Sustainability: 5 Innovative Trends to Make the Future Better
Sustainability: 5 innovative Trends to Make the Future better
Could you imagine a hundred years ago looking forward in time to today to behold the technology and the landscape? Would you have believed hundred story sky scrapers would exist? Time passes and things change. With so many people in the world however we have tipped the balance of sustainability. A hundred years from now people are suggesting there will be 11 billion people.
The temperature is expected to rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius which would make many regions uninhabitable as the sea level would rise significantly when ice shelves in Greenland and the Antarctic.
While the population is surely set to rise, many other predictions don’t have to. We can change our destiny, we just have to embrace several social and technological trends.
5 of the biggest things the world can do to make the place a little more sustainable.
1. Mega cities
I don’t mean the Judge Dredd kind. One of the biggest things to affect the environment is oil. Hello Exxon Valdez. Oil is dirty in its pure form, but after its been processed into gasoline it gets downright diabolical. While technology is coming to address this, building smart cars for everyone isn’t a solution. In fact, with 11 billion people that misses the point entirely. The carbon footprint of the vehicle in your yard is awfully big even before you start the ignition for the first time.
Travelling anywhere takes its toll on the environment. The best option is to move everyone into the city and reduce the cars on the road. In the city we have buses and trains and bikes or heaven forbid … walking. And yes, I do appreciate that the main holdouts to this idea will be the nature lovers who are concerned with sustainability as they look out their back door.
2. 3d printers
Everyone who has watched an episode of star trek knows what a replicator is. Ask and ye shall receive. A cornucopia of food at the tip of your tongue. And not just food, especially not just food. It may not materialize as fast, but 3d printing is pretty amazing. Forgot to pick up some Tupperware? Or perhaps you need a screwdriver. Or even better yet, did you put a ding in the side of that smart car? Having a 3d printer in the house will cut down on the trucks on the road. And the best part? Did your 3d printer break? That’s okay, because you printed a second printer for yourself the day before. Some day you will be able to print anything, even food. The only thing you’ll have to purchase is raw materials.
3. Green towers
Speaking of 3d, we need to get vertical. I’m not suggesting hundred story monstrosities mind you, the birds likely wouldn’t appreciate that. No, I mean just a few stories. Right now, we pretty much live in one dimension. One story houses are nice. They’re posh. But they’re really not efficient use of our space. It’s ironic that the less wealthy countries that have cities built on top of cities, with their citizens living with dozens of family members in small hovels, are more likely to be saving the earth. The population density of the more wealthy countries is too low.
When we go up, up and away or for that matter down under, we can achieve better density. But it doesn’t just have to be people. The biggest user of land going isn’t people, but agriculture.
Granted you see rooftop gardens and even a few high rise gardens, but we need to explore them more. Imagine going to the grocery store for your produce knowing that the lettuce and tomatoes that you’re buying didn’t come from 1500 miles away, but literally two stories up.
4. Virtual Reality
Google glass may be going off the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s disappearing. A true virtual reality technology could immerse a person just as much as a vacation. Then we’d have fewer planes in the air or cars on the road. Vacation isn’t the only use of course. I said last week that we needed to teach our children differently. Full VR would allow us to do it Matrix style. Students could learn the way they want to, their lessons taught in the traditional classroom or on the back of a dragon.
5. The Web of Things
While most people think that the web of things will be used primarily for marketing, what it really does is empower the consumer. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a car that you like or even a tree that you think will look perfect in your yard. With just a wave of your hand, your smart phone or Google Glasses will download the information you require because the web has grown. Everything will be tagged with an electronic ID so the information becomes readily available. Everything in the real world will come with its own hyperlink. There will be no wasted time trying to search for the information, it will just appear on your device. And that time is money. The web of things includes things that are currently tagged, but the day will come when everything will be accessible. It won’t just let you know a song, it will download the album. Like a book, you can buy it in an instant. Everyone will be empowered so we can move from the talking to the doing.
The future isn’t that far off. We can accept its inevitability or guide it forward, choosing a path of sustainability. Some choices will make that path easier to travel. Isn’t it our responsibility to explore them?