|Global Environmental Health Is Improving With Help from Telecom|
|Humpback whales left New York Bay hundreds of years ago. In 2011, there were five reported whale sightings. In 2017 people have spotted more than a hundred. The theories for the whales’ return range from cleaner water to a general bounce in population.
The humpback whale story is part of a larger, decades long trend of a rebounding environment through out the world. New Jersey is overrun by bears and deer. Farming has grown dramatically more efficient . This means that farms use less resources (land, labor, capital) to make more food. American manufacturing has been using declining amounts of raw materials for decades.
The globe is experiencing a massive reforestation known as “global greening”. The total biosphere on land growing by 2 billion tons or more a year. Satellite data show that historically arid areas, like the Australian outback, saw foliage increase by 11% between 1982 and 2010. This story is aptly told in a brilliant and technical essay by Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at New York City’s Rockefeller University. Despite all the environmental horrors we’re fed by the mainstream media… improving technology and efficiency are actually helping the environment get healthier. “[The declining use of raw materials] does not surprise us,” Ausubel writes, “when a single pocket-size smartphone replaces an alarm clock, flashlight, and various media players, along with all the CDs and DVDs.” He also points out that American carbon emissions peaked in 2007 and are now at 1990 levels again, thanks to technology and efficiency.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about this story is simply that few people even know about it! Even when we’re experiencing major improvements in our lives…politicians and media outlets focus on isolated or miniscule negative incidents rather than the positive, global trends. Pundits harp about how much time people waste on the Internet, rather than looking at the amazing and beautiful things it makes possible. For example, in 2015 a young Kenyan set the current African record for the javelin throw – 92.72 meters. He never had a coach. He learned to throw simply by watching videos on YouTube!
Universal access to information is just the start. Automated vehicles will eliminate most traffic accidents while optimizing traffic flows in real time to reduce frustrated commutes. One can already avoid going in the grocery store by ordering everything in advance. Soon, fuel efficient drones will deliver groceries – and takeout – to your doorstep. As we have learned and continue to learn, a connected world is an efficient world. An efficient world is good for the environment.