High school biology - NGSS
Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation. Created by Khan Academy.
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- The biggest current problem with the solar panels, windmills and eco-friendly cars such as electric cars is that when it stops working, the waste from the sources are immense. The entire solar panels themselves aren't biodegradable, and end up being put in landfills. The wind turbines are also being put in these landfills even though around 90% of them can be recycled, and the lithium batteries from the electric cars not only take enormous mines to be made which greatly impacts the environment already, but the lithium is also being thrown away because it isn't recyclable. One day technology will improve enough, and we'll have better solutions, but currently, these solutions are just as bad as the problems.(4 votes)
- [Narrator] So I really like to snack and one of my most favorite snacks of all time happens to be bananas. I mean, you can have them in a smoothie, with some peanut butter, on some toast, in any way, really. And usually like most people, I just throw away the peels after I'm done eating, but did you know that banana peels and leaves can be used to make all kinds of things now? In fact, since over 100 billion bananas are consumed annually around the world, scientists have developed technologies that convert banana peels and leaves into useful materials that are also bio-degradable. For example, bananas can be used to make shoe soles, which is truly mind blowing. So a designer named Sarah Harbarth used banana peel waste to create a durable material called Kouri, K-U-O-R-I, which is used for everything from glasses, to belts, and even phone cases and shoe soles. Banana leaves are also used for making things like disposable tableware or containers. So in 2010, a young inventor named Tenith Adithyaa saw how banana leaves were going to waste and developed a technology that would preserve banana leaves for up to three years. And these could also be used to create biodegradable containers. So you're probably wondering why I'm rambling so much about bananas and as much as I love them as a snack, I personally think that it's even more awesome that scientists and engineers are creating useful, biodegradable materials out of them. Technologies like Sarah and Tenith's that help reduce plastic waste are super great for our planet and its biodiversity because they prevent more plastic microfibers from polluting our environment. And that's the great news. With science and engineering, we humans can create technologies that prevent ecosystem degradation, reduce pollution and improve sustainability. So let's take a look at a couple of other really cool examples. Since I live in the sunny all year long state of Arizona, it's not uncommon to see residents making use of solar panels here. So this kind of technology was created to allow photons, or light particles, to generate a flow of electricity. And since it harnesses energy from the sun, this kind of electricity doesn't require using fossil fuels. So this means that solar panels help limit greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming and pose a threat to the biodiversity present on earth right now. And even cooler for people who want a more sleek option to use for their homes, we now have this thing called solar roof tiles. So these are roof tiles that generate solar energy and isn't that so cool? Well technologies like this will only continue improving, which will help us combat climate change and preserve biodiversity. Now, if we drive westwards from Arizona to California, the chances are you'll spot these huge white windmills lining the Hills and windmills are another source of clean energy. They are designed to harness wind and convert it to electricity. So windmills function in a similar way to solar panels. thanks to the people who designed them, we have another alternative to fossil fuels, which is super great for our planet. And I could go on and on about all of the amazing new technology that's being created to protect the environment. Even now people are developing things like eco-friendly vehicles, buildings, household devices, even waste management systems. And as you can probably tell from all of these unique technologies, scientists and engineers have already found many different solutions to try and address environmental issues. But we also have to ask, "Are there any drawbacks to all of these new contributions?" Well, there are some cons that we have to consider. For instance, since these environmental friendly technologies, or green technologies are still relatively new ideas, we have to do a lot of research on them to make sure that the technology can make a significant impact and succeed, and that we minimize the environmental impacts that these technologies can have. So for example, solar panels can take up a lot of space and impact sensitive habitats. So we need to research ways to mitigate these effects. So this requires large amounts of money to be spent on researching and developing these technologies, which means that companies may be less willing to switch and pay so much for green alternatives. And the high implementation costs also means that at first consumers like you and me will probably have to pay higher prices for these technologies compared to traditional products. Going back to our discussion on solar panels, the drawback to installing panels at home is usually a higher price. So even though solar panels would save homeowners money in the long run on electricity, some consumers might not be willing or able to pay for the higher initial price. And last but not least, some people who work in conventional industries may go out of business or lose their jobs. So in order for the world to go greener, we have to figure out ways to protect these workers and businesses as well. So clearly there are many challenges that we have to address if we want to implement technology that's better for the environment, but there's plenty of pros to, seeing how scientists and engineers can do so much for the environment. With science and engineering we can come up with methods to save energy, reduce pollution, conserve our planet's precious resources, even feed more people and also create new business opportunities and jobs for people. And that's the great thing. Scientists and engineers and thinkers around the world can use our existing pool of knowledge to address some of the biggest issues of today. So to wrap up this video, today we learned that scientists and engineers can find solutions to preserve the environment and make way for a better future. So the next time you have a banana, or any fruit for that matter, spot solar panels or a drive by some windmills, I hope you can reflect on the fact that these green innovations start as ideas. So if you ever have an idea for a technology that you think can help our environment, you should write it down. It just might be useful one day.