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20 Weird, Crazy Ideas for Helping the Earth

Many ideas for stemming environmental catastrophe have turned out to be impossible, dangerous, or just … ridiculous.

Good on paper, bad in practice: from fart offsets to eco-beer, blocking the sun to Green Burning Man, here are 20 of the craziest  innovationsinventions, and ideas to save the planet – most of which have fallen miserably short of the mark. In the  modern green movement rush to solve our numerous environmental crises, scientists have been scrambling to develop innovative technologies and creative solutions. Some of these developments – from small-scale interventions like  cargo container homes to citywide green urban re-designs – have been lauded for their ingenuity and potential. But other concepts, while initially offering promise, have turned out to be impossible, dangerous, or just…ridiculous.

Global warming. Food shortages and water scarcity. Fossil fuel depletion. Deforestation and extinction. Freakish  weather. Methane pollution and acid rain. Dwindling resources. It’s an understatement to say we’re facing major environmental issues as the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close. No wonder scientists are trying anything and everything. Even things that don’t work. At all.

1. Artificial Islands and Floating Cities

Land reclamation project turned  private playground for the  rich and famousartificial island projects such as Dubai’s  The World have come under criticism for harming the environment and disturbing delicate ecosystems as developers  claim the projects actually benefit the planet like natural islands. Despite the fact that self-professed environmentalists  Brad and Angelina have snapped up their own faux islet, The World is an environmental embarrassment compared to contemporary  architectural trends toward prefabricationportability and the  recycling of old structures into new houses.

Other artificial islands claiming to preserve the environment are credible, such as (where else?) the Bay Area’s  Treasure Island project, China’s  Dongtan, and the high-tech  Lilypad – the amphibious answer to a future of rising tides. These  artificial cities are carbon neutral, self-sufficient and 100% sustainable. However, a lack of scalability and prohibitive cost for at-risk regions makes projects like Lilypad a novelty, not a global solution. A more likely (and practical) solution will be to  retrofit existing cities and suburbs…although the  Superstar is cool, but the nuts and bolts like  bedrooms, bathrooms &storage spaces have yet to be worked out.

2. Human-Powered Floating Gyms

Human-powered floating gyms – a great way to transport yourself downriver as long as you don’t mind working out in an encased shell with a dozen other sweaty bodies. Could this be New York’s answer to the problem of traffic congestion? While scientists have been working to find a way to harness wasted energy expelled by people at  gyms, the practicality of floating gyms is debatable. Would people want to work out on their way to meetings and appointments? Would the resources used to build the gyms make the energy savings even worth it? Isn’t walking or biking on existing roadways a more feasible (and inexpensive) method of transport?

3. The 15-Year Light Bulb

Everyone would love love a  light bulb that lasts 1.5 decades. Think of all the energy humans would collectively save. Unfortunately, though  many were excited by the, um, glow of this idea, the radioactivity of the bulb means we still need a nontoxic answer to the problem of wasted electricity when it comes to  lamps and lighting.

4. Failed Hybrids

Hybrid concepts are hot, but not all  futuristic vehicle concepts are realistic. Like the extreme  gravity car. Or even  Hybrid SUVs that get worse gas mileage than most sedans and require tremendous virgin resources to produce. But then there is Ford’s failed  hybrid revolution and the plight of the  electric car. Though there are plenty of great  hybrids on the market these days, as well as some great upcoming  models and concepts, many have been dismal failures. The  air car is a kick-ass concept, but  time will tell if it can get significant mileage with the media or consumers. And of course, there is the infamous  water-powered car.