Written by Nicole Barker, ESLLC 2016-2017
2016 was a tumultuous year for climate science. It was again one of the hottest years on record, there was more extreme weather, more extinction, and the election of Trump. However, more awareness has been raised around the issue of climate change which led to many significant, beneficial technologies and ideas created in 2016 that will help slow down the change.
In the United States, only about 300 black-footed ferrets remain after suffering through habitat loss, hunting, and disease. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service flew drones over Montana that dropped vaccines down to the ferrets to protect them against the sylvatic plague. The sylvatic plague was introduced to America in the 1900s in San Francisco from Asian trading ships carrying rats. The disease is then spread via fleas that are transferred to prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets which then die. The vaccine was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Army. The drone drops the vaccines at 30ft. intervals. This proved to be successful in protecting the black-footed ferret and there are now plans to do the same here in Colorado and Arizona.
In India, a local entrepreneur turned plastic bottles into 3D printing filament. This process could decrease plastic waste and alleviate poverty in developing countries. People working in the waste picking industry (an estimated 15 million) in developing countries make less than $1 a day. High-density polyethylene is converted into 3D printing filament by flattening and shredding the bottle and then printing the now filament using a self-replicating rapid prototyper.
Another invention from India in 2016 was edible cutlery. Bakeys, the company, makes the cutlery from wheat, rice, and the ancient grain sorghum. These ingredients prevent it from becoming soggy and consumers have the option to pick the flavor they want from savory, sweet, and plain. It is estimated that the U.S. alone uses 40 billion plastic utensils annually. Another similar invention to this comes from the U.S. company Saltwater Brewery. They make edible, biodegradable beer pack rings made from barley and wheat waste that disintegrate after two hours of being in the ocean. These are safe for animals to eat and prevents the rings from suffocating them.
Two surfers from Australia, Peter Ceglinski and Andrew Turton invented the Seabin. A natural material bag filter collects trash from the ocean with an electric pump. Miami plans on using this device in 2017 as there is an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste that is thrown into the oceans globally.
While the world struggles to deal with believing in and alleviating the effects of climate change, it is inventions like these that will help the world stay healthy and raise awareness of climate change.