A new commentary paper published in Nature Communications has taken a clear look at the state of our Earth’s environment using “Big Data”. Trends in this large dataset suggest that our watch is about to make the necessary changes. That said, researchers have reported “bright spots” and the opportunity to turn them around. Great for us to research an unprecedented amount of information about the natural world but it won’t help us unless it leads to a change in policy and political action, notice the team. We recently saw what political will can do a thorough research during the Covid-19 epidemic.
Lead author Dr. Rebecca Runting, from the University of Melbourne, said in a statement, “In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, we now see governments making quick (health) decisions based on fairly sophisticated data analysis.” “There could be opportunities to learn and achieve the same kind of engagement in analysis and decision-making in the environmental sector.”
Big companies already have the skills and technology to search for solutions, team writing and these must be shared and then governments around the world must be taken on board. Big data has been able to detect many dramatic changes in the environment. For example, 2.3 million square kilometers (7,000 square miles) were destroyed between 2000 and 2012. Meanwhile, 700,000 satellite images have shown that 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 square miles) of tidal waves have disappeared in the last 35 years. These and many other large dataset studies have revealed the plight of our planet.
Co-author Professor James Watson, from the University of Queensland, added, “The big data revolution has helped us understand that the environment is often doing worse than we thought. Antarctic ice sheets, wetlands, or forests, however, the more we map and analyze, the more we find the state of the environment. The big data tells us that we are running out of time. “The good news is that the big data revolution can help us better understand our risks. For example, where we see future ecosystem degradation and where these interact with wildlife trade, we can use the data to map epidemiological risk.”
Some of these technologies are already being used. From illegal fishing tracking to forest conservation, big data not only provides knowledge about the condition of our planet but can also be a tool of work. We just need to start using it more, the team concludes.
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