It is a general consensus that nature and technology are fierce enemies. In contrast, there is a growing number of biologists, environmental scientists, and other scientists who will argue differently. In their view, this assertion is a common case of “false dichotomy”.
With the advent of technology and our underdeveloped understanding of its full impact, nature has suffered tremendous sacrifice for human commodity. The consequences of those destructive events are resounding in the present moment even louder. However, a lot has changed since those times. Modern technologies are devised to “intentionally” create a positive impact, and are geared towards finding solutions to biggest global and local challenges. Furthermore, they aim to enhance human’s connection to nature. Apps, devices and gadgets are not just scientific and engineering tools anymore. There’s a growing number of nature-themed technologies being developed for nature lovers and activists.
Apps for Nature Enthusiasts
Recent data analysis revealed that there are roughly 6,300 nature-related apps available in the Google Play Store. Most of them were ringtones, games, and recreational sports and hiking apps. Still, there are also plenty of educational apps, such as LeafSnap or Merlin Bird ID, which are suited not just for kids, but for adults as well. These apps use visual recognition software to identify species using photos or recorded sounds. Another group of apps, that stimulates connection to nature, are Citizen Science apps, like iNaturalist, which allow user of any age or background to collect data for real scientists.
Technologies for Observing Nature and Wildlife
It all started in the early 1900s, when inventor George Shiras, often credited as “the father of wildlife photography”, strapped a clunky camera, encased in a metal box, to a tree and captured the first photos of unobstructed wildlife animals. His core concept and design of the trap camera remains the blueprint of scientific and commercial trap wildlife cameras. In 2014, scientists in Pakistan were able to snap the first photos of ever elusive snow leopards using trap cameras with motion sensors. Of course, the market is chock-full of inexpensive commercial wireless trail cameras for outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone simply wishing to keep track of those pesky little intruders in their backyard. Trap cameras have also been used to bring awareness to endangered animals, as well as provide you with a 24/7 live cam feed of panda cubs and bald eagle nest.
Technology Can Help Protect Endangered Animals
As mentioned earlier, there are still some misconceptions that technology is an adversary to nature. Well, there is, in fact, an abundance of examples that speak otherwise. These technologies are aimed at tackling the issues of preservation of species facing extinction, monitoring deforestation, and the most challenging issues related to global climate change and energy policies.
GPS technology and devices are no longer limited to the needs of humans alone. “Smart collars” with integrated GPS elements are currently being routinely used to track movements of endangered animals, as well as locating their hunting grounds. These tools are also of vital importance to conservationists who are working diligently to prevent and stop illegal smuggling and poaching. A good example are GPS smartphone-type devices for African elephants which transmit their location using local networks or via satellite. Additionally, there are gadgets that monitor wildlife sounds, collect samples and data, magnetic hooks that keep sharks away from the fishing lines, etc.
Drones have become a commonplace in environment and animal protection. Conservation drones are inexpensive aerial vehicles used to map specific animal group and the habitat they populate, as well as to collect data about deforestation and changes in biodiversity.
Biomimicry is “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” One of the oldest examples of biomimetics is Velcro material. Invention of the Swiss engineer George de Mestral, Velcro was inspired by the hook-like extensions on burrs of seedpods. Nanotube and nanowires, built on the cannula-like structure of the tobacco mosaic virus, are already being probed for new drug delivery systems.
So, the take home message is that this strongly opposing dualistic idea of technology and nature needs to be put into perspective. The technology is not exploiting or destroying nature, but the way humanity governs it. The irony of it all is that technology, itself, is the solution for the problems humanity has created.
via Dan Radak |
Dan Radak is a marketing professional with ten years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.