Our economic conundrum solved!- How sustainable innovation can provide the key.

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Nature is the most pervasive aspect of our life yet the most ignored. How often do we stop and marvel at the fortuitous ants or the feisty beetle? When have we stopped to gaze at the small flower growing in the field or at a leaf swaying in the wind? At first glance, these creatures seem inconsequential and uninteresting. Yet, if for a moment, we pause and delve into these details, we will uncover something remarkable- an unfounded innovation. Every aspect, structure, and process of our natural world has a meaning and principle that can revolutionize our thinking and lives. For instance, something as minute as a bird’s beak could completely transform our bullet trains or the simple buzzing honey bees can redefine cloud computing.

To tap into this potential, recently, companies have been exploring biomimicry- a method of innovation in which we observe nature, abstract its principles, and use them as a blueprint to solve our most challenging problems. Not only does biomimicry foster innovation, but it also creates environmentally sustainable products as well. In fact, Biomimicry is refining the corporate approach to environmental care by “bringing a new discipline – biology – to the design table. It’s not to write an environmental impact statement, as most biologists in business do right now.” (Janine Benyus)

For instance, the company Sharklet, using an inspiration form the shark skin has revolutionized the material science and cleaning industries. Some scientists observed that no barnacles ever stick to the shark skin. Curious, they decided to study the shark skin under the microscope and came across a startling discovery. The shark’s skin contains patterns of microscopic spacings, which fools the bacteria into believing there is not enough surface to stick on. This product, created using the principles of biomimicry, has far reaching implications that scale multiple industries. Not only does it benefit the billion-dollar ship cleaning industry by providing environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution, but also benefits the healthcare industry by providing effective sanitation for medical facilities.

The impact of biomimicry does not stop there. By using inspiration derived from the mushroom root system, the company Ecovative has finally created a reliable and environmentally friendly substitute for Styrofoam. Scientists from Ecovative observed the intricate qualities of the mushroom root system. Then, taking this concept and some common agricultural waste, they created a packaging material that is durable and can be adjusted to meet any set of criteria. These sustainable materials can be produced in large-scale and is comparable to the costs of fossil-fuel based Styrofoam.

Moreover, not only does Biomimicry helps create more efficient products in a very cost-effective manner, it provides a much larger solution to one of society’s most salient uncertainties- the relationship between economic growth and environmental care. So far, some politicians and economics have berated environmental care and sustainability as a thorn for economic growth. For instance, our president went so far to pull the United States from the Paris Accord due to possible stunting of economic growth! But, by changing our thinking and adopting new ideologies, I believe that it is absolutely possible to focus on sustainability and grow our economy, a belief not just one for the future, but a current reality already being felt by many industries.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pavan Raj Gowda is a seventeen year-old high school senior from Fremont, CA., as well as an author, environmentalist, and Founder of Green Kids Now, a non-profit organization.

Pavan has published two books, “Geckoboy-The Battle of Fracking” and “Two Tales from a Kid”. As a Climate Leader he is very focused on being part of the solution, and showing his generation that Innovation and Environmental Sustainability should not be considered separately.

A Wake up Call

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Let’s end our dependence on Fossil Fuels

Today, we have become extremely dependent on fossil fuels. 81 percent of America’s energy comes from fossil fuels. While this number has decreased, this is still an extremely high amount. We all know that fossil fuels are limited, yet we still keep using them in markets like the manufacturing and energy industries. Most of our Carbon Emissions come from Fossil Fuels, but still we have not made the switch. We are still too dependent on the old grid, fossil fuels and petrochemical products in general. My question is “Why”? There are practical solutions out there. Renewable resources technology has increased greatly over the past few years, along with more up and coming solar companies. America has always been in the front to adopt new technologies and innovations, especially in the Information Technology space. So, why haven’t we switched in the energy and manufacturing sectors? Why are we still dependent on petrochemical products and fossil fuels?

There are many answers to this question. Many say it’s because of decreasing oil prices, or the failures of Solar Companies like Solyndra. While these may be true, I believe that the reason we have not changed is because of a more psychological reason- an unwillingness to change.

This behavior can be explained through a very simple quote, “If something works don’t fix it.” This thinking can be seen in the petrochemical industry. During the 20th century, and the early 21st century, fossil fuels and petrochemical products were the answer to our demands. Clean Coal Technology was the solution. But, as time progressed and as more scientific research was done, we must come to a realization- Fossil fuels are not the answer. Studies show that an increase of Carbon Dioxide caused by Fossil Fuels is one of the biggest factors causing Climate Change. Fossil fuel extraction is also polluting our water, air, rivers, aquifers etc. Some places do not even have access to clean tap water anymore!

So, how long are we going to remain stubborn and not change? The more we procrastinate, the more we postpone signing treaties, and the more we argue; more lives are being put in danger and more people are being robbed of their basic necessities: clean air and water.

We MUST change. No longer can we go with the mentality of “If something works don’t fix it.” It is time that we break this habit and realize the severity of our actions. We must stop using fossil fuels in the manufacturing and energy industry. We must start the change NOW!

There is still hope. We have not completely lost. If we join together, and rethink, redesign and restore with environmental sustainability in our hearts, then there is hope. If we make environmental care, a priority and put it on the economic and social agendas, then there is hope. If we focus on the future generation and sustainability for years to come, instead of the short term gain, then there is hope. If we start caring more about our basic necessities, instead of short term profit, then there is hope.

So, this is why we must wake up and take action now. There is still hope, and if we join together and make changes, we can solve our issues and end our dependencies on all fossil fuels and petrochemical products.

 

About The Author:

Pavan-1Pavan is 14 years old and a passionate environmentalist. He is the founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc. He is also the founder of Green Kids Conference. Pavan has published two books, “Geckoboy-The Battle of Fracking” and “Two Tales from a kid”. He is a Climate Leader and also enjoys being a global reporter.

To request Pavan for a presentation, you can submit a request at: http://presenters.climaterealityproject.org/presenter/pavan-gowda_7084