Post B: The race between destruction and innovation

Humans have been responsible for changing conditions of the planet, in particular with waste disposal. Art and design discourses are increasingly exploring how interdisciplinary work can reinterpret how we can deal with the challenge of waste. The question is, which will surpass the other, innovation or global destruction.

In addition to waste disposal the world is facing serious natural resource and environmental challenges, consisting of fresh water depletion, deforestation and air and water pollution. Furthermore, the struggle to feed our continuously growing population exacerbates these challenges.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it is estimated that by 2050, the demand for fresh water will rise by 50%, the demand for food will rise by over 70% and the demand for energy will nearly double. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration whilst trying to tackle waste disposal. The ultimate solution is innovation. Designers have actively created inventions using science and technology in response to the constant challenge of waste disposal. Fundamentally, environmentalist, Ramez Naam believes it is a race between the depletion and pollution of natural resources on one side and the race of innovation on the other.

Here is where designers have coupled their design expertise with advanced 21st century technology to produce innovations in response to challenges that are threatening to permanently change our earth. Designer Dickson Despommier, acknowledged the fact that by 2050 there will be over 3 billion more people to feed, however over 80% of land that can be used for farming in the world, already has been used. His solution: create farms in skyscrapers in our cities, Vertical Farms. Grown all year-round, using solar-powered lighting and naturally recycled water and waste, different crops would be grown on each level in any geographical location.

Vertical Farm growth
Vertical Farm growth

Vertical Farm Systems states that the technology was developed to improve global food security, which is under threat from a decreasing availability of fertile land, water resources, skilled farm labour and unpredictable climatic conditions. After years of development and commercial testing Vertical Farm Systems are beginning to emerge throughout the world, the Plantgon: A farm with multi-level growing systems for the year-round commercial production of leafy green crops and herbs. Ultimately with minimal inputs of water, labour or land area.

Vertical Farm: Plantagon
Vertical Farm: Plantagon

Although designers like Despommier strive to decrease waste disposal, unless the pace of innovation is increased, the race between destruction and creation will be lost.

References:

  1. 2014, ‘The Limits of the Earth, Part 1: Problems | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network.’ Web blog post.Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American <http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/04/17/the-limits-of-the-earth-part-1-problems
  2. 2014, FAO: How to Feed the World in 2050. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation, <http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/wsfs/docs/expert_paper/How_to_Feed_the_World_in_2050.pdf
  3. Rameez, N. 2013,The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. University of New England, Hanover
  4. Image 1 Reference: http://firstwefeast.com/eat/new-school-farms-are-growing-upwards-not-outwards/ viewed 23rd April, 201
  5. Image 2 Reference: http://inhabitat.com/plantagon/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/plantagon-ed001.jpg viewed 23rd April, 2015
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