Global warming and climate change – two phrases that often incite spirited debates and spur people to action. Unfortunately, too often, they’re also phrases that make people feel tired and uninterested, because they feel unempowered and lost when they have to think about how to deal with its enormous impact.
Click start to play today’s Crossword, where we look at ‘smog’ and how to reduce the effects of climate change.
But it’s not all bad news. Scientists, engineers and even people from creative fields, around the world, are working hard at coming up with innovative solutions to rehabilitate and protect the Earth. Here are a few that are worth knowing:
1. Smog-free tower
Dutch artist and designer Dan Roosegaarde invented a tower that doesn’t just help clean up the air in cities, but also repurposes smog into gemstones. Think of it as a giant vacuum cleaner – at a towering height of seven metres, the tower sucks in smog from its surroundings using positive ionisation technology. As it does so, it releases filtered air through six-sided vents, letting out more than 30,000 cubic metres of clean air per hour. The fine carbon particles that are collected in the process can then be condensed to create small gemstones, which can be embedded in jewellery items like rings and cufflinks.
2. Express tree planting
According to the Worldwide Fund for Wildlife, the Earth loses 18.3 million acres of forest each year – that’s equivalent to 27 football fields full of trees disappearing every minute. Since trees are vital for combating the effects of climate change, UK-based company BioCarbon is trying to match the pace of industrial deforestation, by planting trees with drones. Their drones hover six feet above the ground and fire tree seeds so fast that they get embedded into the soil. The organisation expects to revitalise ravaged forest land by planting 1 billion trees per year.
3. Plastic-eating enzymes
According to a July 2017 report in the National Geographic, if current trends continue, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills by 2050. And a whopping 91 per cent of plastic in the world isn’t even recycled! All of this non-biodegradeable plastic causes enormous harm to wildlife and marine life, and scientists have found that it’s even threatening human health by infiltrating our food and water. But a team of researchers in Japan are doing something about it. Scientists accidentally discovered a bacterium that was eating plastic in a waste dump in Japan, in 2016. They put it under a microscope, carried out various tests and successfully managed to alter an enzyme that the bacterium produces, to make it even better at breaking down plastic. The enzyme is now able to decompose plastic in a matter of days – far faster than the hundreds of years it usually takes for the material to decompose.