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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.

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...

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...

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