Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Greatest Environmental Threats of the Future -NanoMaterials, Manmade Viruses & Biomimetic Robots

Artearthobservationsats_3 Forget about rising global water levels: Researchers, policymakers and environmental campaigners have identified 25 potential future threats to the environment including nanomaterials, manmade viruses and biomimetic robots. In addition to well-publicized risks such as toxic nanomaterials, the acidification of the ocean and increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the list includes some spooky scifi sounding possibilities:

• Biomimetic robots that could become new invasive species.

• Experiments involving climate engineering, for instance ocean 'fertilisation' and deploying solar shields

• Increased demand for the biomass needed to make biofuel.

• Disruption to marine ecosystems caused by offshore power generation.

• Experiments to control invasive species using genetically engineered viruses.

William Sutherland, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge, led a series of horizon-scanning workshops where the threats where highlighted.

Some of the threats identified are more speculative, such as robots that imitate animal behaviour and microbes made from synthetic molecules and might eventually behave like invasive species.

Posted by Jason McManus.

Original here

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