I clearly need to do some reading before I can start to understand how to use this. Still, what use is a day without a challenge?
The key point about cost is that most people, throughout the world, are being impacted by climate change, environmental pollution and over-exploitation yet have little or no power to influence their own futures because crucial information is either missing or unavailable to them.
They don’t want to be part of the problem yet what choice do most of them have?
Here’s one example: to the north of Kuala Selangor, in Malaysia (around 3.6N 101.2E) is an area of about 60km^2 of peat swamp. I’ve been working there over the last few years, looking at changes to the soil. Around the fringes are about a further 20km^2 of former swamp now in cultivation, much of it for oil palm. In order to grow the palm trees the area has been drained and, as a result, the peat is being destroyed - much of it ending up back in the atmosphere to feed global warming.
Some of these palm plantations are the property of small family farmers who have as a result, for the first time, enough money to live comfortable lives and see their children educated. They are very far from comfortable by US or European standards but, nonetheless, for them oil palm has been revolutionary.
Yet unless water levels in the peat are allowed to rise towards the surface the peat loss is going to accelerate. The farmers have no choice at present but to keep water levels low because they have only limited means to control water flow. What they need is some way to monitor ground water levels at regular intervals so they can manage the drainage and raise water levels without harming the trees on which they depend.
And that’s where we come in. The farmers can’t afford expensive monitoring systems so such systems must be very cheap indeed or they simply won’t be installed - and nothing will change. Yes, we can probably raise money through donations to help start the installations but, wonderful as this is, it still leaves the farmers without control. It’s not that they want to see their environments damaged - and their kids are pressing them to become more engaged with the environment - but farmers all over the world feel strongly about their relation to their land and decades of fieldwork with farming communities have taught me to respect that and work with it rather than against it, or in spite of it.
One day we’ll price carbon accurately and saving the peat lands will become an economic no-brainer. Until then we have to get those sensor nodes as close to $20 each as we can or they simply aren’t going to happen.
There are many other examples in many other contexts, close to me in the UK and all over the world. My own town is at risk of flooding from a combination of changing rainfall patterns and sea-level rise so getting a network of ground-water and river sensors installed is a big priority for us - so why not combine our efforts and develop a common range of low cost, open-source sensors for all our communities. There’s a role for community engagement and education here too, as well as building community connections right round the world.
I look forward to learning a lot more about how Meshtastic might help. I guess it’s just going to take me a while to get my head round ProtobufPlugins and Nodeinfos.