Tracking the Future
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Tracking the Future
Explore the most important technology and science trends! News, Analysis, Interviews, Presentations, Documentaries. All in one place at Tracking the future magazine
Curated by Szabolcs Kósa
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Nanoscale coatings improve stability and efficiency of devices for renewable fuel generation

Nanoscale coatings improve stability and efficiency of devices for renewable fuel generation | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Splitting water into its components, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, is an important first step in achieving carbon-neutral fuels to power our transportation infrastructure – including automobiles and planes.

Now, North Carolina State University researchers and colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that a specialized coating technique can make certain water-splitting devices more stable and more efficient. 
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What are the environmental consequences of growing the food supply to feed the world in 2050?

What are the environmental consequences of growing the food supply to feed the world in 2050? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The most recent UN estimates show global population stabilizing at 9-10 billion sometime after 2050. What will it take to feed these additional 2-3 billion people?

While forecasting anything 40 years in the future is a treacherous task, estimates typically place the required expansion of the food at double current production levels in 2050.


Via PIRatE Lab, SustainOurEarth
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usman's curator insight, November 23, 2013 6:07 AM

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Fighting the fuel giants for a fully renewable future

Fighting the fuel giants for a fully renewable future | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The viability of a fossil fuel future is rarely connected to the human rights abuses required to sustain it. How often do we think about where oil and gas is obtained? Are the Europeans or Americans any more aware? This deliberate depoliticisation of our energy present, by the vast majority of politicians, journalists and self-described public intellectuals, is leading to an environment that is both unsustainable and dangerous for the planet.

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Natural deep-sea batteries

Natural deep-sea batteries | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Exploring the deep oceans presents huge technical challenges, many of which could be overcome if there were some cheap and efficient way to deliver power to machines while at depth. To tackle this problem, a collaborative research team including Ryuhei Nakamura from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science has now demonstrated a remarkable system that uses natural hydrothermal vents on the sea floor to generate electricity.

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The Ambient Carbon-Capture Imperative

The Ambient Carbon-Capture Imperative | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Last month, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in roughly three million years. If the current trend, which fits the worst-case scenario laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), persists, CO2 concentrations will rise above 800 ppm toward the end of this century – with devastating consequences.
Indeed, the predicted global average temperature increase of 2.4-6.4°C caused by such high ambient CO2 concentrations is expected to trigger the worst outcomes foreseen in the IPCC scenarios, including the loss of an estimated 40% of species, more frequent extreme weather events, and widespread water scarcity. In order to avoid imposing such risk and uncertainty on future generations, global carbon emissions, which stand at 8.5 gigatons annually, must be halved by 2050.

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The Vertical Farm: A Keystone Concept for the the Ecocity

Dr. Dickson Despommier was born in New Orleans in 1940, and grew up in California before moving to the New York area, where he now lives and works. He has a PhD in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame. For 27 years, he has conducted laboratory-based biomedical research at Columbia University with NIH-sponsored support. He is now an emeritus professor at Columbia University and adjunct professor at Fordham University.
At present, Dr. Despommier is engaged in a project with the mission to produce significant amounts of food crops in tall buildings situated in densely populated urban centers. This initiative has grown in acceptance over the last few years to the point of stimulating planners and developers around the world to incorporate them into their vision for the future city. To date, there are vertical farms up and running in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Seattle, and Chicago, with many more in the planning stage. It is his hope that vertical farming will become commonplace throughout the built environment on a global scale.

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How do we redesign a new economic theory framed by ecological systems?

How do we redesign a new economic theory framed by ecological systems? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Economics as we know it today is broken. Unable to explain, to predict or to protect, it is need of root-and-branch replacement. Or, to borrow from Alan Greenspan, it is fundamentally "flawed".

But where do we look for inspiration in facilitating what is the mother of all paradigm shifts? Interestingly, the most insightful and strikingly innovative ideas are coming from all directions other than the economics profession.

Ecology offers the insight that the economy is best understood as a complex adaptive system, more a garden to be lovingly observed and tended than a machine to be regulated by mathematically calculable formulae.

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How 3D printing could revolutionise the solar energy industry

How 3D printing could revolutionise the solar energy industry | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

More efficient, less complex and cheaper, 3D solar cells can also capture more sunlight than conventional PV models

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CineversityTV's curator insight, May 31, 2013 10:04 AM

when will this hit the market?

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Japan as the new normal: Living in a constrained economy

Japan as the new normal: Living in a constrained economy | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

A few nations and communities are already moving in the direction of a steady-state economy. Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and Germany have arguably reached a situation in which they do not depend on high rates of growth to provide for their people. This is not to say these countries have only smooth sailing ahead (Japan in particular is facing a painful adjustment, given its very high levels of government debt), but they are likely to fare better than other nations that have high domestic levels of economic inequality and that have gotten used to high growth rates.

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Opportunities and challenges for a sustainable energy future

Opportunities and challenges for a sustainable energy future | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Access to clean, affordable and reliable energy has been a cornerstone of the world's increasing prosperity and economic growth since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Our use of energy in the twenty–first century must also be sustainable. Solar and water–based energy generation, and engineering of microbes to produce biofuels are a few examples of the alternatives. This Perspective puts these opportunities into a larger context by relating them to a number of aspects in the transportation and electricity generation sectors. It also provides a snapshot of the current energy landscape and discusses several research and development opportunities and pathways that could lead to a prosperous, sustainable and secure energy future for the world.

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Smart cities: The future of urban infrastructure

Smart cities: The future of urban infrastructure | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Technology is changing everyday city life, allowing us to instantly adapt to everything from storm threats to traffic jams.

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Changing the Global Food Narrative

Changing the Global Food Narrative | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

There’s a powerful narrative being told about the world’s food system — in classrooms, boardrooms, foundations and the halls of government around the world. It’s everywhere. And it makes complete sense when you listen to it. The problem is, it’s mostly based on flawed assumptions.

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Green8 twisted skyscraper by Agnieszka Preibisz and Peter Sandhaus

Green8 twisted skyscraper by Agnieszka Preibisz and Peter Sandhaus | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Architects Agnieszka Preibisz and Peter Sandhaus have unveiled a conceptual skyscraper for Berlin with a twisted figure-of-eight structure that curves around elevated gardens and is held up by cables.
Agnieszka Preibisz and Peter Sandhaus, who are both based in Berlin, developed the design to contribute to a new masterplan being put together for the eastern quarter of the city.
"The state of society in the twenty-first century requires that we develop new visions for living in densely populated inner cities," Preibisz told Dezeen. "This process inherently triggers an essential confrontation of material and social values, and so there is a nascent yearning for an architecture that offers a high degree of potential for community."

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Modern Eco-Friendly Homes Set Amongst the Trees

Modern Eco-Friendly Homes Set Amongst the Trees | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Primeval Symbiosis (Single Pole House) is an architectural design project by architecture student and interior designer Konrad Wójcik that seeks to organically install living spaces in forests without disrupting the innate beauty of nature. Wójcik's detailed presentation lays out the many benefits of this design plan in addition to the actual construction of each residence, which is fit to accommodate for households of two to four people each.
The Denmark-based creative attributes his greatest inspiration for the project as the "functionality and structure of a tree." He says, "Studying its nature allowed me to come up with ideas and solutions to create a completely self-sufficient construction." He goes on to remind people that trees serve a purpose ("For most animals, trees are the best natural shelters against predators, moisture and weather") and deforestation hinders the world from both an ecological standpoint and an environmental one.
The end-goal for this idea is to create a community of these homes in natural landscapes, avoiding massive deforestation, and ultimately leaving a carbon footprint that is as close to zero as possible

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Farming Nemo: How Aquaculture Will Feed 9 Billion Hungry People

Farming Nemo: How Aquaculture Will Feed 9 Billion Hungry People | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Shrimp fountains don't grow on trees, you know—nor do Ahi Tuna steaks, Fish McBites, or fried calamari. But that hasn't stopped an increasingly affluent human population from annually demanding more and more seafood. As a result, an estimated 85 percent of the ocean's fish stocks are now either fully exploited or overfished. But an ancient form of aquatic farming, and current $60 billion-a-year industry, may hold the key to both protecting wild fish populations and your local sushi shop.

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Discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere

Discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Excess carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere created by the widespread burning of fossil fuels is the major driving force of global climate change, and researchers the world over are looking for new ways to generate power that leaves a smaller carbon footprint.
Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have found a way to transform the carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere into useful industrial products. Their discovery may soon lead to the creation of biofuels made directly from the carbon dioxide in the air that is responsible for trapping the sun’s rays and raising global temperatures.

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vidistar's curator insight, March 26, 2013 7:21 PM

El exceso de dióxido de carbono en la atmósfera de la Tierra, creado por la quema generalizada de combustibles fósiles es la principal fuerza impulsora del cambio climático global, y los investigadores de todo el mundo están buscando nuevas formas de generar energía que deja una huella de carbono más pequeña.
Ahora, investigadores de la Universidad de Georgia han encontrado una forma para transformar el dióxido de carbono atrapado en la atmósfera en útiles productos industriales. Su descubrimiento pronto puede conducir a la creación de biocombustibles hechas directamente del dióxido de carbono en el aire que es responsable para la captura de los rayos del sol y el aumento de las temperaturas globales.

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Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change

"Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert," begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

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Writing the Future

Writing the Future | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

What does the future hold for the global economy? Will living standards rise worldwide, as today’s poor countries leapfrog technologies to catch up with richer countries? Or will prosperity slip through our fingers as greed and corruption lead us to deplete vital resources and degrade the natural environment on which human well-being depends? Humanity faces no greater challenge than to ensure a world of prosperity rather than a world that lies in ruins.

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It's time to redesign our economic system

It's time to redesign our economic system | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The vital connection between economics and a healthy ecosystem is still not understood by mainstream economists and financial theorists – what will it take?


Via SustainOurEarth
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The Trouble of Discounting Tomorrow

The Trouble of Discounting Tomorrow | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

No challenge facing humanity is broader in scope and importance than achieving a sustainable future. Every dimension of our lives is affected, and every discipline and sector of society must be involved in meeting the challenge. Yet we consistently place less importance on distant events than on those close to us in time (as well as in other dimensions). This so-called discounting of our future makes more difficult our ability to achieve sustainability. Although arguments over the correct “social discount rate” have long occupied a central place in economic thinking, too little has been done to confront the issues of equity that discounting implies.

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