Environmentally-Friendly Biolamp Concept

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Engineers typically consider the ability to transform pollution into fuel a holy grail of the applied sciences. A Hungarian engineer may have been able to do just that, however. Peter Horvath is attempting to market a device termed a biolamp that lights up the street while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide from the surrounding atmosphere. I think this is a really great idea if it can get off the ground. Read More →

What’s Killing Our Honey Bees – And What’s at Stake?

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Along with other pollinators (which include hoverflies, butterflies and moths), honey bees perform a crucial role in the production of one-third of all the food we eat. Honey bees alone pollinate roughly fourteen billion dollars’ worth of food crops annually. They comprise a necessary part of the living ecosystem, and we would be hard-pressed to supply our world’s food needs without them. Read More →

Solving Environmental Problems Through Metabolic Engineering

Environmental problems, such as depleting natural resources, highlight the need to establish a renewable chemical industry. Metabolic engineering enhances the production of chemicals made by microbes in so-called “cell factories”. Next Monday, scientist Professor Sang Yup Lee of KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) will explain how metabolic engineering could lead to the development of solutions to these environmental problems. Professor Lee’s work is cited below for reference. Read More →

Overpopulation & Implications for the Future

As the world’s population grows, the world’s problems seem to be growing right along with it. Many of these problems were poorly understood in the past. Few people could have predicted the problem of agricultural emissions, for instance.

Growing enough food for a burgeoning population is becoming increasingly difficult. Fewer researchers have commented on what resource consumption to produce that food is doing to the world’s environment. Moreover, there is a theoretical limit to the amount of food that can be produced. The world may very well reach a peak population before it finally begins to level off.

Another major issue comes from the total amount of human waste produced at any given time. Humans consume oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Sewage is a major issue. In fact, many researchers have predicted that wars will soon be fought over access to clean drinking water and other basic necessities.

Many systems of controlling the population have failed. However, it’s interesting to note that many wealthy nations have aging populations. Falling birthrates are actually a major problem in some of the world’s richest countries. While the population continues to boom in newly industrialized powers as well as the third world, nations that have had massive economies for a long time are aging rapidly. We’re seeing this in the U.S. right now.

As smaller nations become wealthier, they are less likely to become overpopulated. People living in an industrialized society are less pressured to have large numbers of children. Moreover, the stress of having other obligations limits their amount of time to develop massive families. While unnatural methods have seemingly failed to control the spiraling populations of third world countries, economic development and technology may do it organically.

Other mitigation efforts are starting to be discussed as well. While extraterrestrial migration has long been seen as science fiction, it’s a realistic proposal. Space colonies and terraforming techniques are genuinely within the realm of possibilities…if we can only get started! That means that people might be living amongst the stars much sooner than anyone may have thought. Until then, however, more drastic control methods will remain in place. Most of these, with the exception of economic development, are highly undesirable.

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Carbon Cycles in Extraterrestrial Atmospheres

A great deal of time is spent discussing the carbon cycle and what it means for the Earth’s climate. It seems that scientific journalists are very focused on issues surrounding the absorption of carbon. However, comparatively few people discuss what these theories could mean when applied to space exploration. Venus, for instance, lacks a natural carbon cycle. It currently lacks oceans, which means that no great carbon sink absorbs anything. There’s no biomass to take in gas either.

That doesn’t mean that humans couldn’t create one. Forests and reefs could be constructed over a long period of time to terraform the planet. While it would take decades, its not as unrealistic as one might think. Likewise, Mars could actually stand to benefit from the greenhouse effect.

As climatologists learn more about the Earth, they develop models that can be used to develop other planets. Nearly any terrestrial object in our solar system that has an atmosphere could be reshaped and used as a cradle for whatever life forms were deposited on it. Policymakers had better be sure that life doesn’t exist on a rock before attempting such a procedure, however. It’s better to be safe than sorry in that situation.