Assuming there’s little change to our carbon emissions, “heatwave deaths in New York city could rise by as much as 91% on 1980s levels by the 2080s.”
Plastics like styrofoam currently take up between 25%-30% of our landfill space, and a single cubic foot of styrofoam has the same energy content as about one and a half liters of gasoline.
College pals Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre established Ecovative, which grows cost-effective alternatives to plastic insulation and packaging. While they were students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bayer and McIntyre experimented with mycelium, the network of vegetative filaments in mushrooms, and realized that it could be used to form incredibly strong bonds. Essentially, the substance functions like a glue that you can grow and use to form agricultural byproducts like plant stalks and seed husks into natural alternatives to styrofoam packaging and insulation.
Top: Saudi Arabia in 1988
Bottom: Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Stunning time-lapse satellite photos show humanity’s effect on Earth.
It’s no secret that the world’s ocean trash problem is getting bad; looking at a handful of images from the Texas-sized Pacific garbage patch should be enough to convince anyone. As for all of our litter that doesn’t end up in the middle of the ocean? It often stays close to shore, where volunteers for Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup pick some of it up, cataloging all the items they find.
“One of the easiest ways to go green is to go small,” Hill says. “I want to show people that there’s an amazing modern green future, and make it easy for them to step into it.”
Hill transforms his couch into a bed, makes a desk appear from the wall, and then moves that entire wall to reveal a guest bedroom. Just as quickly, he disappears the guest room, pops a Murphy bed back into place, and reveals a dining room table with seating for 10. Even Hill’s bathroom is multifunctional: He soundproofed the toilet stall and added a handsome wooden bench that folds over the seat, which turns it either into a private phone booth or, no joke, a very tiny meditation studio. That’s why he and nine others who are trying to change how we live made our list of The 100 Most Creative People of 2013.
There are a lot of roads just sitting there in the sun, doing nothing with all that energy. Why not use them to collect it? Introducing the Solar Roadway, a road built out of solar panels.
The road is made of three parts: a hard-wearing translucent top-layer with the solar cells, LED lights (for road markings) and a heating element (to keep off snow and ice); an electronics layer to control lighting and communications; and a base plate layer that distributes power to nearby homes and businesses (and perhaps electric vehicle charging stations). Plus, there’s a channel at the edge to collect and filter run-off water (including anti-freeze and other chemicals that normally leeches into the ground).
If you eat processed food and you’re not a vegan, a decent portion of your diet probably comes from factory-farmed eggs. Sure, you may stick to cage-free eggs when you’re cooking omelets, but 95% of eggs in the U.S. come from battery-caged facilities where birds are packed body to body in impossibly small spaces.
A San Francisco startup wants to change that. It makes a plant-based egg substitute so believable that it’s about to sign two deals with Fortune 500 food companies that want to use the stuff in sauces and dressings.
What If The Keystone XL Pipeline Was A Bike Path?
This tongue-in-cheek proposal would turn the 5,000-mile pipeline into an opportunity for localized development.
Let’s pretend that it’s 2014, and the Keystone XL Pipeline has just been approved, despite protests from millions of Americans. According to a group of landscape architects at SWA Group, the time to start planning for that day is now. “The environment it will create isn’t beautiful, useful, ornecessarily safe. If we’re not thinking about how to make it better for people, that’s a problem,” says SWA principal Kinder Baumgardner.
So as part of an internal exercise, the SWA Group is imagining how public amenities could be woven into the 5,000-mile stretch of crude oil pipeline.
On the surface, SWA’s proposal is incredibly cynical. A bike path next to an oil pipeline is the environmental equivalent of a bandaid on a mortal wound.
They imagine families taking summer trips along the path, stopping at oft-overlooked cultural and natural heritage sites and spending much-needed tourist dollars along the way. As a design element, it’d be fairly inexpensive to build. The real point, explains Baumgardner, is to generate development by increasing local tourism.
“There are hundreds of small towns that won’t benefit from the Oil Sands once the Pipeline is built,” he says. “What we’re talking about is an opportunity to make it into an amenity managed at a local scale.”
This map shows the diversity of ecology and climates that exist in the areas through which the pipeline/trail will travel.
This Man Shot 40,000 Elephants Before He Figured Out That Herds Of Cows Can Save The Planet
According to the Association of American Railroads, freight trains are four times more fuel efficient than trucks, with 75% fewer carbon emissions for the same distance (it has a handy calculator here, if you want to plug in a few actual journeys). The video above shows off some new diesel locomotives that General Electric says are particularly efficient, using “11% less fuel than the existing locomotive average in North America.”
These projects to increase production of fossil fuels are being planned around the world. But if all of them come to fruition, it may be the last fossil fuels we produce, because the combined effect will be to raise the planet’s temperature disastrously.
If we go ahead with 14 major fossil fuel projects now on the drawing board (you can see them above), we’ll have a good chance of destroying the world as we know it. Or, to put it less emotionally: We’ll sail right through carbon limits most scientists agree are safe for the atmosphere.
Architects Danny Mui and Benjamin Sahagun have come up with a novel concept: buildings that scrub CO2 emissions from the air.
We recently created a daily news website about world changing ideas and innovations. It’s a place focused on ideas that are going to change the way we live and the resources we use. And it’s time to buck convention and find solutions that people haven’t thought of yet.
With this in mind, we’d like YOU to submit your ideas for what we’ll be reading about decades from now. What do you think Co.Exist will write about in 30 years? Create your own vision of tomorrow right here (or click on the picture). We’ll round up the best ones and feature them on our site!
We’ve uploaded a few on Facebook to get the creative juices flowing. We’re excited to see what you come up with. Spread the word!