How Sustainable Tech Innovations Help the Global Economy

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How Sustainable Tech Innovations Help the Global Economy

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Energy and technology are a essential to sustainable development. According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, 80 percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. Despite the surge in green technology over the past decade in the United States, the Institute for Energy Research puts the figure at 81 percent. The present system is unsustainable for a number of reasons: climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, the depletion of fossil fuels, rising energy prices due to increasing demand, and the threat of political instability in countries with large oil reserves. Simply stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its regulatory authority will not help with these underlying trends. The solution lies in the development of green technology, subsidizing it when needed as with electric cars, until it becomes competitive in the marketplace.

Let’s start with the scientific consensus that increased global warming will  devastate to the world’s economy and contradict green technology. According to a 2015 study published in the journal, Nature, unmitigated global warming will leave global GDP per capita 23% lower in 2100 than it would normally.

One of the biggest actions we can take is to promote and fund green technology and energy efficiency. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States increased to 35.5 miles per US gallon in 2016 (39 miles per gallon for cars and 30 mpg for trucks), a jump from the 2009 average for all vehicles which get 25 miles per gallon. These regulations were first enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1975 after the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargo, to improve the average fuel economy of motor vehicles sold in the U.S. They’ve had a big impact in promoting sustainable technology innovations and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The coming utilization of self-driving vehicles would hurt those whose only marketable skill is driving, yet this tech innovation can ultimately help the global economy. First, these cars will be safer, leading to less loss of life. Last year, 40,200 people died in traffic deaths in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. To put that number in perspective, that would be the same as killing every resident of Culver City, California, along with nearly 500 tourists or workers at Sony Pictures Studio. Also, think what we’d now be able to do with all the time we’d save by not focusing on the road. We would be free to create on a computer and make phone calls. Our green technology cars would be transformed into mobile offices. Finally, it  would lead to a healthier fuel economy.

Another area of green technology development that helps the global economy is the development of renewable energy based on wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and solar power, biomass, and tides. One often overlooked source of power generation is waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013, Americans generated about 4.40 pounds per person per day producing 254 million tons of trash, with a recycling and composting rate that was a bit more than a third. Organic waste comprised about a third of the trash that is collected in some cities. If buried in landfills, it breaks down into methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases. With green technology, 654 landfill gas recovery facilities have been built nationwide that burn the methane generated by landfills to produce electricity. This is one of the resourceful uses of waste we can produce – to generate electricity.

Sustainable agriculture has the potential to provide plentiful, affordable, quality food that promotes health, with less damage to the environment or the reduction of biodiversity. Green technology could be used to genetically modify crops without harmful pesticides, to increase yields and cope with higher temperatures, but only after extensive research and regulations. Green technology offers an excellent Return on Investment for businesses that look to “go green.” There are an infinite number of resources, imagination and creativity that are accessible.


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