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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.

How Tech Can Help Curb Emissions by Planting 500 Billion New Trees

Trees are a low-tech, high-efficiency way to offset much of humankind’s negative impact on the climate. What’s even better, we have plenty of room for a lot more of them. A new study conducted by...

Inching Towards Abundant Water: New Progress in Desalination Tech

In early 2018, Cape Town, South Africa came dangerously close to being the world’s first major city to run out of water. People lined up for blocks to collect spring water. Stores sold out...

This Cool Artificial Reef Was Just Deployed in Sydney Harbor

Earth’s oceans have seen better days. They’re inundated with plastic waste, both whole single-use plastics and tons of plastic microparticles that find their way back into our food and drinking water. Their water temperatures...

Wood Gets a Makeover to Provide Energy-Free Air Conditioning

Powering buildings costs America $430 billion a year and accounts for 40 percent of total energy use. Almost half of that is used for heating and cooling. Now scientists have given our oldest building...

How Realistic Are the Global Climate Change Targets? New Research Weighs In

In 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius pointed out that “the development of human industry” could introduce carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, trapping infrared radiation and warming the climate. It took until 2015, when CO2 concentration...

Could Artificial Photosynthesis Help Tackle the Climate Crisis?

Plants are the planet’s lungs, but they’re struggling to keep up due to rising CO2 emissions and deforestation. Engineers are giving them a helping hand, though, by augmenting their capacity with new technology and...

12 Ways Big Tech Can Take Big Action on Climate Change

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have invested $1 billion in Breakthrough Energy to fund next-generation solutions to tackle climate. But there is a huge risk that any successful innovation will only reach the market...

Forget the Anthropocene: We’ve Entered the Synthetic Age

One fact about our time is becoming increasingly well-known. No matter how far you travel, no matter in which direction you point, there is nowhere on Earth that remains free from the traces of...

Will These Massive Geoengineering Projects Fix the Earth—or Break It?

From planting continent-long forests to inducing rainfall, researchers have begun proposing, testing, and in some cases implementing large-scale geoengineering projects to radically transform the planet. These projects are designed to solve problems such as...

These Smart Seafaring Robots Have a Whole New Set of Skills

Drones. Self-driving cars. Flying robo taxis. If the headlines of the last few years are to be believed, terrestrial transportation in the future will someday be filled with robotic conveyances and contraptions that will...

Will Electric Planes Ever Happen? Here’s an Update on Their Status

In 2015, airlines burned through 276 million tons of jet fuel. That's roughly 7 percent of global oil products, and leads to direct emissions that make up 2.7 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions....

Saving the Seas: New Technologies to Protect the Ocean

The ocean covers more than 70 percent of our planet’s surface. The Pacific alone is more than 60 million square miles. And yet, technologists are often focused on their home turf, populating roads with...

Whale-Watching from Space: Why Satellites Are Monitoring Wildlife

A new study of whales shows that advances in satellite imagery and related technologies mean we can now recognize specific features of animals all the way from space. It is the latest in a...

Y Combinator’s Search For a Climate Change Unicorn

Silicon Valley's premier tech incubator, Y Combinator, has decided to take on climate change. They've put out a call for proposals for technology that can suck CO2 from the air in the hope of reversing our...

The 7 Wild Energy Technologies That Just Got a Billion-Dollar Boost

It's touch and go whether current efforts to curb carbon emissions will avert catastrophic climate change. That's why a group of billionaires have pledged $1 billion to fund radical new energy technologies, and they've...

How to Feed Global Demand for Seafood—Without Harming the Ocean

“You really can’t justify tuna in Chicago as a source of sustenance.” That’s according to Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Society Explorer who was the first female chief scientist at NOAA. She came...

The Earth’s Carrying Capacity for Human Life Is Not Fixed

In a recent Nature Sustainability paper, a team of scientists concluded that the Earth can sustain, at most, only 7 billion people at subsistence levels of consumption (and this June saw us at 7.6...

Big Tech Should Take the Lead on Climate Change—Here’s Why

At Collision, which calls itself “North America’s fastest-growing tech conference,” former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres threw down a challenge to tech titans: move the world from incremental to exponential action on climate...

What Makes People Distrust Science? Surprisingly, Not Politics

Today, there is a crisis of trust in science. Many people—including politicians and, yes, even presidents—publicly express doubts about the validity of scientific findings. Meanwhile, scientific institutions and journals express their concerns about the...

Pulling Water, Fuel, and Power From Thin Air Is Getting Practical

Pulling things from thin air is generally considered a magic trick. But several recent research papers suggest we could soon be extracting valuable resources like water, fuel, and power from the atmosphere. Startup Carbon Engineering...

Can Hawaii Go Carbon Neutral by 2045?

If you’ve done any research into climate change, you’re almost certainly familiar with the Keeling Curve. This sawtoothed upward curve tracks the inexorable increase in carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, and the rate of...

How Cyanobacteria Could Help Save the Planet

It’s very easy to forget that complex life on Earth almost missed the boat entirely. As the Sun’s luminosity gradually increases, the oceans will boil away, and the planet will no longer be in...

The Epic Project to Record the DNA of All Life on Earth

Advances in biotechnology over the past decade have brought rapid progress in the fields of medicine, food, ecology, and neuroscience, among others. With this progress comes ambition for even more progress—realizing we’re capable of, say,...

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...

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