely.

Supercomputers

As the need for real-time and more effective weather forecasting becomes apparent, supercomputers will come handy. Dallas computer support experts from Morgan Systems explain that faster and more powerful supercomputers are capable of processing an immense amount of data which can be useful in making real-time weather predictions.

Transport

The World Bank estimates that 23% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are due to transportation. They also project that the demand for transport will further increase in the future.

Technology can help revolutionize the way people move and travel. Although electricity-powered vehicles are already around, there’s still the need for further innovation to make these vehicles more commercially viable and road worthy. Electric-powered vehicles need more efficient batteries as well as battery-charging technology.

A very promising research from the University of Surrey has found new materials for creating a more powerful battery that is 1,000 to 10,000 times more powerful than the existing battery. These supercapacitors can potentially make electric cars at par with petrol cars, in terms of speed, power, and distance.

Power generation

Harnessing electricity from renewable resources can help significantly cut carbon emissions. There are different potential sources of electricity such as hydropower, wind turbines, solar power, and nuclear power (although we have to develop a cost-effective and safer way to harness nuclear power.) The good news is that investors and governments are now veering towards green energy.

Water purification

Droughts are among the unwanted effects of our climate problem. In addition, rising sea levels increase the salt content of groundwater making it non-potable and unusable. Water is life and the lack of it can prove fatal to communities. Advanced water purification technologies, particularly desalination technology, are seen to help address the increasing need for fresh water.

Sensors

Continuous and real-time monitoring of environmental changes is crucial in evaluating the impact of global warming. Sensors can help provide accurate environmental data. These gadgets can be strategically located in the atmosphere, ocean, flood zones, soil, and other areas that need continuous monitoring. Gathering accurate data is essential in developing solutions and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Manufacturing

Producing about 30% of global emissions, the manufacturing industry is a major contributor to climate change. Technology can tremendously improve the way we produce or manufacture things. More streamlined production processes that rely on green energy can significantly cut carbon emissions.

There are technologies that are aimed to get rid of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A Canadian start-up, Carbon Engineering, is working on a technology that would transform carbon emissions into fuel. Technological innovations such as this can greatly help remove unwanted emissions in the atmosphere, much faster than trees and plants can.

Flood mitigation technologies

As sea levels continue to rise and floods become commonplace, there is a need for vulnerable communities to look for technologies that will mitigate the impact of recurrent flooding. Some technologies include building homes on elevated stilts, cultivating crops that are resistant to flooding, and developing barriers around bodies of water in populated regions.

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Blockchain Environment Tech

Technology and the Environment: Why We Are Confident of Saving the Planet

Technology and the Environment: Why We Are Confident of Saving the Planet

We are undergoing a rapid-fire change where technology is molding the way we live, work, and entertain ourselves. Unfortunately, we are also threatened by the dark side of technological progress; global warming, depleting resources, fast urbanization, growing economic disparities, and the urban-rural divide. To the credit of mankind, emerging technologies like the Blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are impacting society and the environment positively.

We take a closer look at how technology, far from destroying our ecosystem, is saving the planet and securing the future for the coming generation:

IoT-Enabled Smart Buildings Use Fewer Resources, Save More Energy

It is estimated that by 2020 over 6 billion smartphones will be accessing the internet, and a bevy of amazing technologies will be making our cars, homes, and cities smarter. A machine, human, or animal; the whole package can be transformed into a “thing” connected to the internet. That’s the meaning of the term “The Internet of Things.”

As explained by IT specialists, IoT operates by connecting devices and sensors to the cloud. This permits devices to “talk” to each other and exchange information to get things done. For instance, while you watch TV, your wristwatch reads your body temperature and “asks” the air conditioner to optimize room temperature to make you comfortable.

The morning alarm not only wakes you up but sets off a chain of events. The coffee machine brews a warm cup, the water heater optimizes the temperature just as you step into the shower, tinted windows become a shade lighter to welcome the sunshine, and the electric car decides to charge itself.

Heat, water, and energy consumption drain 34 percent of domestic bills. The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to reduce utility costs to a tenth of that figure, creating a smarter and environment-friendly building with a lighter carbon footprint. We call this the “greening” of a building; making our homes, offices, and workspaces sustainable.

Swedish property developer, Stockrose, turned to Microsoft and created an Azure IoT Gateway connected to sensors within their maze of apartment complexes. With tenants and owners receiving real-time water usage readings, consumption patterns changed dramatically. It is estimated that Stockrose apartments will save $42 million in water heating costs in the coming decade. Now comes a brilliant takeaway – tenants consuming fewer resources paid a lower rent. This is a living example of technology actually motivating people to reduce their environmental footprint.

Blockchain Is Protecting the Pacific Ocean Fishing Industry

We love our fish, but do we know where it comes from? Illegal fishing practices, slave labor, and animal rights abuse is rampant in the tuna fishing industry. To put an end to these practices, the Australian, New Zealand, and Fiji chapters of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) used blockchain for building tuna supply chain efficiencies.

Special sensors fitted in registered fishing vessels scan the daily catch, and each consignment is geo-positioned using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. Tagging identifies the fish, the crew, the fishermen, and the fishing vehicle. The data is electronically encrypted in a blockchain ledger. Once recorded in the blockchain, data becomes tamper-proof.

QR coding continues all through the supply chain involving everyone handling, processing, or storing the tuna. The consumer buying the fish uses a mobile app to scan the blockchain coded tuna package. He gets a complete report on the origin of the fish and who handled it in the supply chain leading to the retail store.

As a WWF enthusiast put it, Blockchain narrates the story of the fishing crew, the fishermen, and their families, tracing the tuna’s eventful journey from “Ocean to Plate.” This is a momentous project encouraging sustainable fishing, and moving forward it has the potential to improve the quality of seafood supply chains all over the world.

Big Data, IoT Connectivity, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain Create Smarter Cities

It’s estimated that by 2050, approximately 66 percent of our population would have migrated to cities. Rapid urbanization means that a huge population will be concentrated in a smaller geographical area. This will increase the stress on resources and energy grids.

The solution is to create a smart city overlaying the city beneath. Roads, buildings, people, and every utility will combine into a unified, highly networked, more efficient, living, breathing organism. A person’s smartphone becomes the “node” connecting him 24/7/365 to the smart city surrounding him.

At the ground level, IoT enabled devices talking through embedded sensors will be pushing huge data to the cloud. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be assessing the data, detecting patterns of behavior, and doing a predictive analysis to help urban planners improve services. Instead of assumption-based planning, researched statistical data analyzed in real-time will be delivering sustainable cities.

Major innovations that’ll make our cities safer, keep them cleaner, and safeguard our health, even as we protect the environment

  • Sensors give real-time feedback and beep alerts on air quality, noise levels, street parking availability, and waste accumulation.
  • Smart Trash Bins alert collection points when they reach full capacity, and when hazardous waste is detected.
  • Electronic self-driving vehicles take over urban transportation. Car ownership becomes less attractive. Reduces congestion and traffic snarls.
  • The public transportation system and buildings run on renewable energy.
  • Bus stands provide route information and timings of buses, along with WiFi and USB charging.
  • Vertical farms help grow vegetables and fruits, and will also serve as “green lungs” for the city.
  • Smart lighting conserves energy when streets are unused and may be co-opted in neighborhood surveillance.

The smart city is a confluence of technologies delivering smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth through quality food retailing, improved waste disposal, uninterrupted drinking water, and the tapping of renewable energy resources in a big way.

Non-Polluting, Clean-Energy Generation, Storage, and Trading are the New Buzz Words

Generating power in remote areas and relaying it to cities involves losses in transmission and wastage at the household level. The future will see “Smart Grids” replacing traditional power grids. The Smart Grid encourages households to boost their green-energy flow. Households will access renewable energy by way of solar panels and windmills. Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack have the potential to solve the Smart Grid’s storage problems.

The renewable energy panels will be hooked up to a host of IoT enabled appliances, smart meters, and smart thermostats that’ll work efficiently while using power sparingly. There’s a huge takeaway: Excess energy is sent back to the Smart Grid for redistribution.

The Smart Grid uses IoT and sensors to generate big data. Machine learning algorithms then redirect the energy in real-time. Gradually, the Smart Grid will power factories, office complexes, apartments, and businesses. The Smart Grid will be drawing power from sources that don’t need it. It’ll transmit power in the right quantity at the right time to places that require it.

Renewable energy initiatives got a huge boost with a blockchain inspired platform – the Power Ledger. Power Ledger partnered with an energy corporation to improve Thailand’s green energy infrastructure. The Liechtenstein Institute for Strategic Development has similarly partnered with Power Ledger to kick-start renewable energy projects in Europe. Power Ledger is a blockchain solution attracting heavy investments in eco-friendly power stocks that are traded in cryptocurrencies.

The Electric Vehicle (EV) Encourages Pooling and Makes Car Ownership and Insurance Redundant

EVs run on electricity stored in batteries. An EV Hybrid will have both batteries and petrol, switching to either according to the need.  Batteries are topped up using external charging points sourcing power from Smart Grids. There’ll be cheaper fuel, lower maintenance costs, zero noise and emissions, safer parking, and hassle-free traffic control. Petrol pumps will transform into charging stations with large underground storage banks.

With automated driverless EVs populating the streets, it is estimated that over 60 percent of the commuting public will shift to inexpensive carpooling networks in preference to expensive car ownership and insurance plans.

EVs are integral to Tesla’s massive push to promote clean energy technologies, and the public response has been encouraging. Tesla is developing a network of EV charging stations, each connected to solar roof panels backed up by efficient Powerwalls and Powerpacks. In the future, we’ll see these charging stations connecting to Smart Grids.

The Bottom-Line: Technology is Rebooting, Refreshing, and Restoring the Environment

Will these efforts make a difference, and does it really matter? Yes, they do make a difference and it matters because mankind’s progress, stability, and prosperity can’t be built on a depleted and destroyed planet.  We need to leverage technology and change hidebound attitudes to reboot ourselves, refresh our planet, and restore nature to its former glory. Smartphones, Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Smart Grids, and Electric vehicles are technology gateways to the Promised Land that uses resources more efficiently to create sustainable communities – human and animal.

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Environment Tech

IoT and the Environment

Internet of Things (IoT) is conquering the planet, connecting millions of devices together, simplifying our way of life, and improving our everyday experiences. While it would be fair to say that the concept is still rather new, it has already made a big impact on different parts of our lives.

Since saving the environment is one of the goals most developed countries set for themselves, each innovation is being looked at from the eco-friendly point of view. What does the Internet Of Things have to do with the environment? Can it help us leave a smaller carbon footprint? Let’s find out.

1. Protecting Almost Extinct Species

What does IoT have in common with extinct species? More than you can imagine. IoT technologies help track animals on the brink of extinction and bring them to safety. For example, in Spain, the almost lost Iberian Lynx was re-established thanks to the monitoring and tracking technologies.

Scientists use collars for geo-mapping the location and habits of numerous animals. The information they collect from these wearables is priceless for keeping some species alive.

2. Smart Cities

IoT can help create what we call smart cities. Where all the devices are connected to one network, helping people plan their routes. IT experts believe that in the future, much less fuel will be used to move around the city since IoT can guide the vehicle owner to avoid traffic.

Smart parking will allow drivers to find a free parking spot immediately without driving around looking for one. Such an approach can help reduce our carbon footprint.

3. Smart Thermostats

Today, smart thermostats are widely available for anyone who wants to save money and the environment. These devices are moderately priced and easy to install. They track your preferences and behavior to adjust the temperature in your home accordingly.

For example, when you are at work, you don’t need comfortable temperatures in your home. The device lowers the temperatures and then increases them when you are on your way from work. Or vice versa, depending on the season.

4. Autonomous Cars

In the future, IoT technologies can help people create autonomous cars. The appearance of such vehicles will reduce traffic because they will communicate with each other and understand what others are about it do.

Autonomous cars can allow the traffic to move at one speed, thus keeping traffic and fuel consumption to a minimum.

5. Better Crop

Using smart sensors to monitor the weather, humidity, and other factors which are important to the crop quantity and quality can lead to substantial improvements in the agricultural sector.

For example, farmers could reduce the amount of water they use for watering plants if the sensor could tell them when such moisture is needed.

With the assistance of such sensors, agricultural workers will reduce the strain on the environment by using less water and energy to grow crops. As a result, the cost of food may decrease as well.

6. Stopping Poaching

Rainforest Connection used the IoT technology to listen to the sounds associated with illegal poaching. The sensors allowed discovering sounds of traps, guns, and vehicles in wildlife protection areas.

Since large areas are hard to monitor, motion sensors cameras have saved the day. Besides identifying illegal poaching, they helped find and find rare spices. The disappearing rhinos in Africa have heart rate monitors, cameras, and GPS trackers.

Even though the Internet of Things is highly beneficial for the environment, employing all the devices requires a big amount of energy. Today, many people are working on reducing the IoT energy requirements to make its impact on the environment even more positive.

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Blockchain Environment Tech

Blockchain and Environment: What’s the Correlation?

When we hear the word “blockchain” we imagine bitcoin, distributed ledgers, smart contracts, transparent transactions, and much more. People rarely think about the environment in connection to the blockchain. Meanwhile, the correlation exists, and it’s more obvious than some people may think. In fact, sometimes, it’s slightly disturbing.

In the way blockchain is used today, it has a substantial environmental cost. The key resource needed for blockchain to function is encryption. Encryption provides the security, which lies in the foundation of the blockchain. In order to prove that the user has the right to work with the chain, the system requires running complicated algorithms. These algorithms don’t just run on their own. They require formidable amounts of computing power. Such power comes at a certain cost.

The simplest and the most power-consuming example of using blockchain is bitcoin. The power required to keep the network running is enormous. Considering the market capacity of over $180 billion, the security is essential. Smaller blockchains consume less energy but the amounts are still formidable. The environmental implications of such use are unfortunate.

The usage of electricity is truly enormous. A year ago, the power consumed by the bitcoin network exceeded the power consumed by the entire Republic of Ireland. The demands of the blockchain grow on a regular basis. Experts from ibagroup.io predict substantial growth of the power use in the future. The bitcoin network alone uses over 42Twh of electricity per year, making it more demanding than New Zealand and Hungary.  Such consumption is similar to 20 megatons of CO2 emissions or 1m transatlantic flights.

Considering the growth forecasts and worldwide use of cryptocurrencies, blockchain’s effect on the environment could become dangerous. In the future, blockchain can cause climate changes.

While the energy consumption correlation to blockchain is hard to argue against, researchers have come up with a few ways blockchain can help save the environment rather than ruin it.

1. Recycling Programs

Recycling programs are rarely interesting to people. The responsibility for running them falls on the city government. Some smaller towns don’t have these programs at all. Tracking and checking the impact of these programs is difficult.

Creating a recycling program on blockchain may encourage participation since it can have a financial incentive.

Currently, there is a project RecycleToCoin being developed to help people exchange used plastic containers for tokens in automated machines.

2. Environmental Treaty Compliance

Tracking the impact of environmental treaties is often complicated. Sometimes the governments don’t keep the promises due to the lack of incentive. The frequency of fraudulent actions and data manipulation in that area is overwhelming.

Blockchain can keep the organizations and corporations from avoiding their environmental promises by making their actions transparent. Blockchain could track the environmental data and show where the commitments are met.

Storing documents on blockchain keeps them there forever. The global carbon credit scheme can be kept transparent and fraud-free.

3. Non-Profit Organization Tracking

When people make donations to keep the environment safe, it’s often hard to track where the money actually goes. Sometimes, corruption and bureaucracy send the funds to other channels. Blockchain can make sure the money is used for what it should be. The lack of a third party eliminates the disappearing of the funds “along the way”.

Blockchain can automatically send the money to the right parties and track the meeting of environmental goals. Today, there are two charities working with blockchain, Bitgive and Bithope.

 

Overall, the negative impact of blockchain on the environment is hard to overlook. However, it may help reduce our carbon footprint as well.

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Environment

The Effects of Asphalt and Concrete on the Environment

These days it’s hard to overlook the humanity’s wish to minimize the carbon footprint. All the developed countries are trying hard to save the planet without drastically changing the conventional way of life. Starting with environmentally friendly cleaning products and eco foods and ending with refrigerants, all products are subject to scrutiny.

Asphalt and concrete haven’t escaped the inspection as well. We asked experts from an asphalt repair company to tell us about the effects asphalt and concrete can have on the environment. This information might affect the opinion of homeowners who are contemplating pavement choices.

1. Heat Island Effect

This effect describes the higher temperature in urban areas than in the surrounding rural areas. While there are numerous reasons for this phenomenon, asphalt and concrete are among the main culprits.

The overall temperature of the planet rises due to humans leaving a carbon footprint. The heat island effect leads to the world getting hotter due to such structures as roads and buildings, which trap and reflect more heat than natural surfaces.

Research has shown that asphalt and concrete have the same heating properties, thus choosing one over another, based on this information, is not reasonable. However, the latest technologies allow the production of porous asphalt. This porous material allows lowering the surface temperature in the nighttime.

The heat island effect is far from being a black and white issue. While this pavement can increase the overall temperature, it saves people from spending more money on gas by offering them smooth and obstacle-free roads.

2. Resource Depletion

Asphalt is manufactured using petroleum. Concrete needs rock, sand, and cement for road strengthening. Mining, drilling, and obtaining the above-mentioned products require plenty of resources. In the past, producing asphalt and concrete pavement was a highly resource-depleting process.

These days, numerous industry renovations and new technologies have helped minimize the depletion of resources due to reusing the existing pavement materials to create a new one.

Even though the resource depletion is not as high as it used to be, the energy it takes to produce asphalt and concrete pavements is still formidable. So it’s hard to call the process environmentally friendly.

3. Water Pollution

In order to drain the water from the asphalt pavement, the roads and parking lots need drainage networks. When water flows over the pavement and drains to the ground, it carries considerable amounts of pollutants.

The polluted water runs to the municipal sewage networks, and eventually reaches lakes and rivers. As a result, asphalt and concrete pavement may pollute our water sources.

4. Harmful Gases

Petroleum-based asphalt has a high VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content. When the asphalt is manufactured, harmful substances are released into the atmosphere. The cement- producing process is not much different. It requires a substantial amount of energy and generates high VOC emissions.

Curing of the asphalt is even more harmful to the atmosphere. Once the paving is done, some companies use paints with high VOC content to mark roads and parking lots.

Even though asphalt and concrete have negative effects on the environment, there are some positive sides to using them such as:

  1. Asphalt is used for liner and caps constructions for landfills. It creates a barrier against potential leaks.
  2. Asphalt is used for lining drinking water reservoirs.
  3. Asphalt plants are reducing the emissions every year. Today they are considered a minor source of harmful emissions.
  4. Smooth asphalt roads reduce fuel consumption.

Cement plants are also working hard to reduce the environmental impact by using new technologies.