Saving the Rainforest with Old Cell Phones

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Rainforests have some of the most complicated soundscapes on the planet. In this dense noise of insects, primates, birds, and everything else that moves in the forest, how can you detect the sounds of illegal logging?

The old cell phone you have sitting in your desk drawer may have the answer. How do you go about saving the rainforest with old cell phones?

After a visit to the rainforests of Borneo, physicist and engineer Topher White was struck by the sounds of the forest. In particular, he noises he couldn’t hear.

While on a walk, White and others came across an illegal logger sawing down a tree just a few hundred meters away from a ranger station.

This incident set White thinking that perhaps the best way to save the Earth’s precious rainforest is to listen for its loggers and poachers. The innovation he came up with, Rainforest Connection, uses old cell phones to help to save the planet in a big way.

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) transforms recycled cell-phones into autonomous, solar-powered listening devices that can monitor and pinpoint chainsaw activity at great distance.

This changes the game by providing the world’s first real-time logging detection system, pinpointing deforestation activity as it occurs, and providing the data openly, freely, and immediately to anyone around the world.

For the first time on a scalable level, responsible agents can arrive on the scene in time to interrupt the perpetrators and stop the damage, and the world can listen in as it occurs.

It’s hard to feel like our actions have an impact in solving a problem like deforestation. We can choose to change our spending habits to stop the economic support of deforestation, but this doesn’t necessarily have an impact at the root of the problem.

We can, though, choose to support projects like Rainforest Connection!

If you have an old cell phone you want to give a second life saving the rainforest, you can send it to Rainforest Connection, and if the device doesn’t work for their needs, the donation will still go to supporting the project. You can check out how you can get involved with this project over on the Rainforest Connection website.

We all have a cell phone graveyard filled with the ghosts of technologies past. So, what are we to do with all these electronics? Finding ways to recycle our e-waste is great in the short term, but here is how technology is changing to become more sustainable.

Perhaps it is time to change the narrative about saving the planet. We need to feel empowered and the more we understand how our small actions can have an enormous impact, the more we engage others to do the same.

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