The Five Worst “Green Innovations”

Whether a company or visionary is embarking upon a green venture for eco-practical or profitable gain, there have been countless grandiose ideas proposed, that for different reasons, never made it past the drawing board.

Below are what I consider the five worst “green Innovations” ever proposed gathered from an article on titled, “FAIL: 20 Infamous ‘Green Innovations’ That Aren’t.” The article includes some compelling visual aids to accompany these less than stellar ideas.

 Human Powered Floating Gyms: Viewed as a way to harness the energy created by humans in motion, floating gyms would be, “…a great way to transport yourself downriver as long as you don’t mind working out in an encased shell with a dozen other sweaty bodies.” While it could be an interesting novelty, someone the safety aspect and the fact that you can take a run along the waterfront or through a public park for NO money make this a bad idea.

Block the Sun, Blow Up Volcanoes and Other Manly Stuff:Geo-engineering was once consider loony bin science. No more. Of particular interests to scientists right now is the potential cooling that could result if they engineered a massive volcanic explosion. When Mt. Pinatubo exploded in 1991, millions of tons of sulfur dioxide helped create a cooling effect. Unfortunately, scientists still know too little about the exact mechanisms of global warming, and intentionally creating massive weather systems or environmental catastrophes could cause more harm than good. This is talking about tinkering with a watch when people don’t know the time. It’s not off the table, but geo-engineering has a long way to go before being viable.”

Hairy Plants:  “A researcher named Christopher Doughty of the University of California at Irvine noticed that plants in hot, arid regions are hairy – and this unique characteristic enables the plants to reflect harmful near-infrared light and drive more efficient photosynthesis. The proposed solution: a hairier, furrier landscape, coming to a backyard near you. Unfortunately, disturbing natural ecosystems by introducing alien plant species is a poor idea. And while plants could be genetically engineered to be as furry as their desert counterparts, the practicality of this green solution is questionable at best. Extra reflection could mean less water evaporation, which would actually heat the planet further.”

Beaming Electricity from Space: “Send satellites into space, where they unfurl 1.5 mile-long solar arrays and send limitless clean energy to earth. Japan is already investing heavily in this technology. One problem: the beam could theoretically miss the receiver and fry, say, a neighborhood. Researchers are working on a solution to this potential disaster, but so far no luck.”

Harnessing Tornado: “Since tornados frequently exceed 100 mph, generating 10 mega-watt hours of power, scientists are hard at work developing machines that could somehow intake and harness this power. One scientist says he knows how to trap a tornado and keep the twister going indefinitely…The commercial machine is slated for debut in about five years, but the dangers of such a device are serious. A tornado might grow out of control, destroying the machine and creating widespread devastation.”

Despite the outlandish nature of some ideas, when brainstorming green solutions, humans must be willing to consider all options before deciding on the feasibility. 20 years ago, people thought nothing of tossing their Styrofoam food containers out the car window but a minimum $500 fine changed that in a hurry. While hairy plants and blowing up volcanoes may not be the answer, a multi-pronged approach will certainly be necessary. 

Posted by: Nick