GOOD

One small construction innovation could drastically reduce global carbon emissions.

She invented a technique which involves placing sand in moulds and injecting it with microorganisms.

(Image via U.S. Air Force)

Outside the realm of old-school mafia murder, cement doesn’t strike most people as dangerous. But it is.


The chemical process of making cement—a key ingredient in concrete—emits 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide. “If the cement industry were a country,” says BBC News, “it would be the third largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US.” That may mean the most toxic car you can think of—let’s say the black-exhaust-belching 1970s Dodge your granddad refuses to let go—is less deleterious to the environment than the street upon which it sputters.

In order to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement on climate change, annual emission from cement needs to fall by at least 16% by 2030—an enormous undertaking. Concrete—low-cost, easily produced, and durable—has fashioned itself as the veritable backbone of city infrastructure, a go-to building material for most tower blocks, bridges, dams, and car parks. It’s the DNA for post-war buildings, ranging from the grimmest Soviet-style office building to gorgeous architectural wonders, such as the Sydney Opera House. Since 1950, production has increased, “more than thirtyfold… and almost fourfold since 1990.”

(Image via U.S. Air Force)

So what do we do? We could return to old materials, like sticks, bricks, and straw, but that’s costly, unrealistic, and better suited for Little Pigs. A much better solution: inventing a new kind of cement. A clean and green cement. A cement that doesn’t compete with private jets and cow belches for releasing the worst of our greenhouse gases.

Where could we find such a miracle?

Enter Ginger Krieg Dosier, co-founder and CEO of BioMason, a North Carolina-based startup that uses trillions of bacteria to grow bio-concrete bricks. A trained architect, Ms. Krieg Dosier look into finding green alternatives to bricks and masonry over 10 years ago, and was surprised at her dearth of options. This discovery, combined with her fascination with marine cements and structures, led her to create her own solution. She invented a technique which involves placing sand in moulds and injecting it with microorganisms—similar to the one that creates coral.

Despite the fact that certain writers would like to implement bio-bricks immediately, imagining a safer, climate-stabilized world (in which all office buildings resemble King Triton’s castle in The Little Mermaid), most architects, engineers, and contractors and clients are, unsurprisingly, more cautious. Still, Ms. Krieg Dosier says we have reason to be optimistic.

“I do believe the construction industry is approaching a point where alternative materials will be more widely adopted,” she says.

For the sake of our planet—and every living thing on it—let’s hope so.

Articles
via Jason S Campbell / Twitter

Conservative radio host Dennis Prager defended his use of the word "ki*e," on his show Thursday by insisting that people should be able to use the word ni**er as well.

It all started when a caller asked why he felt comfortable using the term "ki*e" while discussing bigotry while using the term "N-word" when referring to a slur against African-Americans.

Prager used the discussion to make the point that people are allowed to use anti-Jewish slurs but cannot use the N-word because "the Left" controls American culture.

Keep Reading
Politics

Step by step. 8 million steps actually. That is how recent college graduate and 22-year-old Sam Bencheghib approached his historic run across the United States. That is also how he believes we can all individually and together make a big impact on ridding the world of plastic waste.

Keep Reading
The Planet

According to the FBI, the number of sexual assaults reported during commercial flights have increased "at an alarming rate." There was a 66% increase in sexual assault on airplanes between 2014 and 2017. During that period, the number of opened FBI investigations into sexual assault on airplanes jumped from 38 to 63. And flight attendants have it worse. A survey conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA found that 70% of flight attendants had been sexually harassed while on the job, while only 7% reported it.

Keep Reading
Travel