Introducing the Climate Solutions Inspired by Nature

From sensors inspired by dandelion seeds, to sensors installed on the heads of seals. Sometimes nature itself provides the inspiration for modern environmental technology.

Autor*in Mark Newton, 04.27.22

Translation Lara Sophie Sander:

When it comes to developing the next generation of climate change solutions, Mother Nature has often already beaten us – by several million years. Plants and animals have evolved over millennia to exist in harmony with their habitats and overcome challenges – some of which are now being faced by researchers. Recently, RESET looked at several projects which drew inspiration from nature to help develop 21st century solutions.

Dandelion Seeds Inspire Lightweight Sensors for Mass Networks

Environmental sensors – detecting variables such as light, temperature and humidity – are now an essential tool for researchers. However, setting up mass sensor networks over a large area is expensive and time consuming. After watching how dandelions spread their seeds, a US university has developed a new lightweight breed of sensor that can ride the wind over large distances.

Read more here!

How the Ocean’s Animal Experts are Helping with Antarctic Climatic Research

How about instead of simply being inspired by nature, you can deputise nature itself into research efforts? Investigating the frigid waters of the Antarctic comes with a whole host of logistical, safety and financial concerns for humans. For seals, however, it’s simply home. One project is using sea-life as a living platform for its own scientific sensors.

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Biomason: Can Bacteria-Built Cement Clean Up Construction?

Traditional Portland cement is a dirty product. Not only does it need vast amounts of energy, but the heating of limestone for cement adds further carbon dioxide into the mix. After taking inspiration from how corals and shells produce calcium carbonate, one US startup is using natural bacteria to develop ‘biocement’.

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AeroSHARK: Lufthansa Turns to Nature to Cut Down on Aviation Emissions

The impact of global air travel on carbon emissions has some under increasing scrutiny in recent years, and engineers are looking for ways to increase the efficiency with which aircraft fly. One project from Lufthansa investigated how sharks swim to create a new ‘sharkskin’ layer which improves airflow and decreases aircraft emissions.

Read more here!

How Sensors on Walls and Balconies Can Help Citizens Clean Up Air Pollution

The air in our cities is polluted. With sensors, citizens can collect measurements, allowing them to uncover sources and build up political pressure.

Non-Invasive Ultra-Thin Needle Sensors Could Power the Precision Farming of the Future

Agri-tech researchers have taken inspiration from medical science to create microneedles that monitor the health of crops.

Can Artificial Whale Excrement Restore the Natural Balance of the Ocean?

Whale faeces is the starting point of many food chains in the ocean. Researchers are now trying to use excrement from the lab as fertiliser to boost the CO2 storage of the oceans.

Could Dumping Corn Waste into the Deep Sea Solve our Carbon Woes?

We're already used to seeing bales of corn waste in our fields, but could they soon become a familiar sight on the ocean floor?

Air Shepherd: Leading Rhinos and Elephants to Safety – With the Help of Drones

Air Shepherd flies drones to stop poaching. To date, they’ve piloted over 4,000 missions to stop rhino and elephant poachers. In their own words, their work is “reversing the march of extinction”. Here’s how.

Heart Aerospace: An All-Electric, Zero Emissions Aircraft Set to Take Off in 2026

Heavy jet liners need vast amounts of fuel to take off and maintain flight, making them by far the least sustainable form of travel. A new Swedish startup believes that a future of completely electric flight could be on the horizon.

Building, but Sustainably: Can a Digitally-Enabled Reforestation Project Restructure the Construction Sector?

Concrete, aluminium and steel are not the most sustainable building materials - especially in warm, humid climates. A reforestation project now aims to combine the ecological, economic and social components of sustainability in the construction sector.

© United Nations
Changing the World in 17 Strides: the Sustainable Development Goals and Who Is Working to Reach Them

An ambitious initiative drawn up by the United Nations in September 2015 sets the bar high for participant states in raising quality of life for people and planet.