The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that scientists are now 95 percent sure that global warming has been set in motion as a direct result of human actions, and the planet has already begun to feel these effects. The United States experienced the hottest year on record in 2012, polar ice caps have melted faster in the past 20 years than in the past 10,000, and extreme weather events have become more frequent. Given this grim data, it is important to ask what steps we can take to counteract this issue, and how human ingenuity can step up to the plate to solve this grave dilemma.
In collaboration with the minds behind The Curve Report from NBCUniversal, PSFK wanted to investigate the evolution of the rhetoric surrounding environmental issues, and the different ways in which climate change is being addressed.
According to The Curve Report, 88% of Gen Xers and Ys expect brands to take measures to be environmentally friendly, and 83% are more likely to buy products from brands that go green. On the other hand, more consumers would rather explore and experience nature (60%) than attempt to preserve and protect it (40%). Faced with this shift in consumer opinion, the challenge rests in the hands of brands, artists, scientists and innovators to develop contemporary solutions that not only address the issue of climate change, but educate and inform people about the future.
Some brands have responded to this challenge by building initiatives to help their customers get out and experience the natural world. Jeep has created the first GPS with a function to help drivers get lost in nature. The ‘GPS to Get Lost’ app is designed to give drivers the power to let their GPS take them ‘God knows where,’ allowing them to choose their preferred terrain from several options like mountain, sand or woods. The GPS will then take them to one of 28 off-road destinations, helping them to discover new places and disconnect from their regular lives. This initiative puts the GPS in control, so that Jeep owners can immerse themselves in the experience of driving in the best natural habitats.
Getting to the root of the issue, companies have also been developing products that counteract the effects of climate change. One of the largest contributors to global warming are the buildings we inhabit, but what if there was a simple way to make all of these structures carbon neutral? UK company Lignacite has developed the Carbon Buster, a building block that actually removes carbon from the atmosphere. Made from over 50 percent recycled material, the brick is an amalgam of cement, sand and water, and features wood particles that absorb carbon dioxide and store the gas in the block itself, rather than emitting it into the atmosphere. According to the company, the blocks are suitable for most building projects and also offer greater noise absorption than industry standards. The Carbon Buster is a strong step towards providing architects and construction companies with a material that minimizes carbon dioxide emissions.
On the other side of the issue, according to The Curve Report, there’s a growing sentiment that perhaps humankind has passed the point at which preservation is feasible, with 73% of Gen Xers and Ys believing this is the case. Even if the fate of this planet is sealed, all is probably not lost. Last year, an astronaut named Don Pettit began an unusual writing project on NASA’s website called ‘Diary of a Space Zucchini,’ which took the perspective of a zucchini plant growing on the International Space Station (ISS). The project is an important one, for if we do eventually exhaust the Earth’s livability, space farming could prove vital to the survival of our species. Around the world, governments and private companies are doing research on how we are going to grow food on space stations, in spaceships, and even on Mars. Currently it costs roughly $10,000 a pound to send food to the ISS, and cracking the code of space farming is a major step towards imagining what human life might look like independent of the earth. ‘Diary of a Space Zucchini’ was a success, and although the plant has not yet been consumed, it marks a major step forward in human self-sustainability.
Looking ahead, it is difficult to say exactly how these environmental issues will play out. According to The Curve Report, three-quarters (73%) of 18- to 49-year-olds say that “humans are an important part of the ecosystem, and nature should evolve with us.” While the worst is likely still to come, it can be assumed that as knowledge about the issue of climate change grows, so too will the number of innovative solutions created by forward-thinking individuals, that will provide us with new ways to frame our relationship with the earth.
For a closer look at what our green future might look like, be sure to head over to The Curve Report to check out Green Rush, which examines our relationship with the planet and solutions to issues going forward.