You’ve heard about the impact that our technology-driven population is having on the planet – from cars, to energy factories, to the over-consumption of the earth’s resources.
It’s causing a lot of problems.
Yet, inventors are also using this technology to improve lives across the planet. Here are a few of their creations (or soon-to-be ones):
1. A high-tech sieve that makes the ocean drinkable
Yes, you can already turn the ocean into drinkable water through existing, industrial-scale desalination plants.
But these plants are often costly and can damage the environment: They use large amounts of energy, produce greenhouse gases and can harm marine life.
So, researchers in the UK have developed a sieve made out of graphene that may be able to filter out salt using less energy.
That could help provide safe, clean, drinkable water – which is a rare resource in many countries.
In fact, the United Nations predicts that in less than a decade, 14% of people around the world will not have access to sufficient water resources where they live.
2. A drone that pollinates
So much of what you eat and drink every day – apples, carrots, chocolate, even coffee – relies on pollination, which allows plants to reproduce.
In fact, about 75% of the world’s crops are produced with the help of pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
Yet these insect pollinators belong to a group that’s facing extinction, according to a UN report.
So researchers in Japan are testing drones to see if they can carry pollen from one plant to another – just like a small insect.
The researchers’ drone was able to pollinate a very large flower, but there’s still a lot more work to do before these machines can carry out the work of bees.
3. Biodegradable bullets
Protecting the environment might seem like the last thing the US military is worried about. Just this year, however, the US Army asked for proposals for biodegradable ammunition to replace the existing rounds it uses during training exercises.
The current spent rounds – the bullet casings that are ejected from a weapon after it’s been fired – are believed to take hundreds of years to biodegrade, according to the Pentagon, and they contain components that could harm the soil and water.
As a result, the US Environmental Protection Agency says that military facilities make up the majority of the country’s most polluted sites.
So the US Department of Defense is asking for new ammunition that contains seeds to produce food for animals: “This