Finn: Tech for a greener world

Taylor Finn

With 2013 coming to an end, many magazines and websites are doing pieces on some of the best new gadgets and technology advances of the year. Some of the new gadgets on these lists will blow your mind, and the technology advances I was paying closest attention to were the ones devoted to helping make our planet a little healthier.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading about the latest sports bra that can calculate how many calories I am burning, and the new toy that can drive itself, but what I cared more about are the advances in “green” technology.

Sometimes I begin to lose hope, because many politicians, inventors and citizens in general put sustainability on the back burner. So many of us have this mindset that all of the problems we are currently facing with our environment will just one day disappear. I am not of that mind and I think that if change is not made, and if people do not start to invest in green energy and technology, we will be in for a rude awakening.

It is for this reason that I loved reading about technology being developed in this year that dealt with the issue of sustainability. Here are a few that I particularly enjoyed. The first is an Olympic-sized swimming pool that developers just finished designing, which would be located in the East River, off the coast of New York. What is special about this pool is that it actually filters the notoriously polluted river water, while also providing New Yorkers with a place to relax and swim. Once the funding for this project is completed, then the team hopes to have it floating by 2016.

Another “green” invention is Volvo’s new solar car. This solar-powered car would outlast its competitors because the solar panel is extremely large and flexible, so when the car is fully charged the panel folds into the trunk of the car. Like the pool, the final product is not ready to hit market yet, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

I try to be optimistic about the technological advancements being made in the area of sustainability, and projects like the ones previously mentioned definitely give me hope. Hope that some companies have the environment’s best interests at heart, and are willing to invest in the planet. What I worry about, however, is that we are running out of time, and if we want to drastically reduce the damage being done to the planet, we are going to have to start thinking bigger.

There have been many big ideas that are turning out to be very successful in helping the environment. Much of the “green” technology that was developed years ago, such as wind turbines and solar panels, are more widely used than ever. In 2013 alone, there were more than 550 major solar projects being worked on, and thanks to the Obama Administration, more than 16 large solar projects have been permitted on federal land. Google just announced that they will be investing in an off-shore wind farm, off the coast of Atlanta that will provide energy to 1.9 million Americans.

These numbers are encouraging and prove that the technology we currently have is working. If we can continue to be innovative and think big, I think we can expand and invent even more great “green” technology. I am looking forward to next year’s list of technology advancements and am hoping that 2014 will bring even more brilliant ideas about how to help us all live a little “greener.”