This month is packed with exciting news to inspire you and keep you updated on the latest events, a glimpse into a brighter future. The whitest paint ever invented, a new 'forest town', bees trained to smell the coronavirus, oxygen extracted from Mars, Netflix going net-zero emissions, a digital twin of the Earth, and the latest trends in emerging technologies discussed at the GTG summit - these are all amazing innovations for a better future. Most importantly, they show us the possibilities.
Systemic thinking is the key to transforming our society from exploiting nature into a symbiotic relationship; one where the prosperity of humans coincides with the thriving of the natural world. Curious to see the Symbiosis in Development method in action? The SiD method and its application were recently presented at the Toolshed Meet up with Systems Change Finland. If you missed it you can still find it here.
Stay curious, keep up to date, and get inspired, all in a quick read.
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Energy & Environment
- Whitest-ever paint could cool the Earth. White-painted roofs have been used to cool down buildings for centuries. Currently, reflective white paints only reflect 80-90% of sunlight and absorb UV light. This new paint can cool surfaces below ambient temperatures, reducing the need for air conditioning.
- U.S. urged to invest in sun-dimming studies as the climate warms. The US government should launch a federal research program to explore whether it’s feasible - or wise - to artificially cool the Earth by altering clouds or injecting particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight.
- Recommended practice for floating solar power plants. The Dutch consultancy company DNVGL, specialized in energy transition, has published the world's first guideline for floating solar plants, through a collaboration with 24 industry participants.
Business & Economy
- Businesses and Universities partner up for a better future. CHANEL and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership have announced a three-year partnership focused on education, innovation, and research. The collaboration aims to find practical solutions for businesses, develop an education program, and advance research. An amazing opportunity for students to apply smart sustainability ideas to societal problems in an applied context.
- Netflix goes net zero emissions. Netflix wants to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022. Their plan is called Net Zero + Nature - see how it works here.
- Local initiatives for plastic-free grocery. This retro milk float is helping Londoners pursue a zero-waste future. This sustainable truck has stopped almost 13,000 pieces of plastic from entering circulation.
Science, Technology & Design
- Global Technology Governance Summit 2021. Held between the 6th and 8th of April, the GTG Summit aims to be the foremost global multistakeholder gathering dedicated to ensuring the responsible design and deployment of emerging technologies. Examples are AI, self-driving cars, robotics, and more. You can find all the key insights of the 2021 summit in this report.
- Scientists are building a digital twin of the Earth. Europe is building a digital twin of our planet to predict and prepare for future scenarios. A copy of the main climate mechanisms involving oceans and the atmosphere will help scientists in developing strategies to adapt to and prevent climate change. This project is a multidisciplinary effort, supported by AI technologies.
- The lab of the future. AI, big data, and robotics are disrupting the way R&D is done. Recent developments include autonomous laboratories. “We have to enter the era of rapid prototyping in materials,” Aspuru-Guzik says. Rapid design techniques used in industries such as automotive could tackle climate change by rapidly prototyping materials for storing sun and wind energy.
- An eco-development involving 42,000 homes. Singapore is building a new ‘forest town' with abundant green spaces and underground roads.
Leading Circular Cities. What does a circular city look like, and how can local governments and citizens come together to create one? During the ICLEI World Congress of last April, experts such as Martina Otto - UN Head of Cities & Lifestyle - explored the “Circular Development Pathway Towards Sustainable Cities”. Here are the resources and recorded sessions.
- Breaking down the silos between practitioners. Cambridge University course director Dr. Kayla Friedman discusses the need for collaboration in the built environment industry. She identifies the key change agents within the sector and outlines what they can do to catalyze the shift to sustainable project delivery.
Unexpected and Intriguing
- Training bees to smell the coronavirus. Start-up InsectSense and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research have trained bees to extend their tongues when they smell the coronavirus.
- If everyone on Earth sat in the ocean at once, how much would sea levels rise? The answer is 6,1 micrometers, which is only about the width of a human hair. Sea level rise from Antarctic melt could be more than 4 meters for the coming 1000 years. This helps to put things in perspective.
- Breathable oxygen extracted from Mars. For the first time ever, a resource has been extracted for human use on a different planet. NASA has extracted oxygen from Martian air.
- Green or white? The ‘Too white’ green sector is changing its working scheme to become more diverse. Just 3.5% of those who work in the environment sector are from a minority, according to research by Policy Exchange.
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