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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.

A New Carbon Capture Plant Will Pull 36,000 Tons of CO2 From the Air Each Year

A little under a year ago, the world’s biggest direct air capture (DAC) plant got up and running in Iceland. Christened Orca after the Icelandic word for energy, the plant was built by Swiss...

Cosmic Dust From Venus Is Inspiring New Air Pollution-Busting Technology

Reducing carbon emissions from roads, railways, and shipping requires implementing a range of solutions simultaneously. As far as cars are concerned, cutting the number of journeys altogether (by making it easier for people to...

How Plate Tectonics, Mountains, and Deep-Sea Sediments Have Maintained Earth’s ‘Goldilocks’ Climate

For hundreds of millions of years, Earth’s climate has warmed and cooled with natural fluctuations in the level of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere. Over the past century, humans have pushed CO₂ levels...

This Algae Powered a Computer for a Year With Just Water and Sunlight

Nearly three billion years ago, oceanic mats of cyanobacteria, called blue-green algae, transformed Earth's atmosphere by converting carbon dioxide into the oxygen we complex animals breath. In their time on the planet, they've survived...

Scientists Used AI to Create an Enzyme That Breaks Down Plastic in a Week Instead of a Century

Earth has a plastics problem, and not many great options to solve it. Plastic is everywhere: food, toiletries, and cleaning products come encased in it; our toothbrushes and children’s toys and disposable coffee lids...

Could Future Skyscrapers Be Made of Wood? Two New Timber Towers Are Going Up

Construction is a major carbon dioxide emitter, with eight percent of global emissions traceable to the cement industry and another eight percent coming from steel production. Engineers and entrepreneurs are testing out new ways...

A New Billion-Year History of Earth’s Interior Reveals Colossal ‘Blobs’ Merging and Breaking Apart Like Continents

Deep in the Earth beneath us lie two blobs the size of continents. One is under Africa, the other under the Pacific Ocean. The blobs have their roots 2,900 kilometers below the surface, almost halfway...

A Startup Is Engineering Trees to Grow Faster and Capture More Carbon

Genetic engineering has given scientists the power to manipulate fundamental properties of living things, from humans to animals to plants. In plants, genetic tweaks have brought all manner of advancements, namely higher crop yields....

Can We Resurrect Extinct Species? Scientists Put Jurassic Park to the Test

De-extinction grabbed our imagination in the 90s with Jurassic Park. Scientists have since asked: how possible is it? According to a new study, nearly impossible. But wait—it’s not all bad news. While bringing back a...

The Original Climate Crisis: How the Little Ice Age Devastated Early Modern Europe

Just as the UK was recovering from storms Eunice and Franklin, scientists of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning of a future with spiraling weather extremes, fiercer storms,...

This $4 Desalination System Can Meet a Family’s Daily Water Needs

In 2018 Cape Town, South Africa came frighteningly close to being the world’s first major city to run out of water. Unfortunately it’s not alone; water scarcity is a growing problem in multiple regions...

Startup Will Drill 12 Miles Into Earth’s Crust to Tap the Boundless Energy Below

When it comes to renewable energy, almost all the love goes to solar and wind. Which isn't surprising, given the tear both technologies have been on of late. But solar and wind have their drawbacks....

Scientists Are Sequencing the Genome of Every Complex Species on Earth

The Earth Biogenome Project, a global consortium that aims to sequence the genomes of all complex life on Earth (some 1.8 million described species) in 10 years, is ramping up. The project’s origins, aims, and...

This Robot Tunnels Through Solid Rock by Blasting It With a Jet of Superheated Gas

In science fiction movie, The Core, an intrepid crew journeys to the center of the Earth in a vessel that melts through the planet's crust and mantle with a giant laser. Drilling startup, Petra,...

Earth Will Soon Have a Black Box to Chronicle Humanity’s Downfall

If the world as we know it comes to an end (maybe even starting with an earthquake, birds and snakes and airplanes), future generations will have access to a vault containing duplicates of seed...

A Plane Powered by Cooking Oil Just Flew Across the US

The global aviation industry is responsible for two percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. Some countries are having success convincing people to fly less, but let’s be honest—we’re not going to stop taking...

How Antarctic Bacteria Live on Air and Use Hydrogen as Fuel to Make Water

Humans have only recently begun to think about using hydrogen as a source of energy, but bacteria in Antarctica have been doing it for a billion years. We studied 451 different kinds of bacteria from...

Nvidia’s New Supercomputer Will Create a ‘Digital Twin’ of Earth to Fight Climate Change

It’s crunch time on climate change, and companies, governments, philanthropists, and NGOs around the world are starting to take action, be it through donating huge sums of money to the cause, building a database...

Scientists Say We Need to Look Into Solar Geoengineering Now—Before It’s Too Late

With the pace of emissions reductions looking unlikely to prevent damaging climate change, controversial geoengineering approaches are gaining traction. But aversion to even studying such a drastic option makes it hard to have a...

The World’s Electronic Waste This Year Will Weigh More Than the Great Wall of China

It’s widely known that the world has a plastics problem. From landfills to the ocean, the stuff is everywhere, and our conscientious efforts to recycle don’t do nearly as much good as we think. What’s...

New Hybrid Coral Reefs Use Wave Energy to Transform Sea Salt to Stone

Climate change is wreaking havoc on land via extreme weather events like wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and record-high temperatures. Glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising. And of course, the ocean isn’t immune to...

This Google-Funded Project Is Tracking Global Carbon Emissions in Real Time

It’s crunch time on climate change. The IPCC’s latest report told the world just how bad it is, and...it’s bad. Companies, NGOs, and governments are scrambling for fixes, both short-term and long-term, from banning...

New Research Reveals Animals Are Changing Their Body Shapes to Cope With Climate Change

Global warming is a big challenge for warm-blooded animals, which must maintain a constant internal body temperature. As anyone who’s experienced heatstroke can tell you, our bodies become severely stressed when we overheat. Animals are...

The World’s Largest Direct Air Capture Plant Is Now Pulling CO2 From the Air in Iceland

A little over four years ago, the world’s first commercial plant for sucking carbon dioxide out of the air opened near Zurich, Switzerland. The plant was powered by a waste heat recovery facility, with...

We Could Power Our Homes With Food Scraps. Here’s What’s Stopping Us

Imagine if you could power your kettle using the energy generated from the vegetable cuttings quietly breaking down in your kitchen’s compost bin. That reality might not be so far off with the growth...

Scientists Just Laid Out a Game Plan for Building a Clean Hydrogen Economy

Batteries and renewable energy are helping to decarbonize large swathes of the modern world, but they look less likely to help in areas like industrial heating, long-haul heavy transportation, and long-duration energy storage. Some...

The UAE Is Using Drones to Zap Clouds With Electricity and Make It Rain

Extreme weather events seem to be getting more common. In the last month in particular, we’ve seen dramatic flash floods in various parts of the world, including Germany, China, and the US. But while...

How Early Humans Used Fire to Permanently Change the Landscape Millennia Ago

Fields of rust-colored soil, spindly cassava, small farms and villages dot the landscape. Dust and smoke blur the mountains visible beyond massive Lake Malawi. Here in tropical Africa, you can’t escape the signs of...

The US Just Approved Its First Big Offshore Wind Farm, and It’s a Breakthrough for the Industry

The United States’ offshore wind industry is tiny, with just seven wind turbines operating off Rhode Island and Virginia. The few attempts to build large-scale wind farms like Europe’s have run into long delays,...

‘Infinitely Recyclable’ Plastic Could Help Solve Our Waste Crisis

The world is drowning in plastic, and part of the reason is that it's incredibly hard to recycle most of the waste we create. According to new research though, “infinitely recyclable” plastics present an...

Google Earth’s Amazing New Feature Is a 37-Year 3D Timelapse of the Entire Planet

Satellites are doing all kinds of amazing new things lately, from beaming high-speed internet to remote areas to capturing high-resolution images through clouds to taking 24 million images of every part of the Earth...

Scientists Figured Out How to Turn Food Waste Into Jet Fuel

Aviation is a major contributor to climate change, and also one of the hardest sectors to wean off fossil fuels. New research suggests we could reduce the carbon footprint of jet fuel by 165...

Origin of Life: Lightning Strikes May Have Provided Missing Ingredient for Earth’s First Organisms

The origin of life on Earth is one of the most complex puzzles facing scientists. It involves not only identifying the numerous chemical reactions that must take place to create a replicating organism, but...

The Ghost of Ancient Earth’s Magma Oceans Found in Greenland Rocks

Our planet’s history is written in its rocks. You can traverse eons by brushing your fingers over the layers of a cliff wall. But beyond a certain point, the record goes blank. Though the...

This Soft Robot Stingray Just Explored the Deepest Point in the Ocean

While all eyes were on the dramatic descent of NASA’s Perseverance rover last month, a team sent a robot into another alien world, one closer to home: the deep sea. With its towering undersea mountains,...

Elon Musk’s $100 Million Carbon Capture Push

Even if the world rapidly ramps up climate action, most experts agree that cutting emissions is no longer enough to avert disaster. We also need to invest in pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere,...

Scientists Want to Fight Climate Change by Blocking the Sun With Dust

In the past few years, scientists have hatched some pretty crazy-sounding schemes in the name of protecting Earth and its inhabitants. From building an underwater wall 120 kilometers long to try to save a...

No Trees Harmed: MIT Aims to One Day Grow Your Kitchen Table in a Lab

You’ve likely heard the buzz around lab-grown (or cultured) meat. We can now take a few cells from a live animal and grow those cells into a piece of meat. The process is kinder...

Scientists Just Created a Catalyst That Turns CO2 Into Jet Fuel

Air travel is one of the worst contributors to global warming, burping out nearly a billion tons of CO2 a year. But what if we could close that circle by converting those greenhouse gases...

Anthropocene: Human-Made Materials Now Weigh as Much as All Living Biomass, Say Scientists

Our deficiencies have always driven us, even among our distant ancestors, back in the last Ice Age. Having neither the speed and strength to hunt large prey, nor sharp teeth and claws to tear...

After 1.5 Billion Years in Flux, Here’s How a New, Stronger Crust Set the Stage for Life on Earth

Our planet is unique in the solar system. It’s the only one with active plate tectonics, ocean basins, continents and, as far as we know, life. But Earth in its current form is 4.5...

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...

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