In the future, here's how it's going to work: Sidewalks will power streetlights, buildings will eat smog, nuclear plants will run on nuclear waste, and endangered animals will be socially networked. For our 2012 green issue, we've rounded up cutting-edge fixes for some of the world's trickiest environmental problems, and brought them to you.
(And did we mention the eco-friendly $345,000 lab-grown hamburger? Because that's in here too.)
THE PROBLEM: WALKING SQUANDERS ENERGY.
THE SOLUTION: TURN SIDEWALKS INTO POWER PLANTS.
Britain’s PaveGen has created sidewalk tiles that convert the kinetic energy of pedestrians’ footfalls into power that can be stored or used immediately to run things like streetlights, and is now installing them in high-traffic areas of London in advance of the 2012 Olympic Games. The tiles won’t generate enough energy to juice the Olympic stadium, but they’re a step in the right direction (especially if PaveGen puts them in Usain Bolt’s track lane). — FELICIA CAMPBELL