Topher White is a young conservation technologist. That is a wonderful field that I had never heard of prior to this terrific 10-minute talk on monitoring the rain forests.
An engineer with a background in physics and technology, Topher got the idea of using old cell phones to monitor the sounds of chain saws in protected rain forests. Deforestation accounts for the accumulation of more greenhouse gases than all the transportation sectors combined, and, significantly, as much as 90% of illegal logging is done in rain forests that are legally protected. Therefore, Topher surmised, during a trip to Sumatra in 2011, we have local people that love and value the forests, and there is surprisingly good connectivity for cell phones, especially at the forest’s peripheries where most logging takes place ~ let’s work with what we have to solve this!
The sounds of distant chain saws are often obscured by the life world forest sounds, yet a cell phone reconstructed to pick up chain saw noise, can send an email to the forest guardians who can then stop the logging in real time.
It’s positive. Ingenious. Essential. I know where our cell phones are going from now on! I’m in!