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How Does Technology Impact the Environment?

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Increasingly, society is reliant on a variety of technologies across a multitude of sectors. Information and communication technology is the bedrock of banking and finance, recruitment, data processing and hosting, and various other sectors.

This, in and of itself, is not problematic. In most cases, digital technology facilitates greater efficiency and profitability. It drives innovation in the form of an ongoing virtuous circle. Now, we enjoy the use of cloud storage, instant communication software, and other innovations. But there are challenges to consider as well.

These technologies often exact a heavy environmental impact. In these trying times, where the planet is under increasing pressure from human activity, it’s clear that we must re-evaluate how we engage with these technologies. By acting with sustainability in mind, we can feel sure that we’re protecting the long-term health of the planet.

Why Does Technology Matter?

Technology is the basis for the advancement of society. Modern technologies have shaped how we interact with one another, how we transport ourselves, and how we buy and sell goods.

It helps us overcome issues in ways we never imagined.

Take blockchain technology, as an example. This tech acts as a digital ledger, recording and sharing information in a robust manner that makes it difficult to hack or cheat the system. This technology is most commonly used in finance. Transactions made using cryptocurrencies are maintained across several computers in a peer-to-peer network. Given the transaction values, it’s clear that comprehensive security is vital.

For many people, blockchain is an innovation that can provide financial security. It can deliver independence from untrustworthy financial institutions. The rise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency is something we’ve seen over the past decade and a half – and it does not appear to be slowing down.

The most popular use case of blockchain implementation with cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. Go back 10 years and you could buy Bitcoin for around $10. Since then, the price has exceeded $68,000. Needless to say, this meteoric rise has not gone unnoticed.

People who invested only meagre sums into Bitcoin in its infancy are now multimillionaires. Such stories inspire others to pour large sums into Bitcoin as an investment. The same is true for other popular cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum.

But blockchain-enabled cryptocurrencies are not just a way to invest your hard-earned cash. We are now seeing major retailers accepting cryptocurrencies as valid payment methods. Amazon, Lush, and Microsoft are a few of the companies where your crypto wallet will come in handy.

This burgeoning acceptance of cryptocurrencies is only the beginning. Eventually, it could see the technology become the foundation for most financial transactions. It is an excellent example of a technology that could have a transformational impact on society. Yet, there are issues that plague this technology as well.

blockchain

Many people don’t make a connection between the technologies they use every day and the deterioration of the natural world. It is only relatively recently, over the past couple of decades, that people have come to accept that cars and aeroplanes emit countless tonnes of greenhouse gases, which have a damaging impact on the state of the planet.

It might seem strange to think that something like blockchain-enabled cryptocurrency could negatively affect the environment, but that is what we’re witnessing.

Again, Bitcoin is the most obvious example. It requires large amounts of energy to perform the necessary computations for both mining and operation. In fact, Bitcoin expends more energy than the entirety of Sweden or the Philippines annually. This leads to a massive CO2 footprint – one that is greater than that of New Zealand! – and a variety of damaging environmental impacts.

It isn’t only cryptocurrency either. Many IT and communication-centric technologies present significant challenges for the environment.

Data storage is crucial in the operation of many modern systems and technologies. The problem is that the hardware required for data storage gobbles up large quantities of energy and electricity. The production and supply of this energy causes the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

With many modern systems reliant on data storage, this causes a real conundrum. The use of cloud storage – as opposed to onsite storage – has seen a major improvement in data storage sustainability. Still, we can and must do more. How can we continue to enjoy the benefits of such technologies without negatively impacting the planet?

These are the types of hurdles that we must overcome.

Finding Sustainable Solutions

It is clear that tech organisations will have to think with sustainability in mind moving forward. While technological progression is a must for society, it cannot come at the cost of the planet.

Luckily, many enterprising organisations are taking the necessary steps to move us in the right direction.