The beginning of the new year has made us wrap things up and draft the list of good intentions. Humans do and so does environment. 2016 was the year of many green innovations that encouraging the future, but it was also the warmest year ever (and unfortunately we already knew in February) and the beginning of a new era of climate change, due to the higher average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What to expect then from 2017, in particular thinking about biodiversity and environment? On what to focus attention?
An international team of experts addressed the same questions also to the participants of the eighth Horizon Scan of Emerging Issues for Global Conservation and Biological Diversity. The answers they come up with have been recently published in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, and they can be considered as 15 eco-trend emerging and useful as guidelines to forestall any risks and opportunities.
During 2017, a few things will be to avoid if we want to preserve the environment. First, the sand: to eliminate - or nearly in the field of construction industry, since the excessive extraction has caused alterations in the ecosystems of seas and oceans. To avoid even the fences, often used by politicians to prevent refugees migrations, but which create damage to the fauna. And finally also the landfills, which have changed the way animals feed themselves.
A couple more things will instead be monitored, such as offshore waves, increased in intensity and height in the last two decades. But even pollinating insects, especially bumblebees: environmentally friendly, yes, but the wrong pollination can lead to the spread of diseases among the flora. Agriculture on the other hand, could receive aid from bacteria and fungi: their capabilities will help to stimulate the growth of pests in crops; to save coral reefs in danger because of the high temperatures would be thinking to replace the bacteria that live in cohesion with corals with others able to tolerate the heat better.
To be encouraged: wind farms in floating turbines, good to capture the energy of the wind in the middle of the oceans and the use of lithium-air batteries. New entry, a class of enzymes known as lyctic polysaccharide monooxygenases is emerging as a potentially powerful tool for use in converting plant material to liquid fuel and industrial chemicals. Another innovation comes from Iceland, where the researchers have come up with a promising strategy for storing carbon dioxide underground: dissolve it in water and inject it into basaltic rocks.
In conclusion, the environment will benefit from technology progresses. Underwater robots will be able to crawl on the bottom to control the presence of invasive species; highly specialized electrical sensors will detect rare species in the area by recognizing different smells; bionic leaves, able to carry out photosynthesis, will help the natural ones to accomplish this task. With the advance of progress in technology and computer science it’ll also possible to maintain, monitor and sell the most of the energy produced from renewable sources without waste and pollution, but also to control any illegal trade of wildlife.
The environment is ready to put its good intentions into practice. And are you ready to help it?