Our planet is a precious place. But we are at an inflection point with the world we inhabit. Much of the planet is changing — and it’s because of us. We burn fuel to keep warm, to light our homes, to get around in cars and planes. We use vast tracts of land to produce food, but throw away about a third of it every year. We send about eight million metric tons of plastic annually into the oceans, enough to cover every foot of coastline.
The good news is these realities have sparked a new age of innovation. Solar and wind are providing more of our power than ever before. Advances in batteries and fuel cells are giving way to cars that don’t need gasoline. Engineers are coming up with new ways to use thrown-away materials, such as building a sneaker store out of old sneakers. One Dutch teenager imagined using ocean currents to ensnare trash, while a 21-year-old woman in South Africa figured out how to upcycle plastic bags into solar-powered backpacks for kids.
LEMJAY LUCAS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Now is the time for everyone to be thinking about how we can balance our own human aspirations with the planet’s ability to sustain them. You might be inspired to reduce the trash we send to landfills or invent a way to cut energy use. Maybe you have a vision for a better transportation system. Share your idea with us so that, together, we ensure the long-term future of the world we call home.
In our first CHASING GENIUS Challenge, four winners received $25,000 each to take their ideas further.
Feel the passion behind these remarkable stories and become inspired to unleash your genius.