Facts surrounding global warming are terrifying. Just try listening to the This American Life episode, “Hot in My Backyard,” without spending the rest of the day sobbing in bed, we dare you. As the population continues to increase, and the temperature continues to rise, the destruction we are causing to the planet is rapidly becoming exponentially more damaging. That’s incredibly scary. We are talking about the very future of humanity.
For many of us, it’s hard to comprehend the consequences our actions have had and continue to have on the planet. And much easier to simply ignore the problem — after all, reading statistics about global warming is really overwhelming. When you look at the bleak conclusions, it can seem easier to simply give up. To take the attitude of, “What am I, one single person, going to do that will change anything?” It’s much easier to choose apathy over panic, but global warming is not a problem that can be wished or ignored away. And we’re running out of time to reverse things.
Luckily for literally everyone alive, there are scientists (and everyday people!) all over the world who aren’t passive. They fight against that fear and apathy. These heroes create real change through innovative technology — feverishly working to combat global warming before it ends in the destruction of everything we hold dear. Heroes like Wyatt Pontius. Pontius was only a junior in high school when he decided he wanted to change the world.
Through hard work and trial and error, Pontius invented a way of changing the composition of leaves to make them significantly increase their oxygen production. He did this by putting the leaves in a blender (in his case spinach leaves) to isolate their photosynthetic chloroplasts. He then recreated the leaf (which now had nanoscale materials implanted inside).
And his innovation paid off. The result of his work was that the leaf was able to produce about 375% more oxygen than a typical leaf. It’s a potentially world saving discovery as we face increasingly lowering amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere. It’s also insanely awesome: the guy is literally disrupting the leaf game.
A recent study showed that at the rate that the oceans’ temperatures are rising, the photosynthesis of phytoplankton could be interrupted by 2100. This is a big deal. Phytoplankton produces two thirds of the world’s oxygen. If it stopped producing, we’d be looking at a mass extinction of life on Earth. Those modified leaves will become essential in a hurry.
“Once I actually realized it worked, I was in disbelief,” Pontius said.