Green Tech May Not Be So “Green”

Can “green” tech reverse the effects of climate change or is it a second coming of the biomass industry?

Have you ever heard of “Moore’s law”? You may want to become familiar with it. Named after Gordon Moore, a founder of Intel, it says tech will double its capabilities each year. Moore made this statement way back in 1965. Now in 2024 computers are on our wrists, in our ears, and in our pockets. While Moore’s law of technology’s growth may have been correct, it missed the costs to our planet.

As technology becomes better, the impacts to our environment have never been more dire. Tech companies are producing more than ever in pursuit of more profit. And consumers are buying more. This cycle comes at a cost to our ecosystems, climate, and people’s living conditions.

Green technology

Enter “green technology.” Systems and devices used to reduce or reverse the damage done to the environment. Examples include electric vehicles, solar panels, and windmills. Investors and early adopters of green technology believe it’s the cure to many ills. Unfortunately, much of it brings more harm than it solves. Much of it is “green” in name only.

Electric cars

For example, electric cars have grown in popularity over the past five years. Companies like Rivian and Tesla fight to control the market but at the cost of safety. Many of the lower-tier Teslas experience safety issues that cause the cars to explode. These explosions put people in danger. They also release dangerous gas. This is on top of electric fuel stations that rely on coal-powered electricity to charge.

Solar and wind

Solar panels and wind turbines can be weather dependent. This can make them less reliable. Their use of renewable energy can offset starting costs. But they’re still very expensive to install and integrate. These factors slow their wider adoption. But like electric cars, these technologies also have a hidden cost

In 2022, a chip shortage caused delays in shipments of EV cars and devices that rely on them. This is mainly due to the rise in demand for electronics and conductors during the pandemic. Companies raced to meet demand. In doing so, they contributed to one of the most horrific humanitarian issues of our time. Cobalt mining.

Cobalt mining

The mining of cobalt in places like The Democratic Republic of Congo is a horrific scene. The work is often done by young children. Many dig through layers of ground and rock to collect the substance. This creates many health and human rights issues for those forced to work. All while destroying the lands and environment around the digging sites.

Does this mean all technology, green or not, contributes to environmental decay? Not quite. There are some green technologies that do what they intend and help offset the decay. Things like proforestation, sustainable agriculture, and electronic recycling can make a difference.

What can we do about green tech as individuals?

As individuals, we can make change in several ways. The first is to acknowledge that our technology is part of a cycle that enslaves children. The second is to stop over-consuming electronics. We can keep our devices for longer. Both the planet and your wallet will thank you.

This does not only rest on our shoulders as individuals. The tech that governments and big companies use causes the most damage. To our environment and our health. We must demand they change their practices. This is the only way to move technology towards creating social good.

Join the movement to protect our forests, climate, and communities.

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