Categories
Planet Care

95: De-extinction via DNA

Solution:

One of the most powerful tools to fight biological obliteration is CRISPR, (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) involving slicing DNA apart then adding and subtracting genes at will.


In 1987, researchers at Osaka University studying the function of Escherichia coli genes first noticed a set of short, repeated DNA sequences, but they did not understand the significance.

Six years later, another microbiologist, Francisco Mojica at the University of Alicante in Spain, noted the sequences in a different single-celled organism, Haloferax mediterranei. The sequences kept appearing in other microbes and in 2002, the unusual DNA structures were given a name: CRISPR.

In 2012, Jennifer Doudna, from UC Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, at Umea University, Sweden, showed CRISPR could be hijacked and modified. Essentially, they had turned CRISPR from a bacterial defence mechanism into a DNA-seeking missile strapped to a pair of molecular scissors. For this they were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Their modified CRISPR system worked extremely well, finding and cutting any gene they chose. The floodgates opened, and CRISPR research, which had long been the domain of molecular microbiologists, skyrocketed. The number of articles referencing CRISPR in preeminent research journal Nature has increased by over 6,000 % between 2012 and 2018.

One scientist who is using CRISPR for a particular de-extinction is Ben Novak, a lead scientist with conservation non-profit Revive & Restore in Sausalito, California. Novak is working to bring back the passenger pigeon, once North America’s most abundant bird. The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, rendering the species extinct.

Novak spends most of his time in a facility southwest of Melbourne, Australia, working with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) breeding band-taileds. To completely resurrect the passenger pigeon, Novak and his team are working to create a hybrid pigeon with parts of the CRISPR system embedded within its genes. The hybrids will be bred for several generations until the offspring DNA matches that of the extinct species. The first generation of ‘revived’ pigeons is expected to hatch in 2022.

In 2019, scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk and the South Korean Sooam Biotech Research Foundation have succeed in extracting liquid blood from heart vessels of a 42,000-year-old Lenskaya breed foal excavated in the Batagai depression. The autopsy showed beautifully preserved internal organs. Scientists already indicated that they were confident of success in extracting cells from this foal to de-extinct its species.

Elsewhere, in a study published in Scientific Reports, a team of scientists from Japan and Russia at Kindai University, in central Japan announced that they have managed to recover cells from the left hind leg of a 28,000-year-old juvenile mammoth that was discovered in the Siberian permafrost in 2011. Cell nuclei from the mammoth were successfully implanted in mouse cells were able to react and that there is biological activity.

In 2019, David Liu, a chemist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts invented “prime editing” which further improves on the CRISP-Cas-9 solution by offering more targeting flexibility and greater editing precision.

Although CRISPR should prove useful in de-extincting ancient species, perhaps more importantly in its ability to help living species that are in danger of becoming extinct, it is certainly a Planet-protecting solution.

This of course includes plants.

American chestnut trees dominated the East Coast of the U.S. until 1876, when a fungus carried on imported chestnut seeds devastated them, leaving less than 1 % by 1950. To make blight-resistant trees, scientists have inserted a wheat gene into chestnut embryos, enabling them to make an enzyme that detoxifies the fungus. This chestnut tree is likely to become the first genetically modified organism to be released into the wild once it is approved by the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Genomic research on crops, for example, has already yielded plants that grow faster, produce more food, and are more resistant to pests or severe weather. Researchers may find new medicines or discover better ways to engineer organisms for use in manufacturing or energy.

What you can do: Help those organisations such as WWFN and IUCN to save threatened species.

Tomorrow’s solution: picnics delivered to your home

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Planet Care

94: De-extinction

Problem:

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 of them are endangered species threatened with extinction.

An estimated 50,000-70,000 plant species are used in traditional and modern medicine worldwide.

About 110 million tons (100 tonnes) tons of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs and crustaceans are taken from the wild every year and represent a vital contribution to world food security.

It is called the Sixth Extinction.

Solution:

De-extinction aka resurrection biology


A paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reported the Earth BioGenome project where the DNA of all known eukaryotic life on Earth is being recorded. It is estimated to take 10 years, cost US$4.7 billion, and require more than 200 petabytes of digital storage space (a petabyte is one quadrillion, or 1015 bytes).

“Eukaryotes” refers to all plants, animals, and single-celled organisms, all living things except bacteria and archaea (those will be taken care of by the Earth Microbiome Project). It is estimated there are somewhere between 10–15 million eukaryotic species, from a rhinoceros to a chinchilla down to a flea (and there are far smaller still).

Of the 2.3 million of these documented so far, scientists have sequenced fewer than 15,000 of their genomes (most of which have been microbes). One of the biggest questions is how, exactly, scientists will go about the gargantuan task of collecting intact DNA samples from every known species on Earth. Some museum specimens will be used, but many have not been preserved in such a way that the DNA could produce a high-quality genome. One important source of samples will be the Global Genome Biodiversity Network.

There is significant controversy over de-extinction or resurrection biology, or species revivalism. Critics assert that efforts would be better spent conserving existing species, that the habitat necessary for formerly extinct species to survive is too limited to warrant de-extinction, and that the evolutionary conservation benefits of these operations are questionable.

In 2017, a report published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, found that de-extinction of extinct animals for the species in New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia would be harmful to biodiversity. The lead author of research is the professor of biology at the Carleton University, Canada, Joseph R. Bennett, who used the extant analog to predict the result of the de-extinction of extinct animals with his six colleagues from Australia and New Zealand.

Indeed Michael Crichton’s best-selling dystopian novel “Jurassic Park” (1990) and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film of the same name (grossing USUS$1 billion) have led people to believe that cloning dinosaurs back to life could only go terribly wrong. But there are an increasing number of cases where species might be “brought back to life”.

Cloning involves extracting the nucleus from a preserved cell from the extinct species and swapping it into an egg of the nearest living relative. This egg can then be inserted into a relative host. It is important to note that this method can only be used when a preserved cell is available. This means that it is most feasible for recently extinct species.

For example, the banteng is an endangered species that was successfully cloned, and the first to survive for more than a week (the first was a gaur that died two days after being born). Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States extracted DNA from banteng cells kept in the San Diego Zoo’s “Frozen Zoo” facility, and transferred it into eggs from domestic cattle, a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer.

In The Embryo Project, Thirty hybrid embryos were created and sent to Trans Ova Genetics, which implanted the fertilized eggs in domestic cattle. Two were carried to term and delivered by Caesarian section. The first hybrid was born on April 1, 2003, and the second two days later. The second was euthanized, but the first survived and, as of September 2006, remained in good health at the San Diego Zoo.

What you can do: Donate to organisations working to prevent the extinction of threatened species.

Discover Solution 95: CRISPR via DNA

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Materials Planet Care

90: Crop fertilizer from recycled batteries

Problem:

Every year 6,600 tons (6,000 tonnes) of alkaline batteries are sold annually around Australia and the Battery Stewardship Council estimates that at the end of their useful life, 97% of these spent products are thrown away and end up in landfill sites where they leak into the soil, causing pollution.

Solution:

Recycling battery elements as crop fertilizer.


Envirostream is an Australian company that produces a mixed metal dust (MMD) containing cobalt, nickel, lithium and carbon from a 3,300 ton (3,000 tonne) per annum lithium-ion battery recycling plant and ships it to a South Korean company – SungEel –  for refining into chemicals that will be incorporated in new batteries.

In 2019 Envirostream began to assess the use of zinc and manganese, obtained from recycled alkaline batteries, as micro-nutrient supplements in fertilisers. It conducted an initial round of “glasshouse pot trials”, growing wheat in a variety of controlled scenarios including using the recycled zinc and manganese separately as fertiliser sulphates and a combination of the two metals as fertiliser grade sulphates. Testing was also conducted on growing the wheat using no fertiliser micro-nutrients.

From this, field trials are being carried out in near the rural town of Kojonup around 160 mi (260 km) from Perth in the wheat belt of Western Australia, a region that produces about 15.4 million tons (14 million tonnes) of grain annually and serves as a major contributor to Australia’s exports.

The Kojonup site was selected for its low pH, as well as accompanying zinc, manganese and phosphate deficiencies. Adding zinc would assist in making chlorophyll. In addition to Australian field trials, Envirostream, 74% owned by Lithium Australia,  intends to conduct further trials overseas in jurisdictions outside Australia which means seeking out partners willing to explore.

Prior to this in 2018, in Kärsämäki, central Finland, a team led by Mikko Joensuu and Joni Rahunen created a cleantech company called Tracegrow to recycle batteries made in Finland and also use the zinc and manganese to enrich soils for growing food crops.

Batteries are first crushed, then filtration and purification processes remove toxic elements such as mercury and nickel. It is important that these do not end up in the fertiliser as they could make their way into the food we eat so testing of the final product is rigorous. Once removed, they are sent on to be safely disposed of by hazardous waste treatment plants.

Initially, Tracegrow’s ZM-Grow fertiliser was used on tomatoes, cotton and avocados with promising results. On March 30th 2020 Tracegrow was granted an international patent and signed up a distribution partnership for Australia and New Zealand with ReNutrients PTY Ltd.

What you can do: Dispose of your used bateries, single use or recyclable, with care, as they may well bear fruit.

Discover Solution 90: cross-laminated timber

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Planet Care

88 : Coronal mass ejections (CME), early warning system

Problem:

Serious coronal mass ejections could cause global chaos disrupting electronic systems including satellites, navigation systems, GPS systems, communication systems, aircraft, power grids, radios, televisions and more. For perspective, the fastest ejections would take just 15 to 18 hours to hit Earth.

Solution:

An early-warning system.


NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the U.K. Space Agency (UKSA) have teamed up to develop a forecast system designed to provide an extra day for shutting down vital electronic systems.  The project, which also involves the European Space Agency and the U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to develop a plasma analyzer.

The creation of the instrument will be spearheaded by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of University College London. Their research demonstrates how the new warning system can both measure and model coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and how this can help predict how CMEs will affect the Earth. The new detection system would use cameras on satellites in multiple locations to estimate where the approaching solar storm is located and in what direction it is travelling.

This data is then combined with coronographs from the sun itself, provided by the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which show how the CME moves towards Earth. The scientists have already successfully tested a model of the system on eight mass ejections and NASA plans to continue testing. The research group’s next step is to create an interface that makes the warning system easy to use. NASA hopes the system will be able to assist in monitoring space weather in the future. (nasa.gov)

In the next 5 years NOAA and ESA with support from the UK are planning to launch two complementary solar monitoring satellites. On March 30, 2020, NASA decided to fund the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) mission for its heliophysics program, developed by a team lead by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan.

Launched by July 2023, six cubesats In July 2023, SunRISE will get to orbit flying on a commercial satellite built by Maxar. A system called the Payload Orbital Delivery System, attached to the satellite, will release six SunRISE cubesats once in orbit. They will fly in a formation about (10 km) across, so forming a virtual radio telescope to detect and pinpoint emissions from the sun associated with solar storms.

The UK’s ‘plasma analyser’ will fly on ESA’s Lagrangian 5 space weather monitoring mission to observe solar wind. L5 is about one astronomical unit from Earth (the distance of the sun, or 93 million mi (150 million km), but off to the side of the Planet. The UK Space Agency is working cooperatively with ESA and the United States’ NOAA on their complementary Lagrangian 1 space weather monitoring spacecraft. RAL Space in the UK is also working on optical instruments for space weather missions under the current ESA programme.

What you can do: If you receive a CME alert from your social network or news media, immediately share it and be prepared to switch off all electronic devices.

Discover Solution 89: carbon footprint credit card

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Planet Care Human Effort

86: Coral Regrowth

Problem:

Coral care has to take place locally.

Solution:

We wrote about some solutions for ccoral reefs in Solution #84 Here are some more.


Coral Vita, a coral reef restoration company set up 2015 in Washington, DC by Yale University grads Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern.

Using a process called micro-fragmentation pioneered by the Mote Marine Laboratory, Coral Vita uses a terrestrial farm in Palmas, USA, to grow coral. The system accelerates coral growth up to 50 times the natural rate or from decades to 6-18 months.

This is perfect for many coral species such as Brain or Great Star that serve as critical building blocks for reefs, but grow too slowly to be feasible for restoration projects using ocean-based nurseries. Coral Vita can grow these corals in months rather than decades.

In 2019, Coral Vita created the world’s coral regrowth farm in Grand Bahama, including electrical installation, plumbing and aquaculture tanks. The farm aims to restore the island’s corals reefs, featured in the Netflix film “Chasing Coral,” and provide restoration projects with hardier corals by working together with scientists, communities, coral farmers, businesses, investors and governments.

Although the initial plan is to grow about 10,000 corals per year and serve as an education and visitation center, the long-term goal is to be growing millions of corals every year, restoring reefs worldwide. (coralvita.com)

Tamil
From 2017, a team led by H. Malleshappa, head of the Tamil Nadu State Climate Change Cell have deployed a semi-circle of concrete artificial coral reef modules 820 ft (250 m) from the vulnerable Vaan Island in the Gulf of Munnar.

Each module is 8 ft (2.5 m) in width, 6.6 ft (2 m) in height and 3ft (1 m) in longitudinal length, and weighs 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) In the first two phases, 4,600 modules have been deployed in eight months. Following signs of regenerat, with the funding from Adaptation Fund, the total number of artificial reefs is being increased to 10,000 in two layers.

Florida
In 2019, scientists working on Project Coral at The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation in Apollo Beach in Tampa have spawned an Atlantic pillar coral in a lab setting. www.flaquarium.org

This is a world-first coral reef restoration and research advancement in which Atlantic coral, living for several years at the Center as part of a genetic archive, has been reproduced through induced spawning, setting a new stage for saving coral reefs in Florida and the Caribbean. Project Coral works in partnership with London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens to create coral spawn, or large egg deposits, in a lab.

London, UK
Jamie Craggs, aquarist at the Horniman Aquarium started Project Coral and in 2013 became the first organization globally to develop protocols that replicate natural reef conditions, and the triggers for mass spawning events, in the lab, to predict and induce land-based spawning in a fully closed aquarium lab setting in order to investigate, counter and repair the impact of climate change on coral reef health and reproduction.

The team started working on the research in 2014 with the Staghorn coral, but then the focus shifted to pillar coral because of a disease that has been devastating to the Florida Reef Tract. Pillar coral are now classified as almost extinct since the remaining male and female clusters are too far apart to reproduce. This conservation effort enables coral sexual reproduction to occur entirely outside of the ocean using innovative technology. It also opens up the potential for coral de-extinction.

Southampton
Researchers led by Prof Jörg Wiedenmann at The Coral Reef Laboratory of the University of Southhampton, England have discovered that in warming oceans when some corals, instead of bleaching white, suddenly display fluorescent coloring they are fighting to survive.(Southampton.ac.uk)

Korea

POSCO (Pohang Steel Company) in conjunction with the Research Institute of Science and Technology (RIST) and the Korean government have developed Triton, an artificial reef produced by steel slag, to create a healthy environment for marine life.

POSCO has supplied 1,418 units of Triton for marine forest projects such as artificial fish reefs executed by the government and municipalities. Triton is naturally made with high %ages of iron and calcium, which work to create the ideal conditions for seaweed and algae spore growth, and purifies contaminated sediment. These reefs can also help reef populations migrate to cooler waters. (poscoenc.com)

Mumbai
Siddharth Pillai, a teenage Class XI student from BD Somani School, Mumbai, India has found a way to make modular artificial reefs using 3D printing. He has named them after the late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington.

In early 2019, several porous Linkin Park blocks, a combination of dolomite and cement in a 10-90 per cent ratio, weighing 24 lb (11 kg) each, were dropped near Puducherry in the Laccadive Sea. This design is replicable as well as stackable, enabling reefs as high as 3ft (1 m) and as wide as 66 ft (20 m) on the ocean bed. (bdsomaniinternationalschool.com)

France
Another solution has been developed during 2019 by David Branthôme, director of the Limousin Aquarium, and the I.Ceram company in Limoges, France: coral cuttings are installed on a piece of alumina (a special ceramic). Since ceramic is neutral, it does not have the disadvantages of plastic or concrete supports. (aquariumdulimousion.com)

Hong Kong
Architects and scientists at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) have developed a novel method of repairing a coral reef in the nearby Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park – they have designed and 3D-printed 128 hexagonal clay tiles whose complex structures encourages coral attachment.

Israel
Maoz Fine and a team at Bar-Ilan University, together with the coral research lab at the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences on the Gulf of Aqaba in Eilat, Israel Israel having analysed why Red Sea corals are more resilient are investigating how their lessons could be used to influence coral reef health and resilience in the central Pacific Islands. (life-sciences.biu.ac.il)

Australia
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its partners – including Southern Cross University – have also successfully pioneered a technique dubbed ‘coral IVF’ or larval reseeding. It is the first project of its kind to re-establish a population of juvenile corals from larvae settling directly on the reef in the hope the coral withstands the increasing threats to the reef. www.scu.edu.au

The team collects spawn from heat-tolerant corals that have survived bleaching, and rear millions of baby corals in specially designed tanks and coral nursery pools on the reef before delivering them onto target areas of damaged reefs to restore and repopulate them.

Divers use fine mesh nets to capture the microscopic eggs and sperm that float to the surface.The spawn is then placed in floating enclosures, designed by Professor Peter Harrison where they grow for up to a week before reseeding the baby corals (larvae) onto damaged reefs.

In another world first, robots are giving nature a helping hand by playing ‘stork” and delivering coral babies onto damaged reefs as part of the coral IVF technique. Known as LarvalBots, they are loaded with the coral larvae and cruise a LarvalBot trial just above the reef, spitting out the baby coral directly onto the targeted areas. a trial this year re-seeded an area of 3-hectares in just six hours.

What you can do: Adopt a coral at Coral Reef, join a coral conservation group or make a donation to their growing numbers.

Discover Solution 87: for bottles and buildings: cork

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Human Effort Planet Care

84: Cooling Coral

Problem:

Bleached coral reefs are dying around the world due to ocean anthropogenic global warming.

Solution:

Bring down the temperatures of the waters around the reefs by bringing up cooler water from deeper in the ocean. The problem is finding a long enough pipe.


Mo Ehsani, the Centennial Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona has developed innovative solutions for infrastructure renewal and repair for over 30 years.

Having pioneered the field of repair and strengthening of structures using fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) products Ehsani left the full time academic world in 2010 to devote his time to the management of QuakeWrap, Inc., a company he founded in 1994.

His products have been used in the construction industry to repair high pressure pipelines, freeway underpasses, marine piles, historical structures and more.

One of these products, called StifPipe®, received the 2016 ASCE Innovation Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers as the world’s first green and sustainable pipe.

His game-changing technology for onsite-manufactured continuous pipe, called InfinitPipe, plays a significant part in the proposed coral reef bleaching answer through piping that is long enough to continually feed cooler water from nearby greater depths to the heat-stressed coral in the shallows.

The Seychelles is a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.​ In 2010 Nirmal Shah and a team of Reef Rescuers of  the Nature Seychelles set about restoring the coral bleaching within Cousin Island Special Reserve.

Utilising the ‘coral gardening’ concept, fragments of healthy coral were collected, raised in underwater nurseries and then transplanted onto a degraded reef. In eight years, 50,000 corals have been raised in underwater nurseries, of which over 24,000 were successfully transplanted, covering the area of a football field 5,600 ft² (5,225 m2).

Based on this experience, in December 2019, Nature Seychelles presented their toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project at the Reef Futures Symposium held in Key Largo, Florida. Six participating countries in the India Ocean, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and Rodrigues have benefitted from the solution.

What you can do: Make a donation to Nature Seychelles.

Tomorrow’s solution : Green Christmas trees, in more way than one

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Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

83: Biodegradable contraceptives

Problem:

Today’s world population is 7.6 billion, and the United Nations projects that by 2100, the world population will be 11.2 billion. Can the Earth’s resources feed this many people?

Solution:

Contraceptives.


Alongside ethical family planning, sterilisation and vasectomy, the contraceptive should be regarded as a planet-protecting measure. One solution is the condom, a sheath-shaped barrier device, used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Early contraceptives were biodegradable. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC) describes a vaginal plug of lint, ground acacia branches and honey. Condoms, made of silk, were not always effective.

The ancient condom was found in Lund, Sweden, and is believed to have been made and used around 1640 A.D. It is made from pig intestine, although before latex, condoms made of sheepskin or intestine were not uncommon. Condoms made of dried sheep intestines were used by Roman soldiers to protect themselves during long campaigns away from home.

Neither rubber condoms which became available in 1855, nor latex condoms since the 1920s are biodegradable. About six to nine billion are sold a year. New innovations continued to occur in the condom market, with the first polyurethane condom, branded Avanti and produced by the manufacturer of Durex, introduced in the 1990s.

With the advent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Defiency Syndrome), the protective condom as mass-produced by Durex became even more popular. Worldwide condom use is expected to continue to grow: one study predicted that developing nations would need 18.6 billion condoms by 2015.

Biodegradable, latex condoms damage the environment when disposed of improperly and they also contain preservatives and hardening agents to make sure the rubber can withstand a fair amount of friction, making it harder for the condoms to break down in the landfill.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, condoms, along with certain other types of trash, cover the coral reefs and smother sea grass and other bottom dwellers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also has expressed concerns that many animals might mistake the litter for food.

The only biodegradable condom is made of a biological material, lambskin, made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb as used by the Romans, hence non-Vegan.

One such is the “Trojan”, a brand name of condoms and sexual lubricants manufactured by the Church & Dwight Company of Ewing Township, New Jersey. Although biodegradable it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. (churchdwight.com)

There are other methods. In 1951, the oral contraceptive pill was invented by Gregory G. Pincus and Min Chuch Chang, biologists at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Research, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Dr John Rock, obstetrician-gynaecologist of the Brookline Reproductive Clinic, Boston and again in collaboration with Dr Carl Djerassi of the Syntax Corporation, Mexico, who discovered the progestogenic agent, 19-Norsteroids. The US Food and Drug Administration approved “the pill” for public use in 1961, after extensive trials in Puerto Rico and Haiti.

The downside are the hormones in the pill, either progestin or a combination of progestin and synthetic estrogen, known as endocrine disruptors: women who take the pill end up passing some of them through their urine.

If they make it through the wastewater systems, the hormones can flush into rivers and streams altering fish reproductive systems and damaging ecosystem dynamics. The minipill is only made with progestin, a man-made form of the hormone progesterone made by the body.

Then there is the intrauterine device (IUD). During the late 1950s these were made of plastic with a nylon string. U.S. physician Howard Tatum’s innovation of the copper IUD in the 1960s brought with it the capital ‘T’ shaped design used by most modern IUDs. Together, Tatum and Chilean physician Jaime Zipper discovered that copper could be an effective spermicide and developed the first copper IUD, TCu200.

Not only does this contraceptive have incredible 99-plus % effectiveness, but it also requires just one small plastic T—either wrapped in copper or holding synthetic progesterone hormone—to prevent pregnancies for 3 to 12 years.

Physical waste is nearly nonexistent. Copper IUDs use up less than one tenth of an ounce (0.3 gm) of copper. Hormonal IUDs release small quantities of synthetic progesterone directly into the uterus, meaning that most of the hormone stays exactly where it is needed. In short, for the Planet, IUDs are the lesser of the three evils.

What you can do: When family planning, think carefully of your SOLUTION for our crowding Planet.

Tomorrow’s Solution: cooling down the coral reefs

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Human Effort Materials Planet Care

76: The cocoon that protects young trees

Problem:

Reforestation must also take place in arid and degraded land and saplings must be protected during the first months of their life.

Solution:

A biodegradable cardboard donut to protect tree seedlings.


In 2013 Arnout Asjes, Harrie Lövensteain, an arid land agronomist, and Jurriaan Ruys at the Land Life Company in Amsterdam had an innovative idea: to develop a system that enables trees to grow in arid and degraded land.

This is a 100% they call the cocoon which can hold 6.6 gallons (25 liters) of water underground to aid a seedling’s first critical year. Plantation is mapped using an AI database on land conditions.

In Matamorisca, Land Life intervened in 42 acres (17 ha) of barren land owned by the regional government and peppered them with Cocoons. Around 16,000 oaks, ashes, walnuts, rowans, and whitebeams were planted in May 2018, and the company reports that 96% of them survived that year’s scorching summer without extra irrigation, a critical mi.tone for a young tree.

The three-year-old startup recently raised US$2.6 million to expand its mission to reforest the world’s 865 million acres (2 billion ha) of degraded land. By 2030, the goal is to reach 350 million has – 20% more land than India

What you can do: If you are planning to plant trees in arid areas, check out Cocoons from the Land Life Company.

Discover Solution 77: scarves dyed with bacteria

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Energy Planet Care

75: Cloud-seeding rain-making chain

Problem:

China has to feed nearly 1.4 billion people, despite 40 % of its arable land suffering from degradation.

Solution:

Cloud-seeding rain-making chain of chambers.


The largest-ever weather modification program worldwide is named Tianhe and located across the Tibetan Plateau in China.

The name Tianhe originates from the ancient Chinese name for the Milky Way, which was the sky river that separated Niulang and Zhinyu in the folk tale “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”.

The project, developed by researchers in 2016 at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, is covering an area larger than Alaska and three times the size of Spain with tens of thousands of fuel-burning chambers for cloud seeding to channel large amounts of additional artificial rainfall into China’s arid northern regions.

In 2018, the installation of hundreds of burning chambers on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang and neighbouring areas started, with a deadline of 2022.

Throughout the past months the program has been increasingly questioned and criticized, internationally and nationally: the Tibetan plateau feeds most of Asia’s major rivers, including Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Brahmaputra.

These streams serve as lifelines for a considerable proportion of the world population. The local and transnational implications of the Tianhe project, not only in terms of water supply, are as yet unknown.

Discover Solution 76: planting trees in arid land

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Planet Care Human Effort Your Home

71: Citizen Convention for Climate (CCC)

Problem:

How to get politicians to take action on climate change?

Solution:

Citizen Conventions


In November, 150 French citizens, male and female, were drawn by lot and given eight months to discuss and form their solutions for the Planet.

On Sunday June 21, 2020, La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC) presented French President Emmanuel Macron with nearly one hundred proposals around five axes relating to the fight against global warming: produce and work, shelter, feed, move, consume.

Objective: a reduction of “at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030”. These include making energy renovation of 20 million buildings compulsory by 2040, quadrupling the amount of the bicycle fund to 200 million Euros per year, which would finance bicycle paths, increasing the bonus for hybrid and electric cars by 25%, the deployment of short food circuits, and the curbing of overconsumption.

In response, the President pledged an additional €15 billion ($16.9 billion) to help address the issue, although not all the solutions have been adopted

On a European Union level, the month before, Pascal Canfin, chairman of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, proposed an alliance for a green recovery.

This movement, which brings together together 80 ministers, MEPs, CEOs, NGOs & Trade Unions joined by around thirty CEOs (Ikea, Unilever, Danone, Saint-Gobain, H & M, etc.) In her Green Deal, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen promised a “green, digital and resilient future”.

What you can do: Join or create a citizen’s convention in your country

Discover Solution 72: eco-friendly sandblasting

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Carbon Capture Planet Care

65: Storing carbon under the sea

Problem

It’s great to capture CO2, but it needs to be stored.

Solution:

Inject carbon dioxide into spaces under the seabed.


In January 2019, the Norwegian authorities granted the Northern Lights CCS Project, a full-scale pilot CCS, carried out by Equinor (former Statoil), Shell and Total, a permit to exploit an area in the North Sea for CO₂ injections.

The partners aim to capture CO2 at three plants in Southern Norway, liquefy it, and transport it over 430 mi (700 km) by ship to a hub near Kollsnes. From there, the CO₂ will be sent offshore via a pipeline for injection into a depleted well in the Johansen formation, about 20 miv(30 km) offshore from mainland Norway.

The three plants selected for CO2 capture are Yara’s Ammonia plant in Porsgrunn, Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik, and the Fortum recycling plant in Oslo.

After completing feasibility studies for CO₂ capture in 2018, the plants are presently compiling FEED studies for the final investment decision, to be taken by the Norwegian Parliament in 2020/21.

The Northern Lights CCS Project is supported by CLIMIT, Norway’s national research programme for accelerating the commercialisation of CCS. CLIMIT aims to reach an annual CO2 capture capacity of 1.4 million tons (1.3 million tonnes) by 2022.

In May 2020 Equinor, Shell and Total made an initial investment of $680m (NOK 6.9bn) between them into the Northern Lights (CCS) project. The project will capture industrial and imported carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions to be injected into reserves from a terminal in Øygarden, on Norway’s west coast. (northernlightsccs.com)

Tip Meckel at the Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin and Philip Ringrose, an adjunct professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and geoscientist at the Equinor Research Centre in Trondheim, have calculated that the geological injection of CO₂ into 10,000 to 14,000 injection wells worldwide in the next 30 years, would meet the IPCC’s goal of using CCS to provide 13 % of worldwide emissions cuts (6 to 7 gigatons of CO₂) so achieving emissions cuts under the 2°C scenario by 2050. (beg.utexas.edu)

In September 2020, the Norwegian Government proposed to launch a $2.7 billion CCS project, named ‘Longship’, in Norwegian ‘Langskip’.

Apart from funding Northern Lights, the Government will implement carbon capture at Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik as well as funding Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste incineration facility in Oslo, providing that the project secures sufficient own funding as well as funding from the EU or other sources.

Another first-time licence, allowing offshore exploration to select a site for storing CO₂ underground, was granted in December 2018 by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA),. The holder of the licence is the Acorn CCS project, led by Pale Blue Dot Energy and centred on the St Fergus Gas Plant in northeast Scotland.

The project aims to capture 220,000 tons (0.2 million tonnes) of CO₂ from flue gases annually, for storage in depleted gas fields, beneath the North Sea. Instead of creating new infrastructure, existing offshore gas pipelines will be repurposed to transport CO₂ in the opposite direction.

In January 2019, the project estimated the available offshore storage capacity at 700 million tons (650 million tonnes) of CO₂ and suggested that the neighbouring port at Peterhead could be used to import 16 million tonnes of CO₂ for storage per year by ship, from the UK and Europe.

Before starting CO₂ injections, the Acorn project needs to apply for a storage permit from OGA, as soon a storage site has been selected.

In December 2018, the British government announced financial support for the project (£0.17 million). Earlier British CCS projects such as the Scottish Peterhead Project did not obtain public funds, after completion of the FEED studies.

At the end of April 2019, a research vessel left the Scottish coast to reach the Goldeneye Gas Platform, an abandoned offshore platform in the North Sea, about 60 mi (100 km) northeast of Peterhead.

A central part of the STEMM-CCS (Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture & Storage) project is a sub-seabed CO₂ release experiment. 3.3 tons (3 tonnes) of CO₂, augmented with inert chemical tracers, will be injected below the seafloor at the Goldeneye experimental site.

The experiment aims to test CO₂ leak detection and leak quantification with help of chemical sensors. The project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

This initiative is supported by an analysis made by a team of scientists led by Jonathan Scafidi and a team of scientists at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh of the Beatrice oilfield, 15 mi. (24 km) off the north-east coast of Scotland. Using a computer model, the team calculated that over a 30-year period, the scheme would be around 10 times cheaper than decommissioning the Beatrice oil field, which is such likely to cost more than US$ 340 million.

Discover Solution 66: using carbon dioxide to make craft beer

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Carbon Capture Planet Care

64: CO₂ capture by seaweed

Problem:

While trees absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide, there are issues with deforestation – we need more ways to take carbon out of the air.

Solution:

Seaweed.


Much of the world’s seaweed is produced in large sea-based farms off the coasts of China, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan.

With a global production of 19 million (17.3 million tonnes), seaweed aquaculture is second only in volume to the farming of freshwater fish.

A new study conducted by scientists at UC Santa Barbara found that if 9% of the world’s ocean surface were used for seaweed farming, this would sequester 58 billion tons (53 billion tonnes) of CO₂ from the atmosphere. This is just from the absorption of carbon during the growing process.

What makes seaweed a particularly appealing carbon sink is its growth rate: about 30 to 60 times the rate of land-based plants.

Grown in these quantities, seaweed may be used for the reduction of methane in cows, edible water bubbles, drinking straws and other non SUP materials.

Discover Solution 65: storing carbon dioxide beneath the ocean bottom.

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Your Home Planet Care

60: Carbon calculators

Problem:

Many people would like to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but have no easy way to measure them and guide their actions.

Solution:

Portable CO2 calculators


In 1996, William E. Rees and his PhD student Swiss-born Mathis Wackernagel at the University of British Columbia, Canada published their solution for calculating this in a book “Our Ecological Footprint”, now available in English, Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, and Spanish.

Wackernagel went on to set up a Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in Oakland, California; Brussels, Belgium, and Geneva, Switzerland. The think-tank is a non-profit that focuses on developing and promoting metrics for sustainability.

For calculating personal carbon footprints, several online carbon footprint calculators are now available.

These websites ask you to answer more or less detailed questions about your diet, transportation choices, home size, shopping and recreational activities, usage of electricity, heating, and heavy appliances such as dryers and refrigerators, and so on. The website then estimates your carbon footprint based on your answers to these questions.

Here are just some:

Do you know of other carbon calculators? Use the Comments to let us know.

What you can do: Keep on checking your own carbon footprint. 

Discover Solution 61: Iceland’s carbon fix

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Energy Planet Care

59: Solar farms on canals reduce evaporation and generate power

Problem:

In Gujarat, India, some 9,000,000 litres (2,000,000 imperial gallons; 2,400,000 US gallons) of water would evaporate annually from the Narmada canal network while many of the villages alongside did not have access to electricity.

Solution:

Use the State’s 19,000 km (12,000 mi) long network of Narmada canals across the state for setting up solar panels to generate electricity.


In April 2012, Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, inaugurated a 1 Megawatt (MW) pilot project to be built on the Narmada branch canal near Chandrasan village of Kadi taluka in Mehsana district by SunEdison India.

The project virtually eliminated the requirement to acquire vast tracts of land, limited evaporation of water from the 750 metres (2,460 ft) long canal and providing electricity to a small village of 40 homes with thatched walls and tin roofs.

The system was called canal-top solar.

Its success led to the first large-scale canal-top solar power plant in the Vadodara district of Gujarat in 2015, at a cost of $18.3 million.

Since the first solar canal project, a number of others have been commissioned in India, including a 100MW canal-top solar power project atop the branch canals off the Narmada River, stretching for a distance of 40km, at an estimated cost of 1bn Indian rupees.

Overall, Gujarat has more than 80,000km of canals meandering through the state. According to Gujarat State Electricity Corporation, if 30% of this were converted to canal top solar, 18,000MW of power could be produced, saving 90,000 acres of land.

What you can do: Share this solution in other countries suffering from aridity.

Discover Solution 60: Calculate your carbon footprint

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Energy Planet Care

58: Prickly pear ‘petroleum’

Problem:

Crops such as corn, sugar cane, soybean and palm oil, which make up 97% of biofuels worldwide, are often grown in large monocultures. This takes up land that could otherwise be used to produce food, destroys habitats and leads to less balanced ecosystems. It also leads to intense pressure on water resources, and has been linked to drought.

Solution:

Use nopal cactus (prickly pear) as the biomass


Wayland Morales, head of Elqui Global Energy in Santiago, Chile argues that ‘an acre of cactus produces 43,200 m3 of biogas or the equivalent in energy terms to 25,000 liters of diesel.

In the year 2000, Elqui Global built the first biogas plant using nopal cactus (prickly pear) as the biomass. Nine years later, in the Naucalpan de Juárez Area of Mexico, Rogelio Sosa Lopez who had already succeeded in the corn-made tortilla industry, teamed up with Miguel Angel Ake who had been experimenting with Nopal cactus as biofuel to found Nopalimex.

Nopal crops produce between 330 and 440 tons (300 and 400 tonnes) of biomass per hectare in less fertile lands, and up to 880 – 1,100 tons (800-1,000 tonnes) in richer soils. Nopal also requires minimum water consumption and its waste, if properly processed, can be turned into biofuel.

First, the cacti are cut and processed to extract flour, which is used to make tortilla chips. The remaining inedible scraps of the plant are mixed with cow dung in a bio-processor, a fermentation tank that heats the wasted cactus pulp. Then the fuel is distilled from the remaining liquid and collected via tubes and into a tank.

While Nopal biofuel produces enough fuel for the buildings that process all parts of the nopal plant in a sustainable way, a commitment has been signed with the local government of Zitácuaro, in the state of Michoacan, to provide official vehicles, from police cars to ambulances, with cactus-based fuel with world’s first cactus-based biogas refueling station selling at 2 pesos (US$ 0.61) per liter since March 2018.

With the amount of Nopal growing in Mexico, this biofuel could eventually replace the traditional use of gas and fuel of non-renewable sources.

Discover solution 59: Solar farms built on top of canals

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Planet Care Human Effort Materials

55: Plastic fishing tall ship

Problem:

Plastic waste in the ocean is breaking down into irretrievable microplastic.

Solution:

A ship to study how this is happening, picking up the waste and taking it back to port.


In 1979 Mary T. Crowley founded Ocean Voyages, an international yacht chartering business that offers a full range of services, including educational sailing program., sailing vessels, expedition ships, motor yachts and scuba and snorkeling program all over the world.

She also started the Ocean Voyages Institute at the same time, a nonprofit organization with a mission of preserving the maritime arts and sciences, the ocean environment and island culture.

In 2008, Crowley founded Project Kaisei, bringing together a team of innovators, scientists, environmentalists, ocean lovers, sailors, and sports enthusiasts with a common purpose: to study the North Pacific Gyre and the marine debris that has collected in this oceanic region, to determine how to capture the debris and to study the possible retrieval and processing techniques that could potentially be employed to detoxify and recycle these materials into diesel fuel.

Their first research expedition in the summer of 2009, on board a 140ft (43m) sailing brigantine S/V Kaisei, was critical to understanding the logistics that would be needed to launch future clean-up operations and testing existing technologies that had never been utilized under oceanic conditions.

From 2011, sometimes twice a year, Mary Crowley and volunteers from the Ocean Voyages Institute have voyaged out on S/V Kaisei from Hawaii to clean up trash floating in the ocean.

During June 2019, the brigantine’s crane pulled out 40 tons (36 metric tons) of abandoned fishing nets as part of an effort to rid the waters of the nets that entangle whales, turtles and fish and damage coral reefs.

The cargo ship returned to Honolulu, where 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) of plastic trash were separated from the haul of fishing nets and donated to local artists to transform into artwork to educate people about ocean plastic pollution.

The rest of the refuse was turned over to a zero emissions energy plant to incinerate it and turn it into energy,

What you can do: Pick up plastic waste near you, keep our Planet Tidy!

Discover Solution 56: Buildings made with organic materials

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Your Home Planet Care

53: Planet-oriented board games

Problem:

The manufacturing of a board game is not environmentally friendly and it may only concentrate on abstract concepts such as “Sorry” or “Snakes and Ladders”.

Solution:

Board games that involve players in cleaning, repairing and protecting our Planet.


In 1996, following the success of his first board game Bioviva, Jean-Thierry Winstel of Montpellier, France decided to create a range of question-and-answer-themed educational games for family and children that would raise awareness of respect for nature in an eco-design approach.

They must be exclusively made in France, so reducing CO₂ emissions related to their shipment and linked to an eco-design approach i.e. paper, cardboard and FSC-labelled wood and plant-based inks, respectful of people and the environment.

This approach, unique in the publishing sector, allowed Bioviva to constantly improve its production methods and to reduce its ecological footprint ever more. The games are offered at attractive prices, in order to make them accessible to the greatest number.

One popular product is a board game called “Nature Challenges” where children Tomorrow’s the incredible diversity of animals and try to protect them on 5 continents. Added to their board and card games, Bioviva launched “Nature Challenges” books.

Bioviva has produced more than 2.5 million copies of “Nature Challenges”, translated into various languages and sold in 13 countries.

In February 2018, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Nature Challenges card game Bioviva announced the launch of the Défis Nature club, a 12-page promotional magazine including gifts (cards, posters) and contests.

Alongside Bioviva, other games encourage players to focus on our Planet. “Earthopoly” is inspired by the “Monopoly” board which since 1935 has been translated into 47 languages, played in 114 countries and has sold more than 275 million copies.

To play Earthopoly, a player chooses their token (an object from nature) and starts at “Go Green.” Players increase their property value by collecting Carbon Credits and trading them in for Clean Air. But try to avoid getting sent to the Dump!

Like Bioviva’s “Nature Challenges”, not only is Earthopoly a game about the earth it is entirely eco-friendly itself as the game pieces are either made by nature or completely recyclable, the ink is vegetable oil-based, with the game box made from 100 % recycled Chip board.

All the paper is recyclable and is made with 10 % recycled pulp that comes from a mill that purchases pulp that is monitored by a responsible third party forest management group. Green Power was purchased for the electricity used to manufacture the paper for the box (renewable energy in the form of wind, hydro, and biogas).

While TDC Games produces “The Green Game” for 2 to 6 players, with its coasters growing actual wildflowers, Global Horizons Ltd. produces “Envirochallenge – The Ultimate Challenge for the last Endangered Species MAN.”

Ethica”, based on the principles behind the collaborative ethical investment group Reseau Financement Alternatif, lets up to 27 players assume the role of an investment banker or venture capitalist and see how well their green intentions stand up in the world of international finance.

Wildlife Web”, inspired by Pokémon card games, created by Montana-based author and educator Thomas J. Elpel, is a dynamic ecology strategy game that engages players to experience what life is such as for a red-tailed hawk or yellow-bellied marmot foraging for food, raising young and defending against predators. It gets players’ animals to cooperate or compete with one another.

What you can do: Acquire and play Planet-oriented board games at home.

Discover solution 55: how recycled bottles can make eco-cement

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Planet Care

52: Artificial Intelligence birdwatcher

Problem:

In 2016, a first-of-its-kind study estimated that the hundreds of utility-scale solar farms around the US may kill nearly 140,000 birds annually.

Solution:

An artificial intelligence platform dedicated to studying avian behaviour at large-scale solar facilities around the US.
In 2020, the US Department of Energy awarded a team of researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois a $1.3 million contract to develop the platform.

Using and adapting a camera system designed to monitor pedestrians and cars, the team is planning to mount the AI bird watcher on top of a solar panel. In this way they plan to gather data to help help ornithologists unravel the mystery of why our feathered friends are dying in droves at solar farms.

Discover Solution 53: Go-Green board games

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Materials Planet Care Your Home

51 Bird protecting glass

Solution 50 in a 1-a-day series of 366 creative, hopeful ideas to clean up, repair, protect our planet:

Problem:

Billions of birds are killed annually following collision with the large panes of glass used in modern buildings.

Solution:

Bird protection glass with an ultraviolet-reflective coating. Birds can see the coating, but it is virtually invisible to humans.


In the late 1990s Dr. Alfred Meyerhuber, a German attorney with a personal interest in birds and science read an article in a magazine about orb weaver spiders and their use of stabilimenta. Orb weaver spiders, common worldwide, build their distinctive webs using strands of silk with UV reflective properties.

Meyerhuber was good friends with Hans-Joachim Arnold, the owner of Arnold Glas, a manufacturer of insulated glass products headquartered in Remshalden, Germany. As a young business owner, Arnold was motivated by technical and environmental challenges and looked for ways to set Arnold Glas apart from its competition.

When Meyerhuber brought the orb weaver spider’s strategy to his attention, Arnold was intrigued. Despite initial resistance by the board of directors, he convinced the company to undertake the necessary research and put his company to work developing a product that would have the same UV-reflecting qualities as spider silk.

Arnold Glas’s Head of Research and Development, Christian Irmscher, led the technical product development of ORNiLUX. The coating was developed together with technicians at Arnold Glas’s sister company, Arcon, located in Feuchtwangen, Germany, which specializes in thin low-e and solar coatings for architectural glass.

The companies tested many different coating types and patterns. The researchers found that a patterned coating (versus a solid coating) made the contrast of the glazing more intense: the coated parts reflected UV light while the interlayer sandwiched between two layers of glass absorbed the UV light. The two functions together enhanced the reflective effect.

Although the specific pattern of a spider’s web inspired the solution, Irmscher and his team had to design a unique pattern for the window coating in order to make the application process practical.

After patenting the transparent UV coating in 2001, Arnold Glas introduced ORNiLUX SB1 Bird Protection Glass, its first commercial product using the technology, in 2006. The vertical lines of UV-reflective coating used in this product were sometimes perceptible but very subtle and not visually distracting.

Three years later, the company introduced an improved second-generation product, ORNiLUX Mikado. The name refers to the crisscrossed UV pattern of the design and comes from the German name for the game of pick-up sticks.

The new pattern and improved coating of Mikado is nearly invisible to the human eye. Independent pre-market testing by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany, demonstrated that ORNiLUX windows are highly effective at protecting against bird strikes.

The first project in the USA to use ORNiLUX was at the Center for Global Conservation at the Bronx Zoo and was completed in 2009. The architects specified ORNiLUX SB1 for the entire building, but in the end it was used in only a corner conference room that had the biggest risk of bird strikes.

An ongoing monitoring program has noted a dramatic difference between the portions of the building with and without the bird-safe glass.

A year later, Munich’s Hellebrunn Zoo used ORNiLUX Mikado in the design for a new outdoor polar bear exhibit. Due to the zoo’s location near the Isarauen Nature Reserve, which harbours many wild kingfishers, bird collisions were a significant concern.

The zoo had other outdoor glass enclosures with a history of bird strikes, and previous attempts to use hawk silhouettes and bamboo plantings to protect the birds had failed.

ORNiLUX Mikado was used for the polar bear enclosure and pelican house. Zoo officials were pleased to find a solution that did not block visitors’ views of the animals and noted in the first months after it was installed that no birds had collided with the glass.

Ongoing testing of existing and new configurations continues with American Bird Conservancy’s Flight Tunnel Test Facility located at the Carnegie Museum Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, PA.  Additional tests are conducted with a flight tunnel facility in Rybachy, Russia.

At the American Institute of Architects Expo in June 2019, Arnold Glas debuted new oversize production capabilities for its bird-safety glass, ORNILUX. It is now offered in a maximum size of 126 x 472 in (320 x 1200 cm).

What you can do: Tell local architects and builders about Ornilux.

Discover Solution 52: How to stop birds crashing into solar panels

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Materials Human Effort Planet Care

50: Rocket high speed composting machine

Solution 49 in a 1-a-day series of 366 creative, hopeful ideas to clean up, repair, protect our planet:

Problem:

The conventional composting of biowaste is slow.

Solution:

The Rocket high-speed composting machine.


In the early 1990s, John Webb of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, wanting to speed up the composting process on his smallholding, developed a machine that could treat his garden waste and horse manure and turn it into highly nutritious compost in just 14 days.

Working closely with DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) after the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, Webb and his son Simon continued to develop the machine to ensure it was fully compliant with the Animal By-Products Regulations to safely treat other organic wastes, including food waste.

They founded Tidy Planet to build and commercialise a machine they called the Rocket.

It comprises a continual flow system with waste being mixed with dry woodchip for compost production. The capacity of the electrically-powered Rocket range of machines goes from 154 gallons (700 liters) up to 3.9 tons (3.5 tonnes) per day.
France

Tidy Planet expanded its globally-acclaimed range of Rocket composters, with the creation of the B1400, a machine specially-commissioned for its French distributor: Alexandre Guilluy and Fabien Kenzo of Les Alchimistes needed equipment that would process up to two tonnes of a mix of food and shredded wood wastes every day – in line with the site’s waste processing threshold.

Les Alchimistes have a fleet of trailer bicycles and small vans which go around Paris collecting food waste from supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels across the French capital.

This is assembled at Lil’O known locally as L’Île-Saint-Denis an island in the River Seine, 6 mi (10km) north of The Eiffel Tower where it is turned into compost, to be sold to urban agriculture and gardening.

Due to the project’s resounding success, Les Alchimistes has received support from the French Government and EU funding to set up similar food waste collection centres in Lyon, Toulouse, Toulon, and Marseille, each of them using Tidy Planet’s B1400 Rocket. Les Détritivores based at the Ecosytème Darwin in Bordeaux are carrying out a similar operation.

China

In China, another solution dealing with food waste is to feed it to cockroaches (Blattodea) which then become either feed for livestock or for curing oral and peptic ulcers, skin wounds and even stomach cancer. At one farm, run by Li Yanrong in the Zhangqiu District, over 1 billion cockroaches are consuming some 55 tons (50 tonnes) of kitchen waste every day.

Elsewhere in Sichuan, a company called Gooddoctor is rearing 6 billion cockroaches, while Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co., in Jinan plans to set up three more such plants, aiming to process a third of the kitchen waste produced by Jinan, home to about seven million people.

What you can do: Tell local authorities about advances of Rocket composters in large towns.

Discover solution 51: The miracle of birdsafe window panes

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Planet Care

48: Bioremediation for oil spill clean ups

Problem:

Oil spills spread toxins throughout marine and shore ecosystems, killing and causing genetic defects in flora and fauna.

Solution:

Bioremediation  –  the use of microorganisms, plants, or microbial or plant enzymes to detoxify pollutants into non-toxic substances.


Since the iconic 1969 oil well blowout in Santa Barbara, California, there have been at least 44 oil spills, each over 10,000 barrels (420,000 gallons), affecting U.S. waters. On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez hit Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef in Alaska, spilling 40.9 million litres (11 million gallons) of crude oil over 1,000 miles (km of shoreline.

It is thought to be one of the worst man made environmental disasters ever. But three years later the worst oil spill in history, the Gulf War oil spill spewed an estimated 8 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf after Iraqi forces opened valves of oil wells and pipelines as they retreated from Kuwait in 1991.

The oil slick reached a maximum size of 101 miles by 42 miles and was five inches thick. is a process used to treat contaminated media, including water, soil and subsurface material, by altering environmental conditions to stimulate growth of microorganisms and degrade the target pollutants.

The bioremediation breakthrough came in 1972 when George M Robinson, assistant county petroleum engineer for Santa Maria, California successfully used microbes to clean out the fuel tanks on the RMS Queen Mary, the start of implementing bioremediation towards contamination sites.

This was improved by Ananda Chakrabarty, an Indian American microbiologist, who carried out performed bacterial genetics to mate the pollutant-eating bacteria into a single “super-bug” Alcanivorax borkumensis, that would eat multiple components of oil.

Following the Exxon Valdez spill, cleanup by physical methods such as skimming the water and spraying the rocky shore with detergents was used first, and the result dispersed about two-thirds of the oil. Then the genetically engineered bacteria and other bacterial strains were added to consume the remaining oil.

Because bioremediation became a prototype in the almost never-ending oil spill cleanup sites since, it has involved many interactions within scientific researchers all over the world.

Provided that proper nutrients are present, an oil spill that was estimated to be cleaned by natural conditions in 5-10 years could be cleaned in 2-5 years with the use of bioremediation.

Daniel J. Kevles, “Ananda Chakrabarty Wins a Patent: Biotechnology, law, and Society, 1972-1980”, Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1994), pp. 111-135

Discover solution 49: Look! No microplastics!

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Planet Care Materials

43: Bionic Leaf fertilizer

Problem:

Plants have been transforming sunlight into things that we can use for fuel for 1.6 billion years. However, with a few exceptions, they are still only about 1% efficient.

Solution:

In 2009, Daniel D. Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) founded a startup called Sun Catalytix to develop a prototype design for a system to convert sunlight into storable hydrogen which could be used to produce electricity.

During the next two years, Nocera developed what he called the “artificial leaf,” a silicon strip coated with catalysts on each side. When placed in water and exposed to sunlight, the leaf splits the H2O to release oxygen on one side and hydrogen on the other.

In August 2014, Lockheed Martin purchased the assets of Sun Catalytix, and now Sun Catalytix technology is being commercialized under the venture, Lockheed Martin GridStar Flow.

Soon after, Nocera was appointed Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, teaming up with Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School to create the “Bionic Leaf”.

This merged the artificial leaf with genetically engineered bacteria Ralstonia eutropha that feed on the hydrogen and convert CO₂ in the air into alcohol fuels or chemicals.

The first model that used the nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy created a reactive oxygen species that destroyed the bacteria’s DNA.

Abnormally high voltages were used to prevent the microbes from dying, but they also resulted in reduced efficiency. An improved model removed the nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy catalyst and allowed the team to reduce the voltage.

The new catalyst improved the efficiency of producing alcohol fuels by nearly 10%. The Bionic Leaf operates at solar-to-biomass and solar-to-liquid fuels efficiencies that greatly exceed the highest solar-to-biomass efficiencies of natural photosynthesis.

With this system, Xanthobacter bacteria which pull nitrogen from the air and use the bioplastic, which is basically stored hydrogen, to drive the fixation cycle to make a bacteria-laden yellowish liquid that can be sprayed onto fields.

But the real proof is in the radishes. In greenhouse experiments at the Arnold Arboretum, radishes grown with this X. autotrophicus fertilizer ended up more than double the size of control radishes grown without added fertilizer.

The researchers have used their approach to grow five crop cycles. The vegetables receiving the bionic-leaf-derived fertilizer weigh 150% more than the control crops. In 2018, Nocera founded a second company called Kula Bio, to focus on the development of renewable and distributed crop organic fertilization and land restoration.

When mass-produced, these tiny solar “carbon-negative” fuel factories could be inexpensive enough for everyday people to use to power their vehicles and run their lights and appliances.

Farmers with a small on-site array of bionic leaves could create enough fertilizer for their own needs instead of buying container-loads of synthetic fertilizer produced at sprawling CO₂-spewing factories and shipped for thousands of miles.

Daniel D Nocera and Dilek K Dogutan,“Artificial Photosynthesis at Efficiencies Greatly Exceeding That of Natural Photosynthesis” Accounts of Chemical Research 52(11) · October 2019.

Discover solution 44: soybean automobiles

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Materials Planet Care

42: Seaweed to shoes

Problem:

Sargassum algae accumulates on beaches and releases poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulphide and ammonia when it decomposes.

Solution:

Turn the algae into shoes, office supplies, packaging, slabs, glasses frames, mugs and more.


Since 2011, the Caribbean islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago have faced larger and more frequent invasions of Sargassum algae and the problems associated with it.

One method of cleaning is by spade and barrow onshore. Another is by raking boats offshore. Barrages of shallow nets floated by long buoys can be used to ward off algae drifts, depending on wave height and current. Several companies have found solutions to convert Sargassum into compostable biomaterial.

Having worked in plastics manufacturing for 15 years where he specialised in the development of biomaterials, in 2010, Rémy Lucas of Saint Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine), France founded Algopack to commercialise his formula for sourcing Sargassum powder to produce a biomaterial from which office supplies, packaging, slabs, glasses frames, mugs, caddies chips etc. are made.

This included finding a system to capture Sargassum, stabilize it and make sure it does not rot during shipping from the Caribbean.

With two other Breton companies, Olmix (Morbihan) and Codif (Saint-Malo), Algopack founded an acceleration company called BioAlg. Its objective is to create a worldwide chain and to structure the collection of Sargassum, on an industrial scale. In 2015, the company was bought by Lyreco, the European leader in the distribution of office supplies and personal protective equipment. Based in Valenciennes, the group employs 2,500 people in France.

In Quintana Roo, a Mexican state on the Yucatán Peninsula, after five years of research and development, Jorge Castro Ramos of Guanajuato founded Renovare to make clothing-grade textile fibers and environmentally friendly footprint objects using recycled plastic and sargassum.

Traditionally, Sargassum was used as a natural fertilizer or a herbicide to improve the harvest of products like corn, squash, chili and beans.

Recently, this fertilizer process has been commercialised by SUEZ, through its subsidiary SITA Verde. Supported by ADEME, in Guadeloupe, SUEZ has introduced Sargassum from the territory of the riverbank deposits of the Riviera du Levant in its recovery processes.

Discover solution 43: fertilizing with the “Bionic Leaf”

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35: Buildings that absorb carbon dioxide

Problem:

The high levels of CO₂ in cities need to be reduced, captured and stored.

Solution:

Living architecture like an algae curtain that can absorb as much carbon dioxide as 20 large trees.


Dr Marco Poletto and Claudia Pasquero of EcoLogicStudio in East London collaborated with University College London, UK and the University of Innsbruck to create a digitally designed and custom-made bioplastic flat photobioreactor that uses daylight to feed living micro-algal cultures and releases faint bio-luminescent shades at night.

Unfiltered city air enters the curtain from the bottom, and as it travels up through the liquid in the tubes, the micro-algae within capture the carbon dioxide molecules. This process of photosynthesis also produces oxygen, which is released from the top of the unit.

One curtain’s ability is equivalent to a mature tree. The main material of the hardware is ETFE, a hi-tech polymer with exceptional transparency, durability, fire retardant properties and recyclability. Another beneficial by-product of the process is biomass, which the algae grow from the sequestered carbon, and which can be burnt for energy or turned into bioplastic material, such as that used to make the curtain.

EcoLogicStudio’s first large-scale design for the Milan EXPO 2015, was an interactive pavilion containing living microalgal cultures that oxygenated air and provided shade from the sun.

In 2018 an installation of bio-curtains, composed of 53 x 22 ft (16.2 x 7 m) modules and dubbed “Photo.Synth.Etica”, was installed at the Customs and Revenue House in Dublin, during the Irish capital’s Climate Innovation Summit, created in collaboration with climate-KIC, EU’s most prominent climate innovation initiative.

Another installation was set up outside the House of Nobility Palace in Helsinki as part of that city’s Fashion Week. Here they absorbed approximately 2 lb (1 kg) of CO₂ per day, equivalent to that of 20 large trees.

In 2020, London will see its first Photo.Synth.Etica on display, as part of an exhibition at The Building Centre in June. Bio-curtains would have to be adopted on a very large scale to start making any meaningful effect.

Find out more: ecologicstudio.com   •  photosynthetica.co.uk

Discover  solution 36: plastic food containers made from sugar cane

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34: Billion Tree Tsunami

Problem:

Pakistan has lost large swaths of forest to decades of felling, which makes it vulnerable to deadly flooding and landslides.

Solution:


In 2014, Muhammad Tehmasip and a team from the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa launched Plant for Pakistan (Plant4Pakistan) and set about planting of 1 billon trees over five years. The Billion Tree Tsunami, as it is now known, reached its goal in August 2017.

On September 3, 2018, after becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan launched a 5-year, country-wide 10 billion tree plantation drive from Makhniyal, KPK to combat the effects of AGW. This is part of the even greater initiative launched by the IUCN to restore 370 million ac (150 million ha) of degraded and deforested land worldwide by 2020, and 865 million ac (350 million ha) by 2030.

Discover solution 35: Buildings that absorb CO2

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31: Beach-cleaning machines

Problem:

Beaches all over the world are littered with plastics and other garbage and detritus from local sources and from washing up on the shore from sources thousands of miles away.

Solutions:

Efficient beach cleaners that can gather this material and transport it to properly regulated waste and recycling facilities.

In the early 1960s, Harold S. Barber of Naugatuck, Connecticut explored the idea of building a raking prototype to clean beaches of unwanted seaweed, cigarettes, glass, shells, coral, stones, rocks, sticks, and man-made debris including plastic from wet and dry sand with ease. He named the unit the SURF RAKE Model 500.

Mr. Barber’s novel invention quickly proved to be the most effective tool for the emerging beach cleaning industry in the United States. Since then, Barber has sold more beach cleaners around the world than any other brand, being used on six continents and in over 90 countries.

The tractor-towed 600HD, weighing almost 4,000 lb (1,800 kg.) can clean up to 9 ac (3.1 has) an hour, and with a 7 ft (2 m) wide cleaning path. In the 1990s, Rockland of Bedford, Pennsylvania, developed their Beach King featuring a 2.2 cubic yard hopper to take more debris. (h.barber.com)

Over in Europe, Unicorn of Torredembarra, Spain, manufacture a range of six beach cleaners from the Musketeer, a medium-sized, self-drive sifting-type machine with a vibrating mesh for surface cleaning of small areas for cleaning small beaches to the Magnum with its large capacity rear hopper that can unload at a height of 8 ft (2.50 m) and its operating width of 7.5ft (2.30 m.)

Metaljonica in the Teramo Area of Italy make EcoBeach, a macchina puliscispiaggia, powered by an 8.4 hp Honda GX270 unleaded petrol engine.

Until now, tractors towing beach cleaners have been diesel or gasoline-engined, but with the latest developments of the battery-electric tractor, they may soon become cleaner and silent.

Totally electrically driven, the Solarino developed by DronyX in 2013 a remote-controlled beach-cleaning machine, developed in Montemesola in the province of Taranto, Apulia, south eastern Italy by three mechatronics engineers – Alessandro Deodati, Emiliano Petrachi and Giuseppe Vendramin.

The Solarino includes a removable rake that scoops and discards debris. It can also be used to tow up to 2,200 lb (1039 kg) when the rake system is not attached. The Solarino is powered by 3 full isolated gel batteries and also by solar energy. The wide matched tread helps to optimize the traction system performance both on wet and dry sandy terrains. (www.dronyx.com)

Discover solution 32: beer from stale bread

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23: Detecting and combating asteroids

Problem:

Asteroid collisions can destroy or seriously damage the Planet.

Solution:

Programs to detect asteroids on hazardous orbits.

These programs were started after there was much public discussion of the fact that the Hollywood film industry had just spent much more money on making two fictional films about asteroids that were heading for Earth than had ever been spent on attempting to detect such asteroids in time to do anything about them.

One key scientist who has made great progress in killer asteroid warning systems is John Tonry. Tonry studied mathematics at Princeton University until 1975 and received his PhD in physics from Harvard University in 1980.

In 1986 he became a professor at MIT, a year later, he moved to the Department of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. There, between 1993 and 1995, with Kenneth Chambers and Nicholas Kaiser, Tonry discovered two asteroids.

Between 2002 and 2010 Tonry developed the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS). This was an AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) funded effort to build a telescope and imager to carry out wide-field (3 deg), deep imagery of the whole sky.

What was different about Pan-STARRS was that they were doing this every night and covering the whole sky many times to try to detect any asteroid whose orbit makes it a potential danger to Earth.

The work does not itself reduce the risk of an asteroid strike but might make it possible to take action to divert the asteroid or evacuate the impact area.

Even more efficient is ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System), developed at the University of Hawaii with US$ 5 million funding from NASA.

Its first telescope at Haleakala observatory (ATLAS-HKO) became fully operational at the end of 2015, and the second one 100 mi. (160 km) away at Mauna Loa observatory (ATLAS-MLO) in March 2017.

In the photo above, Frank Melsheimer of DFM Engineering stands beside the ATLAS telescope.

Replacement of the initially substandard Schmidt corrector plates of both telescopes in June 2017, brought their image quality closer to its nominal 2 pixels (3.8 in./9.7 cm) width and consequently improved their sensitivity by one magnitude.

NASA then confirmed that it will provide US$3.8 million over the next 4 years to support the construction and operation of two asteroid-hunting observatories south of the Equator. Researchers plan to build one facility in South Africa, but are still deciding on a location for the second outpost.

ATLAS comprises four 200 in. (500 cm) telescopes that can only see things 10x brighter than Pan-STARRS can, so it is only able to work to a third or a half of the distance of Pan-STARRS.

What is different is that ATLAS patrols the entire, visible sky twice a night, whereas Pan-STARRS is much slower. Pan-STARRS is narrow and deep; ATLAS is wide and shallow.

The motivation for ATLAS is to provide warning of an asteroid on its final, impact trajectory: maybe a week’s warning for a 2 Mton explosion and three weeks’ warning for a 100 Mton explosion.

Recently ATLAS found a 10 Mton asteroid ( K17Q60) that missed us by 10 Earth radii, and another (A103wzq) still on the MPC confirmation page whose MOID (minimum orbital intersection distance) could be less than an Earth radius (it might hit us).

The Last Alert part of the system name acknowledges that ATLAS will find smaller asteroids years too late for potential deflection but would provide the days or weeks of warning needed to evacuate and otherwise prepare a target area.

This gives enough time to evacuate the area of people, take measures to protect buildings and other infrastructure, and be alert to a tsunami danger generated by ocean impacts.

Tonry explained that if ATLAS had been up and running, astronomers might very well have seen the Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Russia in 2013 and could have provided one to two days’ warning, so enabling most of the injuries it caused to be avoided, because news broadcasts could have warned people to keep away from windows.

Most of the people injured were looking at the meteor’s dust trail through windows that shattered on the arrival a couple of minutes later of the shock wave caused by passage of the meteor through the air.

In August 2018, ATLAS obtained US$ 3.8 million of additional NASA funding to install two telescopes in the Southern hemisphere, one of which will be hosted by the South African Astronomical Observatory, while the other most likely installed in Chile.

This geographical expansion of ATLAS will provide visibility of the far Southern sky, more continuous coverage, better resilience to bad weather, and additional information on the asteroid orbit from the parallax effect. The full ATLAS concept consists of eight telescopes, spread over the globe for full-sky and 24h/24h coverage.

So far ATLAS has discovered 33 potentially hazardous asteroids and 304 near-Earth asteroids. For his work on asteroid surveillance, in 2016, asteroid 40919 was named after John Tonry and in 2018 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Another machine involves the seven-year Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)’s kinetic impactor. U.S. agencies, principally the Air Force, and the European Space Agency will each design and build three NEO (Near Earth Orbiting) shield kinetic impactor spacecraft, for a total of six. Each will be propelled by Fregat, the upper stage of the Soyuz launcher. The hope is that at least two of them will hit the asteroid with enough force to slightly deflect it. The effort costs billions of dollars, but this is a crash program, with the highest international priority.

In 2022, DART is scheduled to reach an asteroid renamed Dimorphos (ex binary pair DidymosB) which means ‘two forms,’ so reflecting the status of this object as the first celestial body to have the ‘form’ of its orbit significantly changed by humanity, in this case, by the DART impact.

The European Space Agency (ESA) compares the size of Dimorphos with the Great Pyramid of Egypt. DART’s exploits will be witnessed by a small CubeSat companion from the Italian Space Agency.

Two years later, ESA will launch its own Hera spacecraft to visit Didymos and examine the results of the DART mission.
Nonetheless, in March 2019, scientists reported that asteroids may be much more difficult to destroy than thought earlier. In addition, an asteroid may reassemble itself due to gravity after being disrupted.

A team of researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands have developed a neural network called “Hazardous Object Identifier” that they say can predict if an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Using a supercomputer, the researchers fast-forwarded through a simulation of 10,000 years of orbital movements of the Solar System’s planets.

The team then reversed the simulation, simulating future Earth-impacting asteroids by flinging them away from Earth and tracking their exact locations and orbits.

Their new AI identified 11 asteroids that were not previously classified by NASA as hazardous, and which were larger than 100 meters in diameter. They also focused on space rocks that could come within 4.7 million miles of Earth.

The team is now working on making its neural network even more accurate.

John Tonry “Description of ATLAS” Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific volume 123, pages 58-73, 2011;
Traci Watson,“Project that spots city-killing asteroids expands to Southern Hemisphere” nature, 14 August 2018;
John D. Hefele, Francesco Bortolussi and Simon Zwart, “Identifying Earth-impacting asteroids using an artificial neural network,” Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 634, February 2020.

Discover solution 24: Electric automobiles

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19: Apps for the environment

Problem:

Smartphone apps have now become essential to our daily lives and collectively consumer enormous amounts of energy. Despite having almost incalculable capabilities to gather and analyse data from literally billions of sources, they do not meaningfully contribute to helping us address climate and other environmental problems.

Solution:

Harness these data capabilities and enable users to adjust their lifestyles both individually and collectively to address planteray problems.

Many environmental groups have their own apps, such as FridaysForFuture – the people’s movement that has grown from  Greta Thunberg’s school strikes and the World Wildlife Fund’s Together that brings you closer to 16 endangered species.

Others available include:

There are apps such as

iRecycle and

My Little Plastic Footprint »» Apple  »» Google which help reduce landfill

as well apps like Forest from Trees.org supported by sponsors that facilitate  tree planting.

Apps are  clearly an area with enormous potential for growth and impact.

Do you have an app you would like to have included in this solution? Click on ‘Comments’ at the top right of this post to let us know.

Discover solution 20: Solar panels triggered by rain

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18: Anti-Poaching Intelligence Devices

Problem:

Rhinoceros and elephant populations are being decimated as poaching for their horns is still widespread.

Solutions:

Some governments have de-horned rhinos to deter poachers, though that requires constant monitoring, and it has not always proven effective. More recently, conservationists have begun using drones and microchip implants to enhance surveillance of threatened population.

In 2014, Paul O’Donoghue, a biologist at Protect, a British non-profit focused on conservation and animal welfare developed the Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID).

This system uses GPS tags, heart rate monitors embedded under the skin of rhinos. If the animal’s heart rate suddenly elevates or plummets, RAPID will send an alert to operators at a control center, who can then remotely activate a tiny camera implanted into the rhino’s horn.

A leather collar around the animal’s neck also tracks its GPS coordinates, allowing park authorities to quickly deploy anti-poaching forces if the live camera footage suggests that it is being attacked.

By 2015, Protect had moved from proof-of-concept trials to small-scale field testing at secret locations in South Africa with the plan for a larger scale launching across the continent. Protect also began to explore alternative ways to power the heart monitor battery, including solar and kinetic energy.

The organization said that RAPID could also be adapted to other threatened species such as elephants, lions, or even whales. A version for tigers was also in development. (hsi.org/rhinos)

Raoul du Toit, director of the Lowveld Rhino Trust in Zimbabwe and Africa Program Coordinator for the International Rhino Foundation told The Washington Post  “the downside is that the video camera is likely to last only hours, maybe days or at best weeks on a rhino before being smashed, obscured with dirt, or otherwise rendered useless”.

Moreover, even if the device was able to alert authorities to a potential poaching incident, it is unlikely that on-the-ground forces would be able to respond as quickly as required.

Another alternative is dye.

In April 2013, takepart magazine reported that 100 rhino from Sabi Sands Game Reserve, part of Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa, had their horns drilled and a liquid poison/dye mix injected by the Rhino Rescue Project in an effort to deter poachers and devalue the price of horn.

Since then, it has been reported that rhino from a number of reserveshave been similarly treated, including:

Leon Barron from King’s College London and Mark Moseley from the Metropolitan Police Service have collaborated to develop an ivory fingerprint kit, which has been dispatched to more than 40 countries.

They told BBC Future “The powder it contains can reveal prints up to 28 days after poachers have touched the ivory, compared to two or three days with conventional methods”.

Barron also recently showed that it is possible to determine the age of a person from the DNA contained in their blood, using artificial intelligence. The hope is that this can be replicated and validated for blood stains at crime scenes, and potentially used to solve future wildlife crimes.

Jamal Firmat Banzi, “A Sensor Based Anti-Poaching System in Tanzania National Parks,” International Journal of Scientific & Technology Research Volume 4(4),  April 2014; Pachyderm No. 55 January – July 2014.

Discover solution 19: Apps for our environment

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15: Amphibious water bomber super scoopers

Problem:

Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) – climate change – is contributing to fires in the wilderness that are larger, more frequent and more devastating.

Solution:

Various aircraft have been used over the years for firefighting..  The yellow and red amphibious water bombers or “super scoopers” Canadair CL-215 and the CL-415 are the most commonly used.

They are assembled at the Bombardier Aerospace facility near North Bay/Jack Garland Airport in North Bay, Ontario, and tested on Lake Nipissing. In 2018, there were 165 in-service CL-215 and CL-415s serving 11 countries.

The CL-415 can scoop up to 1,620 US gallons (6,140 liters) – that is  6,140 kilograms / 13,500 pounds – of water from a nearby water source in ten minutes, mix it with a chemical foam if desired, and drop it on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks.

In 2019 the European Union set up a RescEU fleet of seven Canadairs and six helicopters from six EU member states: Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Croatia and Greece.

They are also available to other European countries and adjoining states, which can request to use the planes in an emergency to fight forest fires across Europe. Most recently they were used during the forest fires of California in August-September, 2020.

Discover solution 16: turning animal dung into electricity

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