We are all in a state of crisis and need to adapt to climate change. As flooding, fires, hurricanes and heat waves grow more common, we are again exposed to the elements. But where there are hardships, there’s resilience. We need reactive means to cope and proactive means to reinvent; resilience is an existential necessity, but also an opportunity to build a new, better way of life.
Shifting and increasingly severe weather patterns will put urban infrastructure and businesses to the test. This means it’s even more crucial to understand weather patterns in advance, if possible. We will have more sensors around us to provide more predictability and eventually automated, smart impacts.
With urban structures, we have created micro-climates around the cities with built environment. We will have the possibility to create responsive mediated urban environments – climatically responsive urban design to counter or eliminate undesirable microclimates and nurture conditions that provide a healthier environment. We will see closed-loop approaches and further emphasis on self-sufficiency in urban planning and architecture.
For companies, resilience is not only a new category of services and products, but also a mindset and mode of operation. Resilience can manifest itself in many ways, in different services and applications, but also in the entire ethos that guides a company, making it future fit and relevant in the new world.
04 Modern heroes
Disasters are growing more common and humans are struggling to cope, but technology is coming to our aid: Robots can go to hazardous areas inaccessible to humans. Drones can rapidly plant trees and cover large areas in rescue missions. 3D printing can be used to rebuild quickly after natural disasters. While industrial and technological development has put us in a precarious position with climate change, technology might also be the very thing that saves us.
Biocarbon Engineering builds drones that plant trees – and they could make a huge difference for reforestation. Theoretically, two operators with 10 drones could plant 400,000 trees in a day. Based on experiences from Myanmar, where Biocarbon Engineering helped plant mangroves, the technique can be put to practice and is ready to be scaled.
When the fire raged at Notre Dame, one of the big firefighting heroes was a robot called Colossus. Remotely operated, it is specifically designed for tasks impossible to humans – entering hazardous conditions and operating a fire hose or carrying people to safety with its 1,200 pound carrying capacity. Described as a universal technical support robot and designed to be modular, the firefighting robot takes on tasks monthly in France and Belgium.
Sony is launching Reon Pocket, a personal air conditioning system, to help combat heatwaves. It uses a small electrical current to cool down or heat the air and is said to have a 24-hour operating time on one charge. In addition to cooling you down by 13 degrees Celsius, Reon Pocket is able to heat you up by 8 degrees Celsius.
To be future-fit in the world that’s coming, our infrastructure needs development. We’re creating new systems for water management, construction and energy creation and retention. Food is a key area of innovation with improvements like weather-resilient crops and increased food longevity. Regenerative agriculture, utilizing age-old methods to nurture farmland, holds a lot of promise and could prove crucial in feeding the world population without increasing land use.
Down the road, agriculture might be made obsolete by lab-grown food, which promises to make microbes and water into edible, nutritious food. Climate change is menacing and threatens our entire lifestyle, but it is also an inspiring, empowering force.
Researchers are making progress with ‘Anti-solar’ panels that don’t need light to generate power. Utilizing the temperature differential between Earth and outer space, they create power by pushing electrons through a thermoelectric device. The results are currently modest, with test panels powering one LED light, but the innovation holds promise to light remote areas or to even charge devices at night, making for a new carbon-free way to generate power.
As humanity is searching for new planets suited for terraforming and inhabitation, NASA is leading research to find genetic means to make humans better suited for space travel. Radiation exposure is a big issue on long space flights, but the DNA of extremely resilient microscopic creatures called tardigrades could help astronauts. The goal of the research is to combine tardigrade DNA with human cells to help mitigate the effects of radiation exposure.
With temperatures rising in Zimbabwe, farmers are having a go at growing maize varieties that have been bred to tolerate the rising temperatures caused by global warming. In addition to heat tolerance, the new varieties also have drought-resistant characteristics. Developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Research Programme on Maize of CGIAR, a global agricultural research organisation, the new maize varieties have been successful.
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