The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, tucked away on a Norwegian island far above the Arctic Circle, is often described as humanity’s last hope against extinction after some global crisis and is popularly known as the “Doomsday Vault.” Although its mission is to keep the world’s seeds safe, it wasn’t actually created to reseed the planet after a world-wide catastrophe.
Geothermal energy uses the heat trapped beneath the Earth’s surface to generate electricity. Typically, geothermal energy plants tap into the steam from natural sources such as geysers, or they draw water from hot, high-pressure underground sources. The hot vapors are then used to drive electric turbines.
Car tires are generally considered environmentally unfriendly because they are predominantly made from fossil fuels. Natural rubber is generally not used anymore; most tires are made from isoprene, which is chemically very like rubber but is produced by thermally breaking apart molecules in petroleum in a process called cracking. The isoprene is separated out and purified and then reacted to form the artificial rubber that is the major component in car tires. The tires eventually end up discarded in giant piles that represent one of our biggest waste disposal problems.
Increasingly, conservation organizations are increasingly relying on satellite imagery to help save wildlife. The Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit focused on chimpanzee conservation, uses NASA’s and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite images to guide their chimpanzee conservation strategies.
Because of its Arctic location, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States. The past year has been the warmest on record. The forces of erosion and increasingly powerful storms have resulted in the imminent risk of destruction for at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities. Many are predicted to become uninhabitable over the next few decades. Residents of these places are likely to join the growing flow of climate refugees around the globe.
California’s trees are dying. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than five years of drought in California has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest. In fact, 62 million trees have died this year alone – a 100% increase from 2015.
College students have often spearheaded uprisings and revolutionary ideas. A group of BYU engineering students is trying to start a solar-cell revolution.
The U.S. has just turned on its first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. In the meantime, offshore wind continues to grow by leaps and bounds in Europe. Wind energy in the European Union accounts for 12% of its electricity supply. Until 2011, offshore wind comprised only 5-10% of the newly-installed wind energy capacity; now it about one third of the new installations.
The Cuomo Administration recently released the New York State Offshore Wind Blueprint, a plan to advance the development of offshore wind along New York’s coastline.