Cool Energy Alternatives
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Thinking Outside the Box
With global warming rapidly settling in as a result of our fossil fuel dependency, it’s imperative that we start considering other means of energy. To make myself clear, I don’t believe that technology will provide the quick fix solution to climate change. It can however be part of the sustainable transformation we need to adopt.
As the scientists have warned us, the planet is warming because of our over-exploitation and abuse of the earth’s natural systems. Deforestation, pollution, and poor water management will eventually catch up with us all, if it hasn’t already.
It’s evident that we have to change the manner in which we are doing things and consider the type of society we want to be living in. This is where imagination, hope and optimism come in.
We can dream of a world in which society is powered by innovative means that can meet our demand (check out my post on renewables), while still remaining in harmony with the earth’s natural equilibrium. These dreams can then provide the basis for scientists, engineers and inventors to design and build the future. It is possible!
All we need is the right motivation, and the time to think out the problems. Question the status quo and consider alternatives (see also Alternative Plastics). I’m confident that we can work this one out together, and I’m happy to share some cool design ideas from some amazing creators. Scroll down and be inspired. 😉
Leveraging the force of the earth to create energy. How awesome is that?! Basically you pull up on the cord, and suspend a weight from it. As it descends (gravity) it powers a little generator that can supply power to an LED light. Pretty sweet!
Harnessing the power of motion, Uncharted Power is looking to create energy from everyday kinetic interactions. They started out with play items (including the soccer ball, a.k.a. the Soccket, and a jump rope), and have since moved on to furniture, flooring, and even shopping carts and strollers. There is still a lot in the development phase, but I’d encourage you to stay connected.
This one is a gift from nature. Algae is already a considerable source of oxygen for the planet (see The Most Important Organism?), but it can also provide light. Indeed, there are a number of organizations working on the notion of (micro) algae-powered lamps and lighting. It seems like an obvious win. The algae will suck up some CO2 and in exchange, offer up some stunning bioluminescence.
Mushrooms already perform an astounding array of services in the natural world. Not only are they a source of food, but they also assist with the decomposition of organic material, and more recently, we discovered that they also help trees communicate with one another (Smithsonian). If that wasn’t enough, scientists are now looking to mushrooms for energy (BBC).
Indeed, mushrooms represent an abundant source of food for all manner of organisms (other than people), including cyanobacteria. This bacteria can in turn generate a small amount of electric energy upon consuming the fungus. Still in the infancy phases of discovery, but pretty incredible stuff!
Certainly an ingenious revelation, but one with precedent in the natural world. If any of you have watched David Attenborough’s Planet Earth 2 (BBC Documentary series), you might have already seen the clue. In Episode 5 Grasslands, Attenborough explains how grass cutter ants power their own complex civilization. They clear enormous areas of grassland, not to eat it themselves, but to provide it as food for the fungus that they in turn will eat. Once again nature can show us the way (check out Biomimicry).
The above ideas are but a taste of the extraordinary discoveries being made. There is so much cool stuff out there when you decide to start looking, but they need our support to continue on their experiments and development. I believe governments have a responsibility to their citizens in investing in the education and technology that will help transform society.
We know that we have to stop burning fossil fuels. That much is certainly clear. What alternatives we decide on however is up to us. This means we absolutely have to demand that our countries stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry (see A Staggering $5 Trillion!), and develop alternatives instead.
You can also help by choosing to divest from fossil fuels and support some of these Kickstarter projects. If you can’t contribute to them financially, you can also support them by helping to share their awesome ideas. These alternatives are indeed pretty amazing and can totally use your encouragement. In disseminating their ideas, you are also helping to inspire others towards a greener and safer future.