New technologies are gradually becoming essential to environmental protection. From the control of fishing to the monitoring of protected areas or urban sprawl, there are many applications and then technology vs nature discussion arises.
Knowledge of the state of natural and non-natural environments, as well as the dynamics of their evolution, is essential for environmental protection. The need to obtain precise information, at different scales, on these spaces implies the use of the most efficient means of observation. Here are some important observations about technology vs nature.
1. Varied and Constantly Evolving means of Observation
Satellite observation allows large-scale observations. It is particularly useful in the fight a g a i n s t land artificialisation and for the protection of biodiversity. The mapping of the green and blue frameworks (TVB) has been carried out using very high resolution spatial imagery and satellite radiometry. The extraction and processing of the raw materials necessary for the construction of these devices cause serious damage to the environment. In particular, the use of rare earths, like the lithium used for batteries, is a source of extremely harmful pollutant emissions. This one of the essential observation of technology vs nature.
When more precise images are required, other means of observation such as civilian drones can take over. These devices, which are currently in full expansion, can complement the observations made using more conventional means (airplanes, helicopters or microlights) because they can move in places that are difficult to access and consume less energy. However, their weakness lies in their reduced autonomy, as well as in their insufficient automatic data processing capabilities.
The examples of uses are extremely diverse technology vs nature. The Japanese Agency in charge of monitoring atomic energy in Japan and the Japanese Space Exploration Agency , has developed a drone to measure the radioactivity of Fukushima and to avoid the exposure of personnel. Gaz réseau Distribution France (GRDF) is experimenting with the use of these devices to diagnose energy loss in homes, using infrared cameras. Some farmers also use them to optimize their irrigation or their use of pesticides.
2. The Real Challenge of Data Processing
The valorisation of the multitude of data collected is a major step. This operation allows the synthesis of the information brought by satellite and aerial observations as well as those made by field personnel.
These signal and image processing activities require, like observation, a high level of technical competence. Motion estimation, identification, segmentation, classification and action recognition are real challenges due to the diversity of information sources and the complexity of observed phenomena.
The conventional techniques of signal processing being insufficient, a joint use of data processing techniques with the modeling of the observed phenomena is necessary. Through this effort of modeling, it is possible to operate a “data coupling” and thus to specify the information drawn from the observation, by using the scientific knowledge relating to the phenomenon to be analyzed. The extraction and processing of the raw materials necessary for the construction of these devices cause serious damage to the environment. In particular, the use of rare earths, like the lithium used for batteries, is a source of extremely harmful pollutant emissions. This observation of technology Vs nature is very important.
The Global Forest Watch website, which reports on deforestation around the world in near- real time, is a good example of the processing of data from different observation techniques. More recently, the Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l’environnement (CEA-CNRS- UVSQ) has contributed to the interpretation of spatial data and climate trends in a study conducted by the University of Albany (USA).
3. What is the Environmental Cost?
The use of state-of-the-art technology vs nature to protect the environment, while optimizing responses, also has an environmental cost. Putting satellites into orbit, and producing and operating airplanes, helicopters and drones all require considerable energy consumption.
Similarly, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for the control of observation devices, data processing and modeling is very energy intensive and causes technology vs nature issues.
The extraction and processing of the raw materials necessary for the construction of these devices cause serious damage to the environment. In particular, the use of rare earths, like the lithium used for batteries, is a source of extremely harmful pollutant emissions. This one of the essential observation of technology Vs nature.
Note that the environmental footprint of high-tech products is accentuated by their low collection and recycling rate.