The power of 10: Helping to counter global warming

These scientific advances could help counter global warming, as could the gadgets and suggested life changes outlined below

A A A


1. The artificial tree that captures carbon dioxide 1,000 times faster than a real tree. Developed by researchers at Columbia University, the tree, which resembles a cylinder, absorbs carbon dioxide and then releases it in a technique – called gas absorption – similar to a sponge that collects water. One tree can collect one ton of CO2 a day, the equivalent of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by 20 cars. But each synthetic tree costs £15,000 to make and millions would be needed just to offset the emissions of Britain's cars.

2. Injecting the air with particles to reflect sunlight. It may be possible to inject artificial sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight – but the theory does not address ocean acidification caused by rising CO2 levels and there could be side effects such as acid rain.

3. Creating low clouds over the oceans. Increasing the Earth's albedo, or reflectivity to sunlight, by pumping water vapour into the air to stimulate cloud formation over the sea. This could involve a fleet of ships spraying salt water to increase the density of clouds by raising the concentration of water droplets within them.

4. Mixing the deep water of the ocean. James Lovelock, working with Chris Rapley of the Science Museum in London, devised a plan to put giant tubes into the seas to take surface water rich in dissolved CO2 to lower depths where it will not surface. The idea is to take CO2 out of the short-term carbon cycle, cutting the gas in the atmosphere.

5. Giant mirrors in space. Deflect sunlight with a giant mirror (pictured right) or a fleet of small mirrors between the Earth and the Sun. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that 1 per cent of reflected sunlight could make up for 400 years of man made emissions into the atmosphere.

6. Planetary skin. A global "nervous system" that will integrate land, sea, air and space-based sensors, helping the public and private sectors to make decisions to prevent and adapt to climate change. The pilot project – a prototype is due by 2010 – will track how much carbon is held by rainforests and where.

7. Earth sunglasses. Arizona University astronomer Roger Angel suggests using electro-magnetically powered spacecraft to blast trillions of ultra-thin silicon lenses into space to deflect the sun's rays. Once in place, they would create a 100,000 square mile sunshade, reducing the sun's rays by about 2 per cent.

8. Smoke filters. Superfilters fitted to factory smokestacks can turn pollution into harmless baking soda. Plastic mesh filters being tested on the smokestacks of Texas power plants trap 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide emitted which, when mixed with sodium hydroxide, is turned into sodium bicarbonate.

9. Mirrors in the desert. The amount of sunlight reflected back into the sky naturally averages 30 per cent — but in areas covered by snow or ice, it's a healthy 90 per cent. But the ice caps are melting fast. To counter this, say scientists, we would need to lay vast sheets of reflective material across 1.2 million square miles of the Sahara desert, at a cost of £20bn over 10 years.

10. Wave-riding rubber tubes. The Anaconda is a 200m-long tube, 5.5m in diameter, that could turn wave power into a commercially viable option. As each wave hits the front of the tube, a pulse is created in the water inside. This is forced down the tube by the wave, ultimately powering a turbine in the "tail" of the tube to generate electricity. Each tube could generate enough power for more than 1,000 houses. If the company secures the £17m it needs for a prototype, it hopes to have the first full-size Anaconda ready by 2014. The ultimate goal is to create farms of about 50 tubes in west-facing coastal areas of Britain.

10 green gadgets : Fridges, phones & a wind-up torch

1. EnergyHub Dashboard

Can let you know exactly how much energy household appliances are using and how much it's costing you. It can also turn appliances on and off and adjust temperatures.

2. Magnetic fridge

Whirlpool is developing a new type of fridge that is based on magnetic refrigeration technology. When the magnetic field is removed, the materials will cool below their original temperature.

3. Carbon-neutral phone

Motorola launched the Moto W233 earlier this year, claiming it is the world's first carbon-neutral phone. The plastic is from recycled water bottles and the company offsets carbon emissions involved in the manufacture.

4. Green computer

Fit-PC 2.0 claims to be the world's greenest PC. Manufacturers say it uses 90 per cent less energy than a standard desktop PC, and less power than a low-energy lightbulb.

5. Ego Street Scoota

Electric scooter travels up to 30 miles at 30mph, and produces no emissions.

6. Brunton SolarRoll

A portable solar panel that rolls up like a towel and can charge laptops and phones.

7. Green satnav

Enter details about your car and it'll give you a route that's best for fuel consumption, and also advise on gear and accelerator usage.

8. ECO Showerdrop Meter

A low-cost universal shower meter (left) that lets you know how much water you are using. A family of four could save £180 a year and more than 600kg of CO2.

9. Siemens WM14S79B Washing Machine

Uses HydroSensor technology to check how hot the wash should be and if the water can be used again.

10. Puma wind-up torch

No batteries required for a beam strong enough to light an area up to 30m away.

10 ways to change your life: No kids, no meat, no flights

1. Don't have kids – or at least stop at two. Continuous population growth – it is predicted that there will be between 8 billion and 10 billion people on the planet by 2050 – is multiplying the impacts of climate change.

2. Stop taking short-haul flights – a major source of carbon emissions that has grown with the advent of budget flights – and go by train instead.

3. Drive fewer than five miles a week. Try walking instead of driving to replace one short car journey a week. Or get a bike.

4. Give up meat Cutting out meat consumption on one day a week can have a major impact on reducing CO2 emissions – with global livestock production accounting for at least 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

5. Insulate your home If every household in the UK had 270mm loft insulation, it would save the equivalent of the annual emissions of three and a half large gas-fired power stations.

6. Switch off appliances when you are not using them. Leaving household appliances on standby costs about £800m a year in the UK alone.

7. Recycle and reuse as much as possible. And eat up your leftovers: the average UK household spends £424 a year on food that goes straight in the bin.

8. Shop low carbon Go for products with a low carbon footprint. Look out for the Carbon Trust's Carbon Reduction Label, which shows the footprint of various products.

9. Go for a green TV The Sony KDL-40WE5 saves 50 per cent of the power compared with one of the company's standard models, and has a presence sensor that detects when you leave the room and it then switches the screen off.

10. Boost your radiators A small fan can capture the heat from the back of your radiator and circulate it back into the room. A radiator booster could save an average household £70-£140 per year.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links