Climate Change, Environment, and Natural Resources Management: Pulling the Strings in Defense of The Earth
metamorworks @ stock.adobe.com
Global greenhouse gas emissions reached record levels in 2018 and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there is no documented historic precedent for the global economic and social changes required to limit global warming. It impacts not only the environment but also the economy, institutions, culture, and society as a whole. According to the International Institute for Environment and Development, risks are disproportionately affecting disadvantaged people and poor communities in developing nations. These risks are set to get even worse while the poorest regions are struggling to cope with current climatic shocks, let alone future risks related to climate change.
Monitoring & Traceability
As a consequence of population growth, rising wealth inequality, and unstable ecosystems, the humanitarian and financial costs of disasters related to climate and weather are rising rapidly and the importance of monitoring and predicting for the protection of lives, property and continued economic growth increases. Machine Learning tools and the increasing availability of meteorological data-sources are continuously improving the forecasting ability of both weather and natural incidents.
Blockchain-based global resources management systems could facilitate collaboration between international organizations, allowing better monitoring of environmental factors such as CO2 emissions and better auditing of countries with respect to internationally agreed-upon regulations. Pressure from below is also mounting as increasing consumer awareness and political willpower to fight climate change are creating a demand for transparency and traceability in terms of sustainable business practices. A physical-digital link between natural resources or assets and their corresponding identities on the blockchain creates a more transparent and trustworthy network for all parties.
Reduction & Reversal
One solution to the general problems of climate change, air pollution, water pollution, and energy insecurity requires a large-scale conversion to clean, perpetual, and reliable energy at a low cost, combined with an increase in energy efficiency. Fortunately, the cost of offshore wind, electric vehicle batteries, and carbon capture are falling faster than expected, increasing the competitiveness of clean energy strictly based on economic merit. Devices and techniques to recycle or remove carbon from the atmosphere, spread carbon-absorbing silicate minerals in the soil, or suck carbon dioxide directly out of the air are being developed and optimized, but not yet operational at scale.
The case for conservation and restoration of natural spaces could be made more compelling through identification of the protective functions provided by natural systems. In this sense, hybrid technologies that work in tandem with biological processes, for example by using microorganisms to eliminate or transform contaminants present in soils, water, and air, are attractive because of their relative safety and ability to co-exist with natural ecosystems. Despite this fact, they still lack concrete means of revenue and could present risks associated with the introduction of non-native organisms to natural ecosystems.
While working towards fixing the human-nature ecosystem in the long term, further patching of the symptoms of man-made problems may be necessary. Even geoengineering, through direct and indirect climate and weather modification, is being considered yet remains in its infancy and comes with its own set of risks. These methods are often related to the unknown consequences they could have on already strained natural ecosystems. This is only risky because the field of geoengineering is considered both brilliant and still dangerous, as some of these methods have been under research for a significant amount of time including Cirrus Cloud Thinning.
There is no doubt that natural resource mismanagement contributes to the vulnerability of human systems and exacerbates self-inflicted hazards as both the incidence and severity of climate-related disasters rise, highlighting the need for urgent and effective conservation or modification measures. Current and future resource availability is a political, economic, social, and environmental issue that can impact all stakeholder groups and society at large.