New materials

Mitigation means tackling the causes of unsustainability (for example environmental change) and thereby lessening their effects.

Adaptation means changing what we do in response to unsustainability (for example to a changing environment).

One way in which we can adapt towards sustainability is through technology. In the first of these steps Professor Andy Abbott talks about the role of materials science in sustainability. In the second we’ll look at potential projects on a global scale.


Much of the landscape of the Earth has been engineered by human activity. Scarcely a meadow survives, or a tree grows, or a river flows, without human consent. We have been engineering the biosphere since the invention of agriculture, and the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. Global warming is geoengineering!

Much of this is a blessing to humanity: I doubt that anyone would mourn the extinction of the smallpox virus. The issue that arises in such contexts as genetic modification and climate mitigation is how much further can we and should we take this? In this section we look at an interventionist approach to large scale geoengineering that offers potential global engineering solutions to climate change.

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