- For this month’s technology snippet, here is a collection of fun innovations that could help improve our lives in the coming years.
Plastic bags are literally strewn everywhere you look, especially in developing nations, so these two ideas are pretty cool: this is one to convert bags into liquid fuels; and this one converts plastic bags into high-tech nanomaterials.
Finding new sources of energy for a growing planet will be crucial in the not so distant future. Here are two ideas for new sources of energy: using bacteria spores to capture energy from evaporating water; and capturing energy from moving parts.
Most of us own and drive a car (thankfully I am not one of them!); and as we all know, gas prices continue to climb. This idea could raise the efficiency of combustion engines by 60% or more; and this idea for recovering wasted heat could boost engine and power plant performance. Here is an idea that makes total sense, generating energy from the weight of cars and pedestrians.
Finally, nature is always a source of inspiration, for instance turning dandelions into rubber; and how about biodegradable building materials made from plant starches?
- One of the biggest environmental myths is that over-population is killing the world. While I do not deny that population has a direct impact on resource use, a far larger issue is over consumption by rich countries such as the USA. In fact, to compare the population of the USA to less developed countries, you have to multiple the figure by 32. Or to put it another way, a single American consumes as much as 32 people in the developing world! Here is an infographic put together by the Hungry Planet that helps to put this issue of over-consumption into perspective.
- Spring is right around the corner and I will admit that I am ready for some warm, sunny weather! In honor of the changing seasons, my Google search this month was, “GIS and spring rain.” Here is a great article written by Kun Yu and Chuanmin Hu that looks at environmental change in a Chinese wetland. By employing vegetation indices calculated from free MODIS satellite imagery, the authors were able to assess if the wetland was protected from anthropogenic and natural pressures.
- From Iowa, we stay in the Midwest with a tour of Wichita, Kansas’ online GIS resources. This is our first city in a while with a GIS site that is lacking. That said, the County of Sedwick which includes Wichita, is linked to their site and is a big help. On the city’s own GIS site, the only service offered is printed maps for a fee. On the county website, you can create a variety of online maps with multiple data layers; and then they give you access to download the actual GIS files here and here.
Brock Adam McCarty