Monday, November 28, 2011

Green Teen: 5 Ways Technology Saves Endangered Species

Society's obsession with technology has caused us to lose sight of the damage we cause on the world outside of the computer--from pollution to excessive waste to destruction of animal species due to destruction of habitat. However, here's five ways technology helps when it comes to saving endangered species:

1. Analyzing people: A new predictive analytic software by IBM analyzes people and finds areas to target conservation efforts. By doing this, they can figure out which people to target and not waste their time talking to people who have no interest in conservation.

2. "Fish & Chips": Without technology, over-fishing would not have happened in the degree that it has occurred in these past few years (look at The Cove documentary for a look on how it affects dolphins). However, Barbara Block teamed up with Monterey Bay Aquarium and they are part of an important project of tagging up bluefin tuna and tracking them down in an effort to save them from going extinct. Bluefin tuna are on the brink of extinction. The project plans to find a balance so fisheries can still get their tuna for sushi without decimating the population.

3. Robotic deer: It hasn't saved endangered species yet, but it could in the future. The idea is simple: using robotic deer to catch poachers who hunt deer outside of hunting season. If it was used for tigers (which are due for extinction in 12 years if something isn't done!) or elephants, the plan would be even more helpful towards endangered species.

4. DNA Zip Codes: Every year, 80 million or so sharks die because of a human fetish for shark fin soup. Sharks are vital to an ecosystem because they pick off the unhealthy and sick animals. The more sharks in an ecosystem, the healthier it is. It has always been impossible to track down where the shark fins come from--until now. New technology has allowed scientists to discover "zip codes" in the DNA of the shark fins; "By analyzing part of the genome that is inherited solely through the mother, we were able to detect differences between sharks living along different continents - in effect, their DNA zip codes," said Dr. Demian Chapman, leader of the research team and assistant director of science of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. "

5. Barcoding DNA: the International Barcode of Life--iBOL, barcodes the DNA of animals across the globe to protect them from poaching or over-hunting. The project assigns a unique barcode to each individual species' DNA so that one day, anyone with a scanner can read the DNA and know exactly which species they have come across. This system can keep a watch on our food supplies and save species at the same time. Already, 87,000 species have been barcoded and 25 countries have joined in the efforts to build up the database. The project expects to have half a million species by 2015.

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