Blockchain's Potential to Improve Environmental Sustainability

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Do you know that around 800 million people are currently vulnerable to many life-threatening risks like floods, droughts, hurricanes, heat waves, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events? Species are going extinct. Oceans are suffocating. Ice regions are melting. And the lives around us are at stake all because of our actions like deforestation, excessive carbon emissions, pollution, etc. At the same time, we are also seeing the convergence of the technological. biological, and physical realms. The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, and mobile application development technologies are affecting economies, values, identities, and possibilities for future generations. So, it’s high time for harnessing these technologies to address environmental issues and transform how we manage our shared global environment. In this article, we are focusing on the potential of blockchain to mitigate many existing and emerging environmental challenges.

When it comes to environmental sustainability, four qualities of blockchain count here:

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  1. Decentralization - peer to peer system with no intermediate channel to manage the data;
  2. Immutable records - the data stored in a blockchain is unalterable;
  3. Traceability - all public records are completely traceable from inception to expiry;
  4. Equity - equal treatments in regulations, requirements and distributions.

These qualities of blockchain come in handy in multiple ways in sustainable development. They help reduce bureaucracy and fraud, make organizations more transparent and democratic, track the movement of products and resources, and encourage people to adopt environmentally friendly practices.

Currently, six environmental challenges need imminent proactive action. They are climate change, biodiversity loss, natural disasters, ocean-health deterioration, air pollution, and water scarcity. So, let’s see how blockchain can mitigate these challenges.

Sustainable Supply Chains

Have you ever wondered if the products we buy from stores are produced in environmentally friendly ways? Even if you did, it’s impractical to get and verify such information. Because the products go through many hands before they reach us. So, who knows how they are made and processed? But, a blockchain-based supply chain system provides complete traceability of products from source to store with immutable records. For example, let’s say we are buying organic food. So, this system allows us to check if it’s produced organically and ethically, check where they dump the waste, monitor its complete life cycle and movements, and many more. Not only does this help us make better-informed decisions, this transparency can also put an end to many illegal and unethical practices in supply chain management such as illegal fishing, unethical timber cutting, illegal waste deposition, etc.

Saving Energy and Water

Do you know that there are around 1 billion people in the world with no access to clean water and electricity? It’s disturbing to even think about such a scenario, right? Well, it’s our reality. This is partly due to inefficiencies in the current resource distribution system. Many factors such as transportation loss, disparity in distributions, and illegal extraction contribute to this inefficiency. A decentralized resource management is the ultimate solution to this. it connects the users directly to the source, without the need of intermediaries. A decentralized energy grid can direct the energy from where it’s produced to where it’s needed with no tampering and leakage along the way. Similarly, a decentralized water distribution system enables us to check if the water is distributed as scheduled, check its quantity and quality, reinforce water conservation, and detect illegal extraction or water tampering.

Reducing Carbon and Greenhouse Gases

Carbon and greenhouse gases are the main culprits behind current environmental challenges such as climate change, chemical pollution, and ozone depletion, and so on. Although there are many rules and regulations to control these emissions, few people follow it strictly. So, companies can lie about their allowed rate of emissions and cause to aggravate many environmental risks. Blockchain can eliminate all these discrepancies by bolstering traceable and immutable records of carbon credit transactions such as carbon footprint and carbon tax. This will also encourage companies to restructure their business model to meet sustainability demands.

Protecting Biodiversity

Earth’s biological assets are facing unprecedented threats due to the violation of many planetary conditions. Reports say that one in five species earth is already on the verge of extinction. And we lost nearly 1 million hectares of coastal ecosystems over the past years. Blockchain’s applications can minimize these risks to a great extent. For instance, we can reinforce many environmental laws such as forestry laws, fishing laws, hunting laws, and pollution control laws and ensure that they are strictly followed. We can also monitor the pillars of an ecosystem such as lands, oceans, forests, resources, and species living in these habitats in a geospatial digital ledger. This way, we can spot and eliminate any illegal activities that can affect the healthy conservation of diverse species and habitats.

Controlling Pollution

Estimates predict that by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in the ocean than fish. Blockchain can encourage people and organizations to practice the right way of valuing and treating the materials and natural resources. For example, we can transfer cryptocurrency credits to individuals and companies as a reward for following sustainable practices such as collecting plastic from land and oceans, recycling materials, and saving water. Plastic Bank and RecycleToCoin are some platforms that do exactly that.

Proactive Disaster Management

The scale and frequency of natural disasters are increasing day by day, partly due to climate change. Natural disasters are often unpreventable. The only thing we can do is prepare for foreseeable natural disasters and manage real-time responses to repair their consequences. Blockchain can be very handy in these situations. For example, financing and coordinating immediate support and supplies to people in need in the affected areas. By connecting the suppliers and those who deliver the supplies with blockchain, we can track the movement of supplies to ensure that they are delivered at scheduled times in specific locations.

Final Thoughts

There is a great deal of incentive for these sustainability initiatives in the technology world. IBM’s ‘Call for Code’ initiative and Amazonia third way initiative called ‘Earth Bank of Codes’ are a few examples of that. Mobile app development also has a commendable role in popularizing environmental practices. Blockchain-powered mobile apps like FoodTrax, RecycleToCoin, EcoChain, SolarCoin are helping people embrace environmental practices. So, let’s just hope that these opportunities will encourage stakeholders to take action for a better planet.

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Blockchain’s Potential to Improve Environmental Sustainability. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/blockchains-potential-to-improve-environmental-sustainability/
“Blockchain’s Potential to Improve Environmental Sustainability.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/blockchains-potential-to-improve-environmental-sustainability/
Blockchain’s Potential to Improve Environmental Sustainability. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/blockchains-potential-to-improve-environmental-sustainability/> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
Blockchain’s Potential to Improve Environmental Sustainability [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/blockchains-potential-to-improve-environmental-sustainability/
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