There it is. A hefty hen, with its head up high and its beak out. And a gigantic VR headset over its beady little eyes. What does this battery hen see? ‘An experience of a free life’, according to American designer Austin Stewart. Second Livestock – shown last year at the ‘Robotic Wilderness’ exhibition of the Transnatural collective – is uncomfortable to watch, but it does uncover accurately the relationship we currently have with nature. Because no, this is not an image that we associate with nature. When we think of nature, we think of a hen freely scratching around a bit of bright and unspoiled green. Not of a battery hen, let alone with a VR headset.
It was just little over a year ago that bike sharing schemes started to take off in China. Yet in the blink of an eye, millions of bikes painted in vivid colours, popped up in and around the streets of many a Chinese city. With these colourful newcomers flooding a still immature market at an overwhelming pace, offer quickly exceeded demand and the unbridled ambitions of bike entrepreneurs thus quickly came to be overshadowed by a nagging problem of overcapacity.
For those experiencing symptoms of motion sickness in VR, it’s now possible to step inside a real-life simulation of what it could be like to ski on mars. Last week, desert dust from North Africa hit the pistes in Eastern Europe, covering the lush white landscape in eerie orange snow. “We’re skiing on Mars today,” exclaimed one social media user as he skied down the slopes. This makes us wonder: Do we still have genuine experiences at all, or are we living in a society of simulations?
Mon dieu! The swirling pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an exponential rate. A recent study has estimated that the mass of the garbage island is four to sixteen times bigger than previously thought, and is now three times the size of France.
Urban neighborhoods with high-rise concrete buildings are often dreary and gray. Therefore, the Urban Street Forest project aims to color our cities with the planting of vertical forests by planting trees on the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings, involving local people, shops and organizations. We recently sat down with Raymond Brouwers, co-initiator of the project, to learn more about this hopeful initiative.
Already in the 18th century, French philosopher Voltaire said: “God created the World, except for the Netherlands, that they have done themselves.” Ever since the Dutch are working to meet that claim.
While other countries still have relatively untouched areas, in the Netherlands, every square meter has been designed. This includes natural reserves, which we not only conserve, but now also build.
In 2015 we handed out our first ECO Coin award to Yoyo Yogasamana for his digitalization of sustainable knowledge to preserve more than 130 existing rice varieties without any use of insecticides. In 2016 the award was given to Dave Hakkens for his ambitious open source precious plastics recycling machine. This year we have had entries from around the world and have interviewed our top three candidates: Shubendhu Sharma for his Tiny Forrests initiative, Ritsert Mans and Peter Mooij for their algae powered bike and Sandra Rey for her work in the field of bioluminescence. It has been difficult to choose but we are delighted to announce that Sandra Rey is our 2017 ECO Coin Award winner.
Arches National Park, located in Utah, is home to some of America’s most beautiful rock formations. The most famous of them, Delicate Arch, has always been, well, pretty delicate. So much so that back in the 1940s, park rangers hatched a plan to preserve the natural monument by coating it with plastic.
A lot of exciting new technologies are changing how we view agriculture: farming in silico, drone farmers, self-driving tractors. But not every innovation is quite so flashy and futuristic. The latest trend reshaping rural environments is pretty down to Earth: agroforestry, the art of planting trees.