From green pensions to ice-making submarines, here are 6 inventions that could save the planet

By Monica Athnasious

Published Aug 21, 2021 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

The climate crisis has led to a lot of doomism (guilty as charged), so it’s important to remember the positive changes happening, the progress that is being made (no matter how small) and to have optimism for a better future. Here’s a list of weird and wonderful ways people have developed to help combat climate change.

1. Ice-making submarine

There have been some insane out-of-the-box designs and inventions to help combat the melting of ice caps, but one concept from Indonesian designers is the most adventurous yet—an ice-making submarine. 

In a recent design competition held by the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA), the concept won second place for its bold idea to “refreeze the arctic.” The proposed submarine would dip beneath the ocean’s surface in order to fill the large hexagon-shaped well on its body. When the submarine resurfaces, the salt in the water would be removed via the vessel’s desalination system. Then, the water would be frozen onboard with a “giant freezing machine”—whatever that means—and would float away once the submarine submerges to repeat the process. Not sure this is actually feasible but it’s a cool idea.

2. Getting cows to eat seaweed

So we all know by now that animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to the climate crisis. If you don’t, you’ve got a lot of reading to do. Now, there seems to be a solution to that big methane problem—you know, cow farts—and it might surprise you, seaweed. Researchers who studied this, introduced seaweed into the feed of cattle and monitored the results over a period of five months found that the cows produced 82 per cent less methane. Maybe we should all get more seaweed into our diet…

3. Green pensions

Green pensions could be the “most powerful weapon” to combat the climate crisis, so what are they? If you’re a working adult you probably have a pension plan—your employer usually signs you onto one when starting your employment. However, you can decide to switch your plan to a different provider at any time. A green pension plan aims to only include companies that are having a positive impact on the environment and are sustainable.

Switching to green pensions or an ethical pension plan could be the biggest shift you could make as a consumer. According to Make My Money Matter, “greening your pension is more effective at cutting your carbon than stopping flying, eating less meat or buying an electric car.” The platform warns that your current plan could be used to fund deforestation, climate damage and tobacco. Finding a plan that invests in environmental, social and governance (ESG) makes sure that your money isn’t being used to destroy the planet.

David Macdonald, founder of The Path—an ethical financial advisory service that specialises in positive impact investing—told The Financial Times that “our research indicates that moving a £100,000 pension pot with a traditional portfolio with oil and gas companies to a positive impact portfolio is the equivalent of taking five or six cars off the road a year.” So what are you waiting for? Make the switch, I’m going to!

@wwf_uk

A simple change that can help fight carbon emissions! #LearnOnTikTok #GreenPensions #ClimateChange #ReduceCarbonEmissions

♬ original sound - WWF UK

4. Wall-E AI cig robot

Littered beaches have unfortunately become a norm, but now there seems to be another robotic solution—the BeachBot. The robot is designed to clean up beaches by collecting small litter like cigarette butts. The design—which is still a prototype—has a clever AI algorithm that utilises image recognition and can already identify cigarette butts. The BeachBot “picks up a cigarette that is recognised with sufficient certainty and throws it into its waste bin.” If for some reason, the robot cannot determine the litter then actual people are called in to help. Who knows? You might see a Wall-E looking robot rolling around on your next beach trip. Help it out, don’t litter.

5. Seed bombs

Okay you’ve probably already heard of seed bombs but they are still worth mentioning. Firstly, not to worry, they’re the friendliest explosion you’ll ever have in a bomb. Seed bombs are little balls composed of compost, seeds, nutrients and clay that could well be the solution to replanting our trees. In a video uploaded to sustainable information page Waste-Ed, they cite “this is what planting up to one billion trees per year looks like.”

In a style of planting called ‘guerrilla gardening’ thousands of seed bombs are dropped from the sky using planes or helicopters as a means to quickly repopulate the vegetation that has been destroyed. Using these bombs could be an efficient way of combating the ever-increasing number of trees cut down and could be the key in fighting climate change. You know what you have to do. Go get some seed bombs and help the world grow.

@sustain.ly

Drop the 'bombs' and let wind, rain and Mother Earth do the rest! 📹 sri_lanka_air_force (IG)/ VintageAirRally (YT)/ Gorilla Gardening (YT) #planttree

♬ Listen - Official Sound Studio

6. Painting streets ultra-white

Painting streets white could help fight climate change, but how? Purdue University scientists in Indiana, US, have developed an ultra-white paint that they say could help combat global warming. Painting walls and roofs white to deflect heat from the sun has been done for centuries—I mean take a look at Santorini. However, Purdue states regular white paint can often get warmer; instead, its proposed ultra-white paint reflects up to 98.1 per cent of sunlight

This makes it even more effective than an air conditioner. It does this through its chemical compound barium sulfate—which is made up of variously sized particles that work to “scatter” the sun’s rays and create an immediate cooling effect. Painting roads with this could potentially significantly reduce the heat absorbed into the earth. Some cities like Los Angeles have already begun painting their streets white to counter the heatwave. So, do you think this could work?

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