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Environment


Analysis and insight on the future of our environment. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important trends impacting our environment.

5 Organizations Using Cool Tech Solutions and Research to Clean Up the Oceans

The Earth is an ocean world. From space, this fact is obvious, whether the planet appears as a bluish dust mote at the edge of the solar system, a bright sapphire star from our...

From Drone Swarms to Tree Batteries, New Tech Is Revolutionizing Ecology and Conservation

Understanding Earth’s species and ecosystems is a monumentally challenging scientific pursuit. But with the planet in the grip of its sixth mass extinction event, it has never been a more pressing priority. To unlock nature’s...

China Plans to Bring Artificial Rain to Area Three Times the Size of Spain

Artificial rain is set to fall on mountainous plains three times the size of Spain. At least, that’s the plan for China’s latest weather manipulation project. As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP),...

Can We Recycle CO2 Emissions to Make Carbon-Neutral Fuel?

Our failure to curb our carbon emissions is threatening to cause catastrophic climate change within our lifetimes. But what if we could recycle CO2 emitted by power stations and turn it into fuels and...

Watch This Lifelike Robot Fish Swim Through the Ocean

Earth’s oceans are having a rough go of it these days. On top of being the repository for millions of tons of plastic waste, global warming is affecting the oceans and upsetting marine ecosystems...

How Graphene Research Is Taking Aim at 5 of the World’s Biggest Problems

In September 2015, world leaders gathered at a historic UN summit to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are 17 ambitious targets and indicators that help guide and coordinate governments and international organizations...

The Massive Project to Clean Up the Ocean With a Two-Kilometer Screen

Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean, threatening just about every marine species and ecosystem. As the global population grows and countries develop, this is only going to increase, eventually...

Oxford Study Says Alien Life Would Evolve and Adapt Just Like Life on Earth

The alternative universe known as science fiction has given our culture a menagerie of alien species. From overstuffed teddy bears like Ewoks and Wookies to terrifying nightmares such as Alien and Predator, our collective...

Here Are 4 Significant Things We Can Do to Combat Climate Change Now

Earlier this month, 13 US government agencies (NOAA, NASA, DOE, etc.) concluded that climate change is real and caused mainly by human activity. There is no question that this is happening… The only question now is:...

What It Would Take to Suck CO2 Back Out of the Atmosphere

If greenhouse gases are such a problem, can’t we just suck the carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere? It’s a perfectly reasonable question and an important area of technological research to pursue. The...

Why the World Is (Still) Better Than You Think—New Evidence For Abundance

Your mindset matters — now more than ever. We are in the midst of a drug epidemic. The drug? Negative news. The drug pushers? The media. As I wrote in Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, we pay...

Does Our Survival Depend on Relentless Exponential Growth?

Malthus had a fever dream in the 1790s. While the world was marveling in the first manifestations of modern science and technology and the industrial revolution that was just beginning, he was concerned. He...
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There’s Hope for the Planet: The ‘Greatest Era of Exploration Is Just Beginning’

In an interview at Singularity University’s Global Summit in San Francisco, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle said we live in a remarkable time when “the greatest era of exploration is just beginning.” Earle is a National...

5 Reasons the UN Is Jumping on the Blockchain Bandwagon

By the time they woke on May 31st, 2017, 10,000 Syrian refugees stationed at Azraq camp in Jordan had received their long-awaited aid. But instead of the typical white and blue trucks from the...

Why Empowering Women Is the Best Way to Solve Climate Change

In April of this year, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading over 410 parts per million (ppm). This is a brand-new state of affairs, as humans have never...

These 5 Countries Are Killing It in the Battle Against Climate Change

When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how...

The World’s First Autonomous Ship Will Set Sail In 2018

What A Norwegian container ship called the Yara Birkeland will be the world’s first electric, autonomous, zero-emissions ship. With a capacity of up to 150 shipping containers, the battery-powered ship will be small compared to...

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Europe’s Huge New Vertical Farm

The Eindhoven High Tech Campus, a 90-minute train ride south of Amsterdam, consists of two rows of nondescript mid-rise office buildings on either side of a wide, tree-lined road. In typical Dutch fashion, there’s...

Canada Is Building a 7 Megawatt-Hour Compressed Air Energy Storage Plant

Green energy is a popular topic right now, with many countries signing on to the Paris Climate Accord and planning to move away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. While most countries are working toward...

Beyond Politics: Innovating for a Sustainable Future

Singularity University is dismayed by the Trump administration’s choice to withdraw from the Paris Accord. Climate change is one of the greatest risks to humankind, and the decisions we make over the next few...

Big Data Is Helping Us See Environmental Problems in a Whole New Light

You don’t have to be a member of Greenpeace to see that the planet, its ecosystems and its wildlife are under threat. Climate change, deforestation, ocean acidification, pollution—the list of human-caused insults to the...

Could Having Too Much Become a Bigger Problem Than Having Too Little?

Years ago I traveled to Juarez, Mexico for work, staying across the border in El Paso, Texas and driving back and forth each day. On the Texas side, American life bustled on as usual:...

How NASA Monitors Climate Change in Two Infographics

We've all heard about climate change due to rising sea levels and increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. But the question is, how rapidly is the climate actually changing? The recently signed Paris Agreement, in which countries worldwide have committed...

Singularity Hub’s Most Viral Hits in Tech and Futurism From 2015

Here at Singularity Hub, we’re a group of nerds and curious technologists who are always peering over the horizon to see what startling technology is about to take the world by storm. We love...

Why We Need Government to Evolve as Fast as Technology

From deep learning to gene editing, the world of technology is moving fast. But at Singularity University, we believe amazing tech is only half the equation. Equally important is how we use technology. The...
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Will Artificial Intelligence Transform How We Grow and Consume Food? [Video]

Today, agriculture is more efficient than ever, but it's also more dependent on environmental, technological, and social issues like never before. Climate change, drought and other disasters, shifting energy landscapes, population growth, urbanization, GMOs, changes in...

Summit Spain: What Is The Greatest Challenge Humanity Faces Today?

“What is the greatest challenge humanity faces today?” This question was posed by Nick Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University, to the audience gathered at this year’s Summit Spain in Seville. “It depends...

Big Declines in Pollutants Over US Cities, According to NASA Satellite Imagery

Pollution in US cities has been declining for decades now. But sometimes it takes a visual aid to drive the point home. NASA recently released a time lapse of nitrogen oxide—one of six federally regulated...

New Material Sucks Water From the Air and Stores It

As the changing climate pushes arid regions around the world to become drier, many are asking how we will continue to provide enough water for the people and crops in those areas. Some Rice University...

Dr. Franken-Tree, I Presume: Using Biotechnology to Battle Extinction

In thirty years of covering (as an author/journalist) and working on (as an entrepreneur/activist) both ecological issues and technological breakthroughs, I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest environmental threat we now face is...

Clean Energy Growth Stalls With Loss of Incentives

In 2013, the addition of renewable capacity slowed slightly compared to the previous year as a result of shrinking governmental incentives and investment, according to a new report from The Pew Chartiable Trusts. While the survey found that renewable energy still relies on public incentives, it also suggested that at least parts of the industry are not as dependent as they once were on such incentives, thanks to falling prices.

Air Pollution Killed 7 Million in 2012, According to WHO

Air pollution claimed 7 million lives in 2012, according to a report just released by the World Health Organization, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. One out of every eight premature deaths in 2012 was attributable to air pollution, the numbers reveal — a rate double that reported in previous years due to more accurate measures of pollution in both outdoor and indoor environments and in a broader range of rural areas.

U.S. Navy Explores Beaming Solar Power From Space

The Naval Research Laboratory has built a solar module capable of capturing and transmitting solar power from space, where it's never cloudy.

Singularity Surplus: Other News in Exponential Sci/Tech From the Week

Potential treatment for deadly brain cancer; climate change shrinks crops; banking your own stem cells just in case.

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal

Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson has drawn up detailed plans for each state in the union that show how the United States could move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available.

Our Singularity Future: Should We Hack the Climate?

Even the most adamant techno-optimists among us must admit that new technologies can introduce hidden dangers: Fire, as the adage goes, can cook the dinner but it can also burn the village down. The most powerful example of an unforeseen problem is climate change. Which makes the debate about whether to use still more novel technology to help fix the problem — to hack the climate — particularly heated.

Scientists Ponder Human Role in Mid-Atlantic Dolphin Die-Off

The number of bottlenose dolphins beaching themselves along the Mid-Atlantic coast skyrocketed in July and early August, leading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare on August 8 an “unusual mortality event” and launch an investigation into what might be causing the deaths.

The Cost of China’s Economic Miracle: Shorter Lives, Due to Air Pollution

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed the health impacts of coal pollution by taking advantage of a de facto control group created by a Chinese government policy that provided free heating coal to homes and offices in northern China but not to those in southern China. The findings were dramatic.

NASA’s Trial Polar Rover Studies One of the Harshest Places on Earth

NASA recently concluded a successful six-week test of a prototype polar rover near the highest point in Greenland, where the robotic vehicle traversed icy terrain in temperatures of minus 30 Celsius to help scientists learn more about how ice sheets are faring in the changing climate — without having to break for hot cocoa.

Oslo Burns So Much Trash for Energy They’re Importing Rubbish

The US throws out 250 million tons of garbage a year. Roughly a third is recycled, and the rest is landfill. You might think that’s a problem, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Oslo, Norway burns rubbish to power and heat homes, and they’ve run out. The city imports trash from Sweden, Ireland, England—and they wouldn’t mind taking on a few tons from the US.

You can now place your order for a burger grown entirely in a lab

It may take some time before in vitro burgers replace old fashioned farmed burgers, but the feat is a delicious victory for environmentalists and scientists alike in search for alternate ways to feed the world’s addition to meat.

Our Singularity Future: Humanity’s Trash Piling Up In Great Lakes

Technology allows us to achieve great things – so many goods are made affordable, for example, by mass production. But when mass production is not responsibly planned out and regulated, trash starts piling up.
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Allan Savory to Reverse Desertification, Solve Global Warming, Feed World’s Poor

As a young biologist in Africa, Alan Savory helped set aside national park lands. His organization removed indigenous “hunting, drum-beating people” to protect animals. However, burgeoning herds of elephants were soon identified as causing desertification by overgrazing. Savory theorized as much in a paper and sent it to his peers for review. Other scientists corroborated the report and the government killed 400,000 elephants. Instead of improving, desertification worsened.

America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Closer To Reality After Receiving $2 Billion From Japanese Bank

Offshore wind farms are finally arriving on US shores – and they’re doing it with foreign help. Plans to install Cape Wind, a 468 MW, 130 turbine wind farm in the waters off the...

World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Online In United Arab Emirates

And now, this country that has risen from poverty to become the world’s thirteenth richest after striking oil, is doing renewable energy in a characteristically big way. They’ve just completed the world’s largest solar power station.

Accelerating Technology Parallels Exponentially Rising Piles of Junk

In the midst of a move and digging through the clutter, I’ve excavated a number of ancient pieces of tech from bygone eras. There’s a 2004 Apple Powerbook that’s thicker than the econ textbook it’s sitting on, a cracked first generation iPhone, and an early “flatscreen” TV (that’s far from flat). What to do with this stuff? The faster we move from one generation of technology to the next, the faster the current iteration is destined for the trash heap. Does accelerating tech therefore doom us to flee an uninhabitable WALL-E world in the future? Maybe, but probably not.

Sea Installer – The Enormous Ocean Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

Technological progress advances our ability to build bigger and badder machines. A recent example is Sea Installer, part of the next generation of powerful wind turbine installation vessels that are capable of moving and installing...

Are Humans Causing Oceanic Jellygeddon? The Jury’s Still Out

Tied tight with advancing technology are concerns human development is irrevocably damaging the planet. Back in 2001, one theory warned warmer oceans and overfishing would spawn jellyfish at an alarming rate. Throughout the next...

Our Polluted Singularity Future? Beijing Smog Hits Record Levels

Industrialization has its price. This past weekend Beijing, the epicenter of one of the world’s fastest growing and largest economies, reached the highest smog levels on record. The World Health Organization standard for air quality...

Towers Of Vegetables Go Up As Singapore Builds First Vertical Farm

Short on arable land? One solution would be to plant…up. Singapore, a small country that imports most of its food, has now begun selling vegetables from its first vertical farm. And even while they’re...

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