20 Weird, Crazy Ideas for Helping the Earth
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Humans tend to look to technological innovation in hopes of saving the planet, but the simple truth is that consuming fewer resources is (or was) the best hope. And that means no more babies. Especially for Americans – they are living as if there are 5 earths instead of 1. Unlikely, however, until humans no longer feel compelled to continue the species and the Pope no longer feels compelled to keep millions in the Middle Ages with his rants against birth control. The urge to procreate and religion: good luck taking these on, environmentalists.
From the Asus bamboo paneled laptop to the flower you can grow in a plastic case hooked up to your computer, many “green” home gadget inventions are not only silly but require the use of virgin resources to produce. Other dumb inventions to “help” the environment include the Petapotty (an indoor platform on which your dog can dump – to prevent harm to lawns because you forgot your baggy), the Go Green paper shredder (it shreds your paper into squares, because you don’t own scissors), the so-called Eco Kettle (Barbie says: measuring is hard!), the solar-powered fan hat (don’t ask), the nano-silver washing machine that eliminates the need for detergent (because silver strip mining is eco?), and many more. There’s nothing like a good coat of greenwash to remind everyone that silly gadgets are not going to save the planet.
Biophony is an important element of environmental stability, and with the widespread problem of noise pollution harming animals and stressing humans, scientists are looking for answers. The Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain is convinced that sonic cloaks are the remedy to camouflage too much noise. Ostensibly, this will encourage people to repopulate cities, reducing suburban sprawl, but what happens if your neighbor’s apartment is on fire and you’re blissfully sleeping through the screams?
Oh, rich people. They’re so cute! From pristine environmental enclaves for the superrich that turn out to be harmful to Kevin Costner wasting $40 million on useless green initiatives, to Madonna plastered on a green Vanity Fair as she spends $120 grand a year on plastic bottled water, to celebs claiming to be green while their lifestyles are anything but, rich people and green = FAIL.
A researcher named Christopher Doughty of the University of California at Irvine noticed that plants in hot, arid regions are hairy – and this unique characteristic enables the plants to reflect harmful near-infrared light and drive more efficient photosynthesis. The proposed solution: a hairier, furrier landscape, coming to a backyard near you. Unfortunately, disturbing natural ecosystems by introducing alien plant species is a poor idea. And while plants could be genetically engineered to be as furry as their desert counterparts, the practicality of this green solution is questionable at best. Extra reflection could mean less water evaporation, which would actually heat the planet further.
Send satellites into space, where they unfurl 1.5 mile-long solar arrays and send limitless clean energy to earth. Japan is already investing heavily in this technology. One problem: the beam could theoretically miss the receiver and fry, say, a neighborhood. Researchers are working on a solution to this potential disaster, but so far no luck.
One passionate, if nutty, scientist named Wallace Broecker has a desperate plan to save the planet: “plant” millions of massive trees all over the globe at a cost of $600 billion a year. Fake trees, at that. The trees will be capable of sucking up carbon dioxide, thereby theoretically containing the climate change threat. Broecker is the scientist who originally coined the term “global warming”, but his scrubber tree scheme isn’t sticking.