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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

In the last 15 years, 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 have often asked ourselves how we can redesign, reimagine and redesign our activities in order to be more in line with the health of the planet. 

What do you do if nobody listens? 

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

Inspired by A 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’s not uncommon to see players mix, discuss the game with other topics and raise the issue of climate change. Drake said Spark In 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, was attempting to create more accurate climate forecasts. He saved deteriorating weather records from meteorological facilities around the world, some dating back over a century. 

Allen, who was then the Director of Scientific Applications for IEDRO, said that this type of historical data provided a huge key into the past and possible into the future. Spark2015 

“You can actually build your story from the past, in terms of the trends and extremes over time. You can get a feel for 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, took us to Rigolet on the north coast Labrador. There, people had just created an app called eNuk to share and document changes to the land.


“Despite the fact that their home is changing, Labrador Inuit don’t 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 is still being used in the region today. 

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

A German forester designed the original bicycle in 1815 to make it easier to move around. 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 became too costly to feed, so the laufmaschineThe dandy horse, also known as the dandy horse or dandy horse was an efficient and inexpensive way to move around. It was a large version a child’s pushbike and riders had to move it with their feet.

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

Rajkovich and his four colleagues decided that their students would design the 21st century. laufmaschinesBuilt from sustainable materials

“Understanding the history of the bicycle in relation to climate resilience is very important for a generation that is going to be dealing with climate change as part of 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 isn’t for everyone. Public transportation isn’t always easily accessible. This is why some places still rely heavily in 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, and, unsurprisingly, parking. 

(MIT Press)

Eran Ben-Joseph, spoke to Spark2015: More 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. 

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Ben-Joseph is a professor at MIT of landscape architecture, urban planning, and said that we should pay more attention to where we park.

Ben-Joseph said that most of them deal with landscaping. “In many cases, I believe communities can get involved in doing this, whether it’s a community project or something that the neighbourhoods can organize.

“Maybe the purpose of this is that people look around at those parking lots and ask, ‘Why are they having to be that way? There is no reason for this. 

What can you do if the tech future we desire is not financially feasible?

Our insatiable appetite to use digital tech presents real challenges for finding enough materials to make the future of our tech sustainable, especially rare earth elements. 

Abigail Martin (a research fellow at University of Sussex Business School’s Science Policy Research Unit) says there are 17 rare Earth elements. One of them is neodymium. Its importance for electric cars has made it the most talked-about. 

“The simple fact is that when you take these resources off the earth, you leave behind huge scars on it. Martin says there is no other way. Telled Spark2021

“And these scars are not only visual, they are also very toxic and environmentally hazardous for the people who live there.”

We have seen some progress in Canada getting into the rare Earth game. In July 2021, Canada’s first rare Earth mining project in the Northwest Territories was launched. It’s also Canada’s first contract for an Indigenous business to mine materials on their 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 the lyrics. Produced by Michelle Parise


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