There is a sense of uncertainty whenever the future is in discussion. Climate change, pollution and depletion of natural resources are urgent concerns that threaten a prosperous, healthy and safe future for all. The UN projection of the world population indicates that there will be 9.77 billion people on the planet by 2050. With a giant red flag hoisted in today’s global environmental situation, how will the Earth sustain a population that size?
Not all predictions of the future are negative, however. One of the first blueprints of a new world civilization is The Venus Project, a system that would use technological and scientific advancements to provide the highest possible living standard for all people on Earth, for free. Starkly different from popular dystopian imaginings, the project aims to create a future that doesn’t have the problems of today.
Harnessing technology in positive manner forms the basis for much of the discourse around a better future. In an interview with BigThink.com, Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, director, Information and Innovation Policy Research Center at the National University of Singapore, hoped that advances in technology will make us more empowered, motivated and active, rather than mindless consumers of information and entertainment. Indeed, much of our future will be shaped by technological and scientific advancements. A look at inventions around the world indicate 3 key areas that will re-define how we live in the future:
Future of food and nutrition
According to the UN, by 2050 we will need to increase production of food by 70% to feed the world. This is very challenging considering our current food crisis - 108 million people in 2016 didn’t have access to a sufficient quantity of nutritious food. How do we ensure production and supply of sustainable food and nutrition?
Lester R. Brown, founder and president of Earth Policy Institute, asserts that the scarcest resource of all is time. He brings attention to the urgency of the situation where food is the new oil and land is the new gold.
Creating Chemistry, an online magazine curated by BASF, the world’s largest producer of chemicals, suggests that since more than half of the Earth’s population now lives in cities, it’s only logical to grow food right where its eaten. A Singapore-based company called Sky Greens has found a solution to grow food in constricted spaces. They have set up the World’s first commercial vertical farm, helping the city grow more food locally.
In Tokyo, a Japanese recruitment company uses its entire office building to grow fruit and vegetables. In New York, a vertical farm on a 700-meter high skyscraper could provide food for more than 150,000 New Yorkers. In London, there is a zero-carbon food organic farm that thrives in an underground bunker in which low energy lights, controlled irrigation and constant temperatures keep energy consumption at a minimum. Water shortage and soil erosion are making it increasingly difficult to grow food the traditional way and high-tech innovations such as urban and vertical farming have proven to be effective solutions, providing alternate ways to produce food. While vertical farming as a concept has been around for some time, its success has translated into more companies investing in the technology to set up full-scale commercial farms.
Future of personal resources
With conscious consumption on the rise, we will see a lot more solutions designed to reduce the individual usage of natural resources, without giving up entirely on comfort and convenience. Imagine a house that creates more energy than it consumes, giving energy back to the grid. Archiblox Founder, Bill McCorkell has made this possible by designing the world’s first carbon positive pre-fabricated house. The house is built using environmentally friendly materials; including solar panels mounted on the roof and a conservatory that acts as a radiator during winter but keeps the house cool in the summers. This re-invention of living apart from being environmentally friendly is also economically beneficial, reducing a substantial amount of energy costs. For people who would rather take small steps towards going green, Semtive has created an affordable personal wind turbine that can be installed in an hour and just needs to be plugged into your home to create your own power. The wind turbine, Nemoi, has been designed to generate power even in light breeze. For those looking to reduce their water usage, DryBath, invented by 20-year-old Ludwick Marishane, is a formula that consists of essential oils, bioflavonoids and odour eliminating chemical alum, essentially saving 4 litres of water per usage.
Future of mobility
The transportation sector is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels, making pollution, smog, congestion and traffic a part of our everyday lives. However, transportation is a necessary service that provides us access to basic amenities like markets and hospitals. During the UN Global Sustainable Conference 2016, it was noted that nearly 1 billion people worldwide still lack adequate access to road networks. Is it possible to create access and increase mobility without relying heavily on fossil fuels?
According to BASF, in the city of tomorrow, urban areas will be freed of smog and gridlocks, charging points for electric cars will be built into the asphalt, public transportation will provide personalised routes and cars would be modular and can be folded up like a baby carriage when parked – leaving space reserved for parking lots into parks. This positive vision of mobility is a part of BASF’s belief that optimism drives the future. Fuelled by their ‘optimism in motion’ philosophy, BASF’s innovations in electric car battery materials will double the driving range of midsize cars from 300 to 600 km on a single charge by 2025. Owners can also expect a full charge in as little as 15 minutes. In terms of controlling harmful emissions from non-electric vehicles, BASF’s PremAir® - a catalyst coating, converts ground level ozone into oxygen as the air flows over the coated radiator, significantly improving the air quality.
Mobility is also where the future gets exciting. The Tesla branded Hyperloop is designed to move passengers in aluminium pods travelling up to 800mph. In his blog, Elon Musk describes the workings of Hyperloop which consists of a low-pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. Currently at a concept stage, Musk plans to build a prototype model soon.
If your expectations from the future were anything like the life portrayed in the Jetsons, AeroMobil won’t let you down. A unique combination of a car and an aircraft, with Aeromobil you have the choice to go by road or by air, saving you time and cost of travel.
Pioneers all around the world are demonstrating the importance of creating a better future rather than reacting to a difficult one. The Creator Space by BASF is a platform where inventors can come together to imagine, test and create solutions for tomorrow. One of their current projects aims at bringing together construction and software companies to create a Business Information Modelling (BIM) software. This will help builders develop digital model of their building, on which engineering challenges can be solved, thus saving energy and resources involved in building an actual model.
While not all of us can be innovators, we can be early adopters of these solutions, shifting our lifestyle from a convenience-based lifestyle to an environmentally conscious one. Optimism about the future comes from knowing that there will always be solutions for world’s biggest challenges. Driven by innovation and the resolve to create solutions that make life better, BASF is inherently optimistic about the future. To know more, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.