Back in 2009, the country of Bhutan made a hefty promise to remain carbon neutral for the rest of time. In an inspiring TED talk by Tshering Tobgay, it is revealed how this little country tucked deep within the Himalayas, and sandwiched between the two super powers of China and India, has not only kept its promise, but today stands as the most carbon negative country in the world. Blessed with a lineage of enlightened monarchs, Bhutan has consistently balanced national economic growth with cultural preservation, environmental sustainability, and social development. (source).



In northwestern Poland, close to the village Nowe Czarnowo, lies the Krazywy Las-forest, which roughly translates to “The Crooked Forest.” No one knows exactly why the trees grew the way they did, and with that uncertainty all the more theories have arisen, varying from rational to spiritual ones, from tales about Nazis to tales about witches. The mist gives the already macabre forest an eerie, almost horrorlike quality, one that is only fed by its own myth. The trees were planted during the start of the World War II by the German army, but it’s not clear whether they are the ones responsible for the unusual growth of the trees. This month the German landscape photographer Kilian Schönberger drove to Poland to capture the mysterious forest in his aptly-named photo series The Crooked Forest(source).



Being stuck in traffic is an unpleasant experience, and few cities know this better than Los Angeles. Famous for its infuriating stop-and-go gridlock, an innovative project hopes to ease the pain of being stuck in a car. The Billboard Creative is a nonprofit that takes unused and remnant billboards and turns them into public art.

The Billboard Creative rotates artists and curators by creating month-long shows. Mona Kuhn is the curator behind this current 33-billboard iteration, and she chose the works—which feature photography, painting and sculpture— she selected pieces based on how they would integrate into the locations and types of traffic, be it slow or gridlocked. The public art project is open to everyone, with an open call for submissions. (source).



Swiss designer Fabienne Felder has worked with University of Cambridge scientists Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis to develop a way of using plants as “biological solar panels”. The team has prototyped the world’s first moss-powered radio to illustrate the potential of its Photo Microbial Fuel Cells (Photo-MFCs). Moss was chosen because its photosynthetic process makes the plants particularly efficient at generating electricity. The radio is the first time Photo-MFCs have been used to run an object demanding more power than an LCD screen. The team has high hopes for the potential of this emergent technology. “We may assume that in five to ten years the technology is applicable in a commercially viable form,” they said. Currently the technology used in the radio can only capture about 0.1% of the electrons the mosses produce. (source).



​According to Pew C​haritable Trusts, about $23.5 billion worth of fish, or about 40 percent, are caught illegally, but don’t worry. Video games can help. Using ship-tracking data from exactEa​rth and other sources, The Satellite Applications Catapult created Project Eyes on the Seas, a system that visualizes fishing ships’ locations around the world, allowing analysts to more quickly and intuitively analyze their movements and alert officials to any suspicious activities: a ship’s speed, which can indicate if it’s fishing, whether it turned off its transponder, and the type of license it has compared to the type of fishing related to its location. Basically, online games are really good at letting large groups of players spread across the world complete a complicated task by looking at the same data. Project Eyes on the Seas uses the same model to address illegal fishing. (source).


“We’ve no specific game we are looking to emulate, but we’ve all experienced raiding in various [massive multiplayer online, or MMO, games] and at uni I regularly played RTS [real time strategy] games on our internal network,” he said. “The key concepts we are intending to use are the ability to share information, by chatting or VOIP [voice over internet protocol], the ability for someone to create adhoc virtual teams on the fly to monitor specific vessels or fleets, and also companion apps that allow for remote access when out of the office.” – Keegan Neave

Palm oil is a wonderfully versatile and cheap raw material which makes its way into many packaged foods and into household products ranging from fine cosmetics to heavy-duty detergents. But palm oil’s large-scale use has environmental costs. In Southeast Asia, it is the leading driver of deforestation. In Indonesia, according to a 2007 report, 98 percent of the country’s natural rainforest will be destroyed by 2022 unless strict conservation measures are implemented. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO, was set up by palm oil producers and users to address the sector’s environmental impact. RSPO has devised two certification systems for ensuring that its members can source palm oil sustainably. Both approaches classify sustainable plantations as those not grown on land cleared of tropical rainforest after November 2005. The first approach, dubbed mass balance, monitors the volume of sustainable palm oil entering the supply chain to make sure it doesn’t exceed the amount of product that is grown on sustainable plantations. The second approach segregates oil certified as sustainable from conventional oil at every stage of the supply chain.


Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Bath, in England, recently completed a three-year project to make palm-oil-like material using Metschnikowia pulcherrima, a strain of yeast. M. pulcherrima can be fed with “nearly any organic feedstock” from sugars to cellulosic material, says Christopher J. Chuck, project co-lead and research fellow for the university’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies. He estimates that the land required to produce oil from M. pulcherrima may be as much as 100 times less than is needed for producing palm oil. (source).


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Fascinated by the idea of what people will leave behind for those who live millions of years from now, Erik Hagen developed a unique series of paintings for his new exhbit, Fossils of the Anthropocene. “While we’re looking backwards in time at what the fossil record can tell us, what are they going to find in the future – whoever they are? That really captivated my imagination and led me to do all of these different pieces,” he said. Some of Hagen’s “fossils” were created by throwing marble dust on a canvas covered with latex paint mixed with sand, then embedding casts of plastic coins or a cell phone, referencing commerce and communication. Several of the paintings incorporate plastic waste, including a water bottle as well as plastic fragments and micro-beads like those used in lotions and soaps. (source).




Mel Chin’s project CLI-Mate proposes an easy interface to link individuals personally with global climate change and establishes feedback loops to provide an opportunity motivation for behavioral change. CLI-mate is a means to stimulate critical adjustment in human behavior, ultimately on a global level. If climate change is the most urgent issue of our time, then the development of an interface to encourage, or to be the means by which we make those modifications, is needed now. One of the essential challenges is to facilitate a personal relationship between individuals and global climate change. Chin’s project directly connects global warming trends to the source in order to change behavior. (source).




Mary Mattingly is a New York based artist. For her exhibition, “House and Universe,” she bound up virtually all her possessions, creating what she calls “man-made boulders,” which resemble postminimalist sculptures. One photograph finds her pulling a boulder down a city street with the underlying message that our ecological future is apocalyptic. (source).



Mauricio Affonso has created Indigo tiles made from moulded Luffa, which may also lead to the next level in engineering equipment, as the luffa is a surprisingly effective acoustic insulator.  Soundproofing, the process of reducing sound pressure via a noise barrier using damping structures, is a delicate art that requiring dexterous materials that prevent sound leakage both in and out of a structure.The indigo colour is achieved by reusing wastewater from the denim-dyeing industry. Like most textiles, denim-making starts with plain white cotton. What many people don’t realize is that blue-jean process is poisonous to water supplies in communities such as Xintang, China. Luffa’s highly absorbent fibers can be used to soak up these harmful dyes that would otherwise be discharged. The result is a series of functional and beautiful indigo wall tiles. (source).