How we can harness cutting-edge biology and manufacturing to fight waste and pollution.
In nature, there is little chemical waste; nearly every atom is a resource to be utilized by organisms, ensuring that all the available matter remains in a perpetual cycle. By contrast, human systems of energy production and manufacturing are linear; the end product is waste. In Brave Green World, Chris Forman and Claire Asher show what our linear systems can learn from the efficient circularity of ecosystems. They offer an unblinkered yet realistic and positive vision of a future in which we can combine biology and manufacturing to solve our central problems of waste and pollution.
Forman and Asher, both scientists and accomplished science communicators, explain how 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes, combined with synthetic biology technologies, could give companies complete control over their entire manufacturing chain – including the waste. They describe AI as the magic ingredient that can create advanced automated systems that generate the molecular, nanoscale, and macroscale tools designers need to fabricate a circular economy, and they argue that emerging new forms of computation in smart materials could be the backbone of our future infrastructure. Forman and Asher boldly address the large-scale issues of climate change, describing how the fusion of cutting-edge manufacturing and biology can offer solutions to Earth's existential crisis. Woven throughout Brave Green World is a provocative case study: how to grow an all-natural smart phone.
Chris Forman is a physicist, with a PhD in protein engineering, conducting research at Northwestern University into the organization of soft matter using experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches.
Claire Asher is a biologist with a PhD in evolution and genetics, specializing in the behaviour of ants. A widely published science writer, she has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Bloomsbury Theatre and appeared on BBC4 and BBC Radio 4.
"Humans are superb problem-solvers, and the authors make a convincing case that technology will mitigate at least some of the devastation we are inflicting on the Earth [...] An ingenious, if highly speculative, save-the-planet proposal that emphasizes science over politics."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Nothing is wasted in natural systems, yet humankind produces ever-increasing levels of waste. Scientists and science communicators Chris Forman and Claire Asher consider the cycles in nature and how our linear system – production leading to waste – can learn from the cyclical efficiency of ecosystems"
– Nature Climate Change