Why smartphones are vital to our environmental light bulb moment

If the mountain won’t come to Mohammad, it is said, then Mohammad must go to the mountain. Translating that into an aphorism for the 21st century, the human race is neglecting the important issues of the day, so they must be brought to us if we’re to be really aware of the environment, and the harm we’re doing to it.

Using a smartphone is like driving down a motorway; concentrating so hard on what’s directly in front of them, drivers miss a million small things that flash past their consciousness on either side. And the small things can ultimately become the big things, when one considers just how many people use a smartphone – and how many of those are addicted to them.

An estimated third of the people on the planet view the world through the prism of their smartphone ­ – and the number is rising. That means that a third of the people on the planet are in danger of missing out on things they perceive to be unimportant; the biggest of which is the environment, and the harm we’re doing to it.

But using the right apps, like some of the ones featured in this month’s app of the month blog, can help to reconnect us through the medium that is tearing us away from the world around us.

Some apps
Take iSeeChange, for example, or EarthNow. These are developed and built by NASA, and deserve highlighting in the month that the Space Agency landed a ‘ship’ on Mars, if only because they bring our attention back to Earth.

These apps use satellite-gathered data to show us the environmental changes happening around the world – and to log in, with the former, and upload real-time data from your own location.

Pack for a Purpose facilitates a re-connection with the places we travel to by highlighting things needed by charities at our destinations, and encouraging us to take those things along with us.

Not only does the action save the charities money, but t’s just about the most eco-friendly way there could be of taking much-needed items to where they’re, well, needed. Because you’re going anyway, the theory goes, delivery air miles are reduced, so your action of helping someone out is helping out the planet at the same time. A number of tour operators and accommodation providers act as drop-off points for your donations.

Their value
Whilst apps like the ones we’ve described have an obvious inherent value, there’s another layer of ‘value added’ to be gleaned from them. By bringing important issues up the agenda, which happens because the apps use the smartphone platform, the issues themselves enjoy a raised profile. This in turn sows the seeds of action and inspiration to make a change in a language that’s understood better in the 21st century.

Think of it this way: Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ is a book the majority of today’s smartphone users have probably never read (or worse still never even heard of). Were it to be published today, as an app in some form, how much higher up the awareness scale would it score?

Only be addressing people in a language they understand can we expect to achieve the light bulb moment of understanding. That’s always been true, but it has never involved the smartphone as much as it does today.