Lead author Rebecca Runting from the University of Melbourne’s School of Geography says that while we currently have an unprecedented ability to generate, store, access, and analyze data about the environment, these technological advances will not help the world unless they lead to action.
“Big data analyses must be closely linked to environmental policy and management,” Runting says. “For example, many large companies already possess the methodological, technical, and computational capacity to develop solutions, so it is paramount that new developments and resources are shared timely with government, and in the spirit of ‘open data.’”
The authors note that 2.3 million km2 (888,035 square miles) of forest were lost from 2000 to 2012 and that dynamic marine and coastal ecosystems have experienced similar declines. An analysis of over 700,000 satellite images shows that Earth has lost more than 20,000 km2 (7,722 square miles) of tidal flats since 1984.
With platforms like Google Earth Engine and the capacity of satellites to track and send information quickly to computers, big data was capable of identifying eco-health risks globally, says coauthor James Watson, a professor from the University of Queensland.
“What the big data revolution has helped us understand is the environment is often doing worse than what we thought it was. The more we map and analyze, the more we find the state of the environment, albeit Antarctic ice sheets, wetlands, or forests, is dire. Big data tells us we are running out of time,” Watson says.
Read the full article about data shows we are not saving the environment by Lito Vilisoni Wilson at Futurity.
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