The Future of the World – Part 1

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The world is constantly changing, both for good and for worse. In our three part blog post series, we explore how the future of the earth will be like and how science is revolutionising our lives. In this first part, we’ll be talking about climate change.

Climate Change

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Perhaps the most concerning matter faced by everyone is climate change, which has been the talk of the town as industries – and countries on a larger scale – race to prevent the severe effects of climate change. At the same time, there are many skeptics that doubt it is a real issue, hence possibly hindering efforts to alleviate it.

What’s happening now

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Several news reports have emerged stating that the negative effects of climate change stem from some unexpected places. Did you know that streaming television and film services such as Netflix have an enormous impact on the environment? If you’re surprised by this news, you’re not alone.

An estimated amount of 1.6kg of carbon dioxide is released into the environment just from watching a show for half an hour through on-demand video platforms. This is almost equal to driving for 6.5km! In addition, more energy is wasted downloading videos as file sizes are larger because of increasing screen sizes and video qualities. In 2030 – a mere decade from now – streaming video servers will contribute to about 4% of the global electricity budget. 

In more unexpected and worrying news, some groups may be gaining from climate change. Take militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia, for example. Somalia is one of several countries in the world that are most vulnerable to the climate. Amongst many challenges, it has one of the highest average temperatures yearly, infrastructure damaged by strong winds, and persistent drought. Moreover, it has had years of civil war, leading to many displaced citizens and a decrease in food supply.

Because it is tough to implement laws and provide help, al-Shabaab has taken over and is providing aid. This, alongside people turning to organised crime because of economic hardships, has enabled them to become more popular and being able to recruit more militants easily including children.

Potential for a better future

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On the bright side, there are many organisations fighting to alleviate climate change and its implications. From hydrogen to flammable ice, a future running on clean energy is possible.

Scotland’s Orkney islands in the United Kingdom produces all of its power from clean energy. In fact, it generates more energy that what its citizens need. Since 2016, Orkney has been working towards a hydrogen-based economy in hopes to fully eliminate greenhouse gases (and air pollution) emitted by their transportation systems. With its only form of emissions being pure water, hydrogen can also be used for a myriad of other purposes such as heating buildings, industrial processes, and fueling vehicles like trains and ships. If there is an excess of hydrogen, it can be easily stored and transported.

Another promising innovation is regenerative agriculture – a sustainable approach towards farming. It encompasses building organic matter back into the soil, resulting in water stored in the soil and carbon drawn out of the atmosphere and hence enriching the soil and enhancing biodiversity. Regenerative agriculture can be carried out through several ways that include organic annual cropping, ecological aquaculture, and holistically managed grazing. 

Using hydrogen for energy and engaging in regenerative agriculture are both interesting ways to tackle how humans contribute to global warming. On the other hand, have you heard of how flammable ice can be the future of energy?

Flammable ice is also known as methane hydrate, a frozen mixture of natural methane and water. They are extremely difficult to extract as they are found where low temperatures and high pressures meet – mainly deep in the ocean floors. While Japan has found a way to extract it in hopes of being energy self-sufficient in the near future, there is still a long way to go to determine if this is a safe way to derive what is potentially our future energy source.

End of Part 1

Climate change is a complicated matter that is difficult to solve. But with the help from organisations and individuals alike, it is hoped that it can be reversed.

Up next: click here for The Future of the World – Part 2

 

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