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6 innovative approaches to the climate crisis & a sustainable tech future

6 innovative approaches to the climate crisis & a sustainable tech future

6 creative approaches to the climate crisis and a sustainable tech future

The past 15 years have been a period of SparkWe’ve covered issues like climate change, waste, as well as environmental issues through the lenses of tech and design. Each year brings new and deeper environmental challenges. We’ve often wondered how we can reimagine, reimagine, or redesign our activities to better align with the health of our planet. 

What can you do if nobody listens? 

2018 Henri Drake was a graduate student in oceanography at MIT — and a Fortnite player. 

Inspired by TweetDrake was inspired by Dr. Katherine Hayhoe from Texas Tech University to create a Twitch streaming channel called Climate Fortnite. Here scientists play the game and answer viewers’ questions about climate change. 


“On Twitch, it is common to see players talk about the game and raise the topic of climate change. Drake spoke Spark 2018

“Anyone who happened to see my stream when they are scrolling through could join, and they can ask questions directly to an expert — which I think is really valuable and sort of unique.”

Today, Drake is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and Climate Fortnite has stopped streaming — but bridging gaming and climate science is only one way of getting people to pay attention to climate issues. 

In 2015, Teddy Allen took a different approach — by going on a data safari. 


Allen, a climate scientist who works to improve climate models, saved deteriorating paper weather records from meteorological stations around the globe, going back as far a century. 

Allen, then-director of Scientific Applications at IEDRO, stated that “this type of historical data provides a huge clue to the past and possibly into the future.” Spark2015. 

“You can actually build an entire story from the past by looking at the trends over time and the extremes. It is possible to see how the weather has changed over time in a particular location.

Allen is currently an assistant climatologist at The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, Jamaica.

What can you do when the North’s landscape changes? 

For generations, Inuit have used traditional knowledge to navigate the land and share safe routes to travel — but climate change is changing that. 

Ossie Michelin, a journalist from Labrador, took us to Rigolet in 2016. There, the residents had just developed an app called eNuk that allowed them to share and document land changes.


“Despite the fact their home is changing, Labrador Inuit refuse to give up,” Michelin reported 2016. “The information they record now and share on the eNuk App will help them better prepare to face any changes.”

The Inuk app can still be used in the area. 

What can you do when people are passionate about their cars? 

In 1815, a German forester created the first bicycle to help people move more quickly. It was also a response for a change of climate: Mount Tambora in Indonesia had erupted, and the ash in the atmosphere had caused huge crop failures.

Horses were too costly to keep so they were put on the equestrian team. laufmaschineThe dandy horse, also known as the dandy horse or dandy horse was an efficient and inexpensive way to move around. The horse was similar to a child’s pushbike. Riders had to use their feet and move it around.

This got Nicholas Rajkovich (now an associate professor at the University at Buffalo) thinking.

Rajkovich and four colleagues decided to have students design 21st-century architecture with them. laufmaschinesMade from sustainable materials

“Understanding the history and significance of the bicycle in relation climate resilience is important for a new generation of practitioners who will be facing climate change as part their design work.” Rajkovich told SparkIn 2019

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Tom Cleary, an architecture student, rides his entry into the laufmaschine relay in Cleveland. (University at Buffalo).

Bicycling is not for everyone. And public transit isn’t always easily accessible. This is why some places still heavily rely on cars as their primary means of transport. 

Even in places with other options, it can be hard to convince people to leave their cars at home. This leads to traffic congestion, pollution, parking, and, ultimately, parking. 

(MIT Press)

Eran Ben-Joseph, spoke to Spark2015 about his book Rethinking a Lot. He argues we haven’t taken a hard enough look at the esthetics of parking lots or the environmental impacts they have — leaving our communities filled with ugly heat traps that keep water from being reabsorbed into the aquifer. 

It doesn’t have be this way. Professor of landscape architecture and urban design at MIT Ben-Joseph said that we need to pay more attention how we park our vehicles.

Ben-Joseph said that most of them deal with landscaping. “In many cases, I believe that communities can get involved, whether it is a project for the community or something that can be organized by the neighbourhoods.

“Maybe that’s why people go around and look at those parking lots. They would then ask, “Why are they doing this?” “There is no reason to do that. 

What do you do if building the tech future that we want is expensive?

Our insatiable desire for digital tech makes it difficult to find enough materials to make our tech future sustainable. This is especially true for rare earth elements. 

Abigail Martin, a researcher at the University of Sussex Business School Science Policy Research Unit, says that there are 17 rare earth elements. Neodymium is one of the most prominent because of its significance for electric vehicles. 

“The simple fact is that when you take these resources off the earth, you leave behind huge scars on it. Martin: “There’s no way around it.” Telled SparkIn 2021

“And it’s more than just visual scarring, these are scars that can be very toxic and potentially harmful to the people who live there.”

We’ve seen some progress in getting Canada into rare earth mining. The first Canadian rare earth mining project was started in the Northwest Territories in July 2021. It’s also Canada’s first contract for an Indigenous business to mine materials on their own territory. Construction on Canada’s first rare earth processing plant is underway in Saskatchewan. It is expected to be complete by 2024.

McKenna Hadley Burke wrote this. Produced and edited by Michelle Parise.


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