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Exploring the Fourth Wave of Environmental Innovation
Header banner - Innovation and the Environment by EDF
February 10, 2021
The world is moving rapidly toward electric vehicles — as last month’s seismic shift by GM shows. EDF is proud to have played a role in the company’s decision to go all in on EVs. Across the sector, at least 125 zero-emission truck and bus models are in production, development or demonstration in the United States. Established manufacturers such as Mack and recent entrants like Rivian and Lion Electric are already producing. Companies from Amazon to Walmart to Pepsi are looking to switch their fleets to zero-emissions trucks.
 
The Biden administration wants these trucks to roll off assembly lines in places like Hamtramck, MI, or Spartanburg, SC, not arrive by boat from Hamburg and Shanghai. So it needs to act quickly. Joe Biden ran for president on the strongest climate action platform in American history. Unless he seizes the opportunity presented by electric trucks and buses, as well as cars, he’ll be missing a chance to drive the creation of good jobs.
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These eight-foot drones are capable of distributing up to 57 pounds worth of seeds (via DroneSeed)

Using drones to replant after devastating wildfires via CNN
Why it matters: Specialized swarms of drones from DroneSeed can reseed up to 50 acres of burned forest every day. For comparison, a single human with a shovel might cover 2 acres a day. And there’s a lot of ground to cover, given that more than 8 million acres of land succumbed to wildfires in 2020. Bonus: The seed packets DroneSeed disperses are designed to root effectively without being buried, and also claim to be squirrel-proof.
 
4 guiding principles to foster environmental innovation
Why it matters: Cultivating internal entrepreneurship is a powerful way for organizations to unlock creative solutions to the climate crisis. EDF’s own experience has been positive: In the first month after we launched an internal Innovation Fund program, staffers proposed 43 novel environmental solutions. Along the way we focused on four guiding principles that any business can use to help draw out the best ideas from their own employees.  
 
LISTEN: Crabs feast, coral thrives via NPR
Why it matters: Natural innovation at work. The Caribbean king crab eats reef-destroying algae and seaweeds other reef dwellers won’t. A study published in in the journal Current Biology found that after crabs were deployed in a test program, more than half of the seaweed was gone — and four times as many baby corals were growing compared to reefs without crabs.
 
AI to help keep traffic moving via New York Times
Why it matters: More efficient traffic light systems mean less time wasted behind the wheel, which means less transportation pollution. This New York Times article tracks the increasingly advanced technology behind systems throughout recent history, from SCATS (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System) to SCOOTS (Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique) and beyond.
 
WATCH: How we build on Mars could improve how we build on Earth via Mashable
Why it matters: Construction technology designed for deployment in the harsh Martian environment could help develop sustainable (and recyclable) homes on Earth. AI Space Factory, winner of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, explains how in this video.

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I look forward to sharing more news from the frontiers of environmental innovation. Please send me your thoughts and suggestions at innovation@edf.org.

Fred
 

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join the Fourth Wave of environmental innovation conversation on Medium.

 


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