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Green Technology

What is Green Tech?

A Brief Primer

Green technology, also known as clean technology or sustainable technology, is about using innovation to help reduce the negative impacts of human activity on the environment. Rooted in science, green technology deploys high-tech solutions in the development of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, creation of energy-efficient products, application of waste reduction and recycling technologies, and advancement of sustainable agriculture practices, among others.

The Need for Green Technology
You don’t need to be a climatologist to know that something is up with our environment. From increasingly extreme weather events to record-breaking heat, the evidence of how our climate is changing is all around us. For some, it’s hard to accept or get on board with what needs to be done to combat these changes. Understandable–the easiest path is to keep living our lives in the way we have been. However, green technology presents opportunities to fend off the effects of a changing climate before the environment becomes unsustainable, protect the Earth for future generations, and actually help the economy in the process. 

The scientific consensus is that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary contributor to global climate change. GHG traps the sun’s heat, leading to global warming. The rise in temperatures over time has also disrupted weather patterns. The effects are becoming increasingly visible, with rising sea levels, more frequent and severe droughts, wildfires, and powerful storms. Coupled with human-caused deforestation and other environmental factors, there are risks to all life on Earth.

Most scientific work and technology in the energy sector focuses on reducing uses of non-renewable resources such as oil, coal, and gas and increasing development of green technologies, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. These renewable resources are much more abundant and can be replenished over time.

Child working on green technology

Increased air and water pollution from nonrenewable sources can have serious negative impacts on public health. Cleaner, green technologies, such as electric vehicles, can help reduce air pollution, while sustainable agriculture practices can help reduce the use of harmful chemicals in farming.

Ironically, the technology industry itself negatively adds to the climate crisis. There is electronic waste of discarded computers, phones and gadgets; depletion of natural resources like rare and precious metals used in devices; energy consumption and carbon emissions during electronics production and data center operations; water and air pollution occurring during tech production; and industry land use that can affect wildlife habitats.

To be fair, technology is just one industry that adds to climate change challenges. However, as big tech companies focus on their environmental sustainability, they may also be the best industry to help solve our growing climate problems.

What Does Green Technology Mean For You?
The impact of green technology on individuals can vary depending on their geographic location, profession, and lifestyle choices. For example, individuals living in urban areas may benefit from cleaner air and water as local governments and businesses adopt green technologies. Consumers in any location can benefit from energy-efficient products, such as smart home technology, low-cost led lighting, solar hot water heating or whole home energy generation, that help them save money or virtually eliminate utility bills. Even those consumers who do not install solar at home should see lower energy costs from utility providers that have fully converted to renewable energy sources. Farmers may benefit from sustainable agriculture practices that improve soil health and crop yields.

Probably the most hopeful advantage of green technology for individuals is the expansion of good paying jobs and a boost to our economy through new, green lines of business.

Green Tech Job Opportunities
Adoption of green technologies is creating numerous job opportunities worldwide. As cities, states and entire countries strive to reduce their carbon footprint, they are investing in clean energy, energy-efficient technologies, and sustainable practices. This has led to the emergence of a new green economy that is creating employment opportunities in various sectors.

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According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy sector employed 11.5 million people globally in 2019, a 6.5% increase from the previous year. The report also indicates that the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector could reach 42 million by 2050, creating new employment opportunities in various fields such as engineering, manufacturing, and construction.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) points out that new jobs in the clean energy sector will offset jobs lost in the fossil fuel sector by three to one.

Transitioning to electric vehicles is also driving job growth. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that the global electric vehicle industry could create up to 10 million new jobs by 2030. Skilled workers will be needed in the electric vehicle industry, in areas such as battery production, electric motor manufacturing, and vehicle assembly.

Green tech in the built environment is opening doors to new work. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure can create up to three times more jobs than traditional construction projects. These jobs include architects, engineers, construction workers, and HVAC technicians.

Along with job opportunities, green technology is promoting economic growth. According to the World Economic Forum, the resulting green economy could generate $26 trillion in economic benefits.

A New Way Forward
News about the climate crisis is now prevalent in most media sources. We will continue to bring you information about how green technology can help. As the United Nations has stated, the climate crisis is a race we can win. However, it will take fundamental transformations, and each of us putting some thought into how we grow our food, use land, transport ourselves and goods, and power our economies. We can make cleaner, greener choices, support nature and still have a good way of life, with the help of technology.

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