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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.

Smart Concrete Could Pave the Way for High-Tech, Cost-Effective Roads

Every day, Americans travel on roads, bridges, and highways without considering the safety or reliability of these structures. Yet much of the transportation infrastructure in the US is outdated, deteriorating, and badly in need...

This Tiny Electric Car Is Selling Like Hot Cakes in China

Though far too many sectors of the economy have suffered enormous losses during the coronavirus pandemic, a few are doing alright. One of those is car sales. It’s sort of counter-intuitive—because with everything closed,...

Airbus Just Unveiled Three New Zero-Emission Concept Aircraft

Air travel has plummeted during the pandemic; not only do a lot of people not feel safe being in airports or on planes, but with everything we used to do being closed or canceled,...

Solarpunk Is Growing a Gorgeous New World in the Cracks of the Old One

What will the future look, smell, sound, taste, and feel like? And why on Earth—and other planets—are those questions relevant, especially given the havoc going on in the world, right here and now? Simply put,...

We’re Using Microbes to Clean Up Toxic Electronic Waste. Here’s How

If you were to stack up all the electronic waste produced annually around the world it would weigh as much as all the commercial aircraft ever produced, or 5,000 Eiffel towers. This is a...

A Norwegian Startup Is Turning Dry Deserts Into Fertile Cropland

The UN population forecast predicts that by 2050 there will be almost 10 billion people on the planet. They’ll live mostly in cities and have an older median age than the current global population....

Scientists Gene-Hack Cotton Plants to Make Them Every Color of the Rainbow

Imagine this: You’re on a drive through cotton country. The sun’s out, top’s down. It’s a beautiful, totally normal day. Only, what was once a sea of white puff balls has transformed into a...

Airships Are No Longer a Relic of the Past; You Could Ride in One by 2023

As concern over climate change and rising temperatures grows, the airline industry is taking heat (pun intended). Flying accounts for 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions; that’s lower than car travel and maritime...

GE Will 3D Print the Bases of Wind Turbines Taller Than Seattle’s Space Needle

If you’ve seen a wind farm in action, you know modern wind turbines are pretty awe-inspiring—hulking giants all in a row, massive blades turning in the barest breeze. In the last few decades, turbine...

Evolution: Why It Seems to Have a Direction and What to Expect Next

The diversity and complexity of life on Earth is astonishing: 8 million or more living species—from algae to elephants—all evolved from a simple, single-celled common ancestor around 3.5 billion years ago. But does that...

Buildings Consume Lots of Energy—Here’s How to Design Whole Communities That Give Back as Much as They Take

Although the coronavirus pandemic has dominated recent headlines, climate change hasn’t gone away. Many experts are calling for a “green” economic recovery that directs investments into low-carbon energy sources and technologies. Buildings account for 40...

Will 3 Billion People Really Live in Temperatures as Hot as the Sahara by 2070?

Humans are amazing creatures, in that they have shown they can live in almost any climate. Think of the Inuit who live in the Arctic or the Bedouins in the deserts of North Africa....

Earth Day at 50: A Look to the Past Offers Hope for the Planet’s Future

Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets in cities and towns across the United States, giving voice to an emerging consciousness of humanity’s impact on Earth. Protesters...

Tech Must Help Restore Earth’s Biodiversity. These 5 Solutions Are a Start

The combination of climate change, deforestation, pollution, overfishing, and more have produced a biodiversity crisis. On a bad day, 200 species go extinct. If we project current rates, by century’s end, 50 percent of...

This Electric Tiny Car Can Be Rented for the Price of an Electric Scooter

On any given day, in any given city, the roads are packed with cars, motorcycles, scooters, and bikes. It’s been like that for decades. Recently, though, there's been a Cambrian explosion of alt transportation—electric...

We Won’t Have Fusion Generators in 5 Years. But the Holy Grail of Clean Energy May Still Be on Its Way

Recent reports from scientists pursuing a new kind of nuclear fusion technology are encouraging, but we are still some distance away from the “holy grail of clean energy.” The technology developed by Heinrich Hora and...

Tesla Is Building Its First European Factory—But It Has to Clear a Forest First

Tesla is having a banner year, and we’re not even two months in. After reaching what was an all-time high in December at a value of $393.15 per share, last Wednesday the company’s stock...

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:...

We’ll Soon Be Able to Prosper and Save the Earth at the Same Time. Here’s How

Life is pretty different today than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Smartphones and the internet have changed the way we do business, interact socially, and spend our free time. As tech...

5 Areas We Should Invest in Now to Survive Climate Change Later

Even if the world manages to keep to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global mean temperatures to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, climate change is coming. The best way to protect ourselves from its...

Build a Wall? A Wild Geoengineering Idea to Save the Glaciers

The seas are rising—currently at a rate of 3.3 millimeters per year, for a total of perhaps 240 millimeters since the industrial era began. Around a third of the rise so far has been...

Machine Learning vs. Climate Change: AI for the Greener Good

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Despite increasing global consensus about the urgency of reducing emissions since the 1980s, they continue to rise relentlessly. We look to technology...

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...

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