The English language is full of phrases — from “bogged down” to “feet of clay” and “dirt cheap” — that reflect how we appreciate the diversity of soil, but value it little.
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a catastrophic explosion and blowout on April 21, 2010, leading to the worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, the well’s operators thought they would be able to block the leak within a few weeks. On May 9 they succeeded in lowering a 125-ton containment dome over the broken wellhead. If that measure had worked, it would have funneled the leaking oil into a pipe that carried it to a tanker ship above, thus preventing the ongoing leakage that made the spill so devastating. Why didn’t the containment work as expected?
Sailing history is rife with tales of monster-sized rogue waves — huge, towering walls of water that seemingly rise up from nothing to dwarf, then deluge, vessel and crew. Rogue waves can measure eight times higher than the surrounding seas and can strike in otherwise calm waters, with virtually no warning.
As urbanisation and modernisation reach unprecedented levels, road congestion has become a modern day menace. Heavy traffic is associated with air pollution, safety risks, and losses in terms of accessibility, economic competitiveness, sustainable growth and social cohesion. If we are determined to make our cities attractive and sustainable, we must respond to these challenges.
As giant icebergs bob across the open seas they leave behind a trail of nutrient-rich meltwater, sparking new life in the world’s remotest and least hospitable oceans. This in turn means more carbon is taken from the atmosphere and stored below the waves. Massive icebergs may be a symptom of climate change – but they can also help keep it in check.
The popular perception of electric vehicles is that it is a pain to keep them powered up. So imagine a world where the road itself keeps your battery juiced or your driveway starts recharging your car as soon as you park. It is a dream that would not only demand massive infrastructure investment, but which also raises some very fundamental questions about automotive philosophy.