Welcome to this year's first edition of the Tomorrow Times and a rundown of the stories that have piqued our interest over the past few months.
This edition introduces innovations in forest mapping, big changes to global supply chains, staff migration in the tech world, and how self-observation contributes to societal change. Additionally, read on to learn about breakthroughs in helping the less abled, sneakers you can bury in your yard, and trends that promise us longer and healthier lives.
We hope this edition of the Tomorrow Times sparks curiosity and delivers inspiration for the coming year.
The Except team
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Energy and Environment
Study reveals UK forests lock away more carbon than previously thought
A recent study mapping almost 1,000 trees in Oxfordshire reveals the UK's forests lock away nearly twice as much stored carbon than previously thought. Using the latest Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) technology, researchers are able to calculate the volume and carbon captured by each tree more accurately, helping policy-makers make more accurate valuations and decisions on preservation.
Scientists say we are on the verge of a global “insect apocalypse”
Insects are critical to every ecosystem on the planet. However, the unprecedented loss, by up to 2% per year of the total population and 10% of all species over the last 150 years, is dire for wild plants and global crops. This report from Reuters uses some excellent graphs and imagery to help present and visualize this apocalypse.
Systems thinking: the first step in sustainability
Systems are everywhere around us - our planet, a community, or a nation's electrical grid. All are complex and in a state of constant flux and adaptation. It's vital to adopt systems thinking in designing for sustainability. An often complex topic, this article on the anatomy of a system provides insight into the anatomy of a system, how to define a boundary, and why it's so important.
Business and Economy
EU aims to reduce global deforestation through supply chain transparency
The European Commission has recently welcomed a provisional agreement on banning products linked to deforestation from entering EU markets. The new law will set rules for such commodities as palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, and rubber. Once new regulations are enforced, traders will have 18 months to implement and adhere to strict requirements and benchmarking.
Software engineers leaving Silicon Valley for the climate tech sector
The allure of Silicon Valley and big tech is starting to wane as engineers are migrating to more exciting and impactful climate tech startups. The promises from large companies to “change the world” have begun to fall on deaf ears for a generation of engineers who spend most of their time combating fake information, bots, and business models driven by ads and products.
Food systems can enhance biodiversity and tackle climate change
The Big Food Redesign is a recent study from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, drawing attention to the need and desire for a shift towards a more circular food system. The report presents a vision for a food system that is more resilient, regenerative, and equitable. It highlights the immense power that fast-moving goods companies and retailers have to drive the change to nature-positive agriculture and support businesses.
Science, Technology and Design
Special electrical suit promises millions a new lease on life
A body suit designed for people with mobility problems, such as those with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or affected by strokes, has had remarkable results. The Mollii suit sends mild electrical stimulation to relax specific muscles and reduce pain to make movement easier - for up to several days. This life-changing tech could potentially help hundreds of millions of people with musculoskeletal issues.
Documenting feelings after eating can help create healthy lifestyles
A recent US survey has found that recording our feelings after eating helps to invigorate healthy eating. During the 10-day study, researchers shared ideas and recipes, asking them to document how the food made them feel. These observations provided a connection between the understanding of how food affects the body, playing a crucial role in sustaining behavioral change
Reebok developing the world’s first fully biodegradable shoe
The fashion and textile industries are one of our globe's most pollutive. To address the growing demand for holistic designs, Reebok's Innovation Lab is working hard on creating biodegradable shoes. According to Reebok, once these shoes have passed their use-by date, you will be able to safely and consciously bury them in your yard to dispose of them.
The Urban Environment
Electric vehicles alone will not meet carbon emission targets
A recent project from the Institute for Sensible Transport in Melbourne, Australia, determined that to meet its Paris Agreement GHG targets, Australia will need a per capita reduction of around 50%. To achieve this, cities need a more systemic approach to transport, including strategies to reallocate road space, prioritize sustainable transport, revise costs of motor vehicle use, and bolster infrastructure to support EV adoption.
Emerging trends in urban designs promise a more resilient future
The stops and starts over the past few years have revealed an "enduring resilience," according to a recent publication from Gensler Research Institute. The report shows emerging meta-trends redefining the human experience. Divided into four categories; cities, work, lifestyle, and health, trends point to things like more flexible public spaces, a focus on belonging and placemaking, and designs for social resilience and individual health.
World Economic Forum outlines economic, social, and environmental risks
The World Economic Forum's new Global Risks Report 2023 outlines and explores humanities challenges over the coming years. With swathes of informative and beautiful maps, the report groups threats into two categories: immediate issues over the next two years, and longer-term threats beyond ten years.
Unexpected and Intriguing
World’s first clinical trials modifying DNA to beat heart attacks
In a world first, a volunteer has undergone DNA editing to reduce the risk and chance of severe illness or death. The trial, led by an American biotechnology company, modified a single letter in the patient's liver cell to lower their blood cholesterol. If the trial is successful, we may see the widespread use of this technology to prevent disease and reduce the prevalence of heart attacks, our world's largest killer.
The eclectic modern landscape and redefinition of Amsterdam’s east bank
Only twenty years ago, the east side of the Amstel River in Amsterdam was considered the wrong side of town. Described by National Geographic as a "multicultural east renaissance," it experienced a social revitalization, and is now a vibrant hub of multitasking and lively venues and shops. Bars now double as community hubs, hospitals have become hotels, arthouse cinemas showcase global films, play live jazz, and serve food.
Why shooting nuclear waste into space is a bad idea
There is currently no long-term solution to how we safely dispose of high-level nuclear waste. Apart from burying it deep underground or storing it to deal with later, the idea of shooting it into space has been floated. This educational video from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell debunks this idea by considering the cost, technical feasibility, and a host of dire unintended consequences. However, its conclusion may surprise you.
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