TUNE IN: Taking Action on AI Today and in the Future

RSVP to join our online audience

In the News

Can Cell Phones Really Save the Planet?

Bracken Hendricks looks at how new technologies can transform development.

Sort of. It’s not the gadget that will make the difference—but what we do with it.

Last year, nearly one in four of the world’s six billion people lived in extreme poverty. A quarter of all human beings on the planet had no electricity. Nearly a third did not have reliable access to safe drinking water, and even larger numbers subsisted on wood and charcoal instead of modern fuels. Just under 800 million adults were not able to read or write last year. And, close to nine million children died before their fifth birthday.

Yet, in the face of these terrible unmet needs, the earth’s ability to supply more resources is already strained to capacity. Last year, global forests lost an area the size of Greece. Creeping deserts drained the fertility of the soil in thousands more acres, costing farmers $42 billion in lost income from dwindling harvests. Pollution from our homes, cars, industry, and mismanaged lands, burdened the atmosphere with yet another 30 billion tons of greenhouse gases, rendering the natural environment ever more fragile, less resilient, and stressed by our demands.

The above excerpt was originally published in Good. Click here to view the full article.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Bracken Hendricks

Senior Fellow