7 Climate Change Innovations That Could Help Save the Planet


Here’s a creepy thought for Halloween: Sunday is COP26, the United Nations annual climate change conference. Yes, that means there have been 25 previous conferences and we still have no stake in the heart of the climate crisis.

This one is also likely to produce terrible warnings about the state of our planet, and these warnings should probably be followed by a little bit of pursuit. But it’s not all doom and gloom out there: innovators around the world have come up with unique ideas to save the earth, from trash cans from our plastic-clogged seas to an exercise bike that can power your equipment.

“There are startups out there that make a difference,” said Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at NYU and a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s climate change panel, told The Post.

As the politicians negotiate, there are some things here that give you hope that a new day is coming.

Skim plastic from the sea

The oceans are filling with plastic – one study says the amount will triple by 2040 – and gathering in the famous Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii, a swirling eddy twice the size of Texas. It’s made up of bottle caps, lighters, and other debris that gradually break down into microplastic that gets into the fish that people eat.

Obviously, the best way to fix this is to use single-use plastic, but one group has a plan to attack the plastic that is already there. The ocean cleanup is a non-profit organization that aims to remove 90% of floating plastic by 2040. To achieve this ambitious goal, they deployed a device nicknamed Jenny, an 800-meter-long floating U-shaped barrier pulled by two boats that catches even tiny pieces of plastic and funnels them into a huge net. The plastic is then recycled into products like sunglasses, which are sold to aid in the cleanup.

Drop trees from the sky

Flash Forest drones throw seed pods into the ground and plant trees to offset the carbon.

Elon Musk recently tweeted that he will donate $ 100 million to the best idea to remove dangerous CO2 from the atmosphere. The backlash was brutal: the answer, replied Twitter, is trees, deaf skulls.

Musk was looking for a technical solution to a problem nature can solve, but here’s a technical approach that might actually help. A Canadian startup called Flash Forest uses drones to plant thousands of trees every month to help tackle deforestation from deforestation, fires, and animal husbandry. Lightning forest – and other startups doing similar work – can plant around 100,000 trees a day by shooting seed pods into the ground with just a drone, while a human could only put around 1,500 in the ground. Best of all, they can do this at a cost of around 50 cents per tree. That’s a lot less than Musk’s $ 100 million.

Soak up CO2

Orca, Climeworks' carbon removal facility in Iceland, can effectively pull and store CO2 from the air.  Coldplay is using Climeworks technology to make their 2022 tour carbon neutral.
Orca, Climeworks’ carbon removal facility in Iceland, can effectively pull and store CO2 from the air. Coldplay is using Climeworks technology to make their 2022 tour carbon neutral.
RELATED PRESS

You could argue about whether Coldplay sucks, but here’s a fact: Coldplay wants to help… suck the carbon out of the atmosphere.

The British pop band behind the song “Fix You” are looking to fix the planet by partnering with Climeworks for their 2022 “Music of the Spheres” World Tour with the goal of achieving a net carbon footprint. This is where Climeworks comes into play: The Swiss company is the first to operate a system for direct CO2 capture and storage. It pulls planet-warming carbon directly from the atmosphere, sucks it in with a fan, and then traps and stores carbon on highly selective filters. In September Orca opened its collection and storage facility operated by a nearby geothermal plant in Iceland. The company says it can remove 4,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year. The carbon is stored underground, eventually made into stone, and sold for a variety of uses – farmers can use it in plant fodder and soda makers can even use it in soda.

“What they’re doing is commercializing the process that literally takes CO2 out of nowhere. That’s fantastic, ”said Wagner. “It certainly captures carbon just like the human imagination.”

Of course, CO2 capture is only about wheels if we don’t reduce the CO2 emissions that are released into the atmosphere – but, Wagner said, we will definitely need the technology.

“Yes, it is so late in the game that it is already necessary to get CO2 out of the air,” he said.

Growing meat in the laboratory

Californian startup Eat Just makes cultured meat by extracting a cell from an animal and growing it in a laboratory for about two weeks.  These chicken nuggets pictured are available at the 1880 restaurant in Singapore.
Californian startup Eat Just makes cultured meat by extracting a cell from an animal and growing it in a laboratory for about two weeks. These chicken nuggets pictured are available at the 1880 restaurant in Singapore.
Just eat

Good news for everyone who is fed up with not including meat and animal products in their diet due to their enormous carbon footprint! You will soon be able to keep your meat just without the animal and the energy, land and resources needed to raise it.

“Culture meat” – also known as “laboratory meat”, which is produced from animal cells in bioreactors – was approved for sale by a regulatory authority for the first time last year. Singapore launched “Chicken Bites” from the US company Eat Just in December. Dozens of companies are developing beef, pork, and chicken versions of this that could soon hit the U.S. market.

Laboratory meat is still expensive until it gets bigger (a three-way chicken-bite sample at the Singapore restaurant where it debuted is around $ 23). No laboratory is required.

Generate energy with home exercise equipment

A one-hour training session on this RE: GEN bike can power your iPhone 12 times.
A one-hour training session on this RE: GEN bike can power your iPhone 12 times.
Credit Energym.io

An exercise bike that can power your home? Yes, it’s literally a “Black Mirror” episode, but it’s also an innovative new product that combines fitness and renewable energy. British company Energym has one RE: GEN exercise bike (about $ 2,700), which looks like a regular home exercise bike, except it contains a battery that charges with each pedal. After your workout, you can unclip the battery and carry it around all day to charge your devices. According to the company, the average one-hour workout generates enough power to charge an iPhone 12 times. It’s not a lot of energy, but it’s something, says Wagner.

“If you are unable to ride a bike outside and you have to spend a lot of money on some equipment to build your bike, yes, spend it on this one instead of the peloton,” he says.

Scale up production to solar panels

David Berney Needleman, CEO of Leap Photovoltaics, is working on converting silicon directly into solar cells, which can then be processed into solar modules faster - and more cheaply.
David Berney Needleman, CEO of Leap Photovoltaics, is working on converting silicon directly into solar cells, which can then be processed into solar modules faster – and more cheaply.
Tony Pulsone

Some of the key innovations in the fight against climate change are the most boring, Wagner said. One of those boring but momentous breakthroughs could be at a startup called. happen Leap photovoltaics, who says it has found a way to cut the cost of making solar cells used in solar panels in half – making clean solar power a reality for tons more households. Instead of using the expensive silicon wafers used in most solar cells, the company processes silicon directly into cells, similar to 3D printing.

It uses a tenth of the silicon as a conventional solar module and uses 70% less energy and 90% less water. This also removes the need to build factories to manufacture solar modules, simplify the process and open it up to more manufacturers.

The company was founded last year and hopes to be able to serve customers as early as 2023. It is precisely the small revolutions that climate researchers are hoping for.

“Fantastic, let’s do it, let’s scale it,” said Wagner. “They are fundamentally better than anything else you can do to generate electricity.”

Preventing garbage from entering the waterways – with bubbles

The Great Bubble Barrier (currently in use in Amsterdam) pushes plastic and debris to the surface and collects them without obstructing ships or wildlife.
The Great Bubble Barrier (currently in use in Amsterdam) pushes river plastic and debris to the surface and collects them without obstructing ships or wildlife.

Scientists in the Netherlands have found a simple way to prevent litter from getting into the ocean in the first place: bubbles.

The great bubble barrier shoots a bubble screen that prevents plastics from passing through and pushes other deposits to the surface. The bubbles come from air that is pumped from a pipe at the bottom of the waterway and lifts buoyant plastic to the surface. The bubble curtain is angled diagonally, which uses the natural flow of the waterway to push the trash to a waiting area to collect for proper disposal.

It debuted in Amsterdam in 2019, amidst this city’s famous canals that meander through the city, top-notch basins for catching all kinds of debris. The bubbles are designed to remove up to 80% of the debris from the waterways and prevent them from entering the open ocean without affecting wildlife or boat traffic. It’s now being used in other cities as well, and the startup is hoping to make it the standard to stop marine pollution before it starts.

About Thelma Wilt

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