Popular Science

This engineer is using old cell phones to stop illegal logging

Mobile devices are changing the way we fight climate change.

On a 2011 hike through the Indonesian rainforest, Topher White stumbled across a rogue logger cutting down a tree. The man was working just a short distance from the ranger station, but the din of chirping birds and buzzing insects obscured the sound of his chainsaw, keeping him hidden in plain sight.

This gave White an idea. The San Francisco-based engineer dreamt of a device that could listen for chainsaws and report their whereabouts to park authorities.

White, now 35, learned that parts of the rainforest boast remarkable mobile phone service. Cell towers abound, even where roads and power lines are scarce. Locals can make calls and send texts from the outskirts of the

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