The world’s bizarre solutions to air pollution

These days, concerns regarding air pollution are well documented in the UK. Electric cars, alternative fuels, car sharing or taking up cycling are just a few suggested lifestyle changes. But how has the rest of the world responded to the air quality crisis?

Hong Kong parasitic drones

By far the most bizarre solution comes from Hong Kong, where designers have developed a concept for “parasitic robots” which can attach themselves to city billboards. From their position above the roads they suck in carbon dioxide and purify the air, converting the carbon dioxide into an energy source. At the same time, the carbon dioxide would help to boost the growth of small plants on the “wings” of the robots, This means that the robots can double as miniature farms, producing further biogas energy from the organic waste they produce.

Over in Boston, the Boston Globe has reported that trees on city streets grow twice as fast as trees outside the city. Apparently, city life offers a number of advantages for trees: extra nitrogen and carbon dioxide, as well as providing trapped heat in the cold months. The city acts as a particular kind of ecosystem, and scientists say if cities truly want to make progress toward sustainability, it may mean moving away from stand alone initiatives and toward a model more like that of ecology.

Back in Europe, the Finnish capital Helsinki has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car. They claim that car ownership has lost its appeal in Finland, with the demand from citizens for simple, flexible and inexpensive transportation on the increase.

Finally, drivers who enter the city centre in Madrid may soon be fined 90 euros as part of a plan to rid the core city streets of cars all together. There are also aspirations to fully pedestrianise more streets and increase bus lanes in the capital, which add to the city’s existing commitment to sustainable transport, including their new electric bike share system.

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