Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Saving The Planet, One Island At A Time

Here's some more of that human ingenuity stuff. Way cool. According to an Associated Press story at FreeNewMexican.com, by Mike Stark, a farmer in Montana named Bruce Kania has come up with an innovative method to remove excess fertilizers and other pollutants out of waterways. He's created artificial floating islands, with abundant plant-life suspended so their roots can reach the water:

The islands, acting as a sort of floating filter, are designed to improve water quality with plants that suck up excess nutrients. They also create wildlife habitat, function as small-scale wetlands and add a little visual spice to waterways.

Kania doesn't lack ambition when it comes to the islands. He believes they could sop up pollution and toxic spills, produce more land for farming or wildlife, and even hold onto some of the industrial gases that are warming the Earth.

Kania's company is coming up with new ideas for his invention all the time, and the ideas are getting bigger. The article goes on to describe how the floating island option could be an affordable solution to performing such varied tasks as treating the overabundance of waste at stockyards, buffering hurricane battered coastlines, and even sequestering some of the carbon dioxide that's feared to cause global warming. No, I'd say we're not talking about a lack of ambition here.

Kania has some interesting examples of the islands' versatility on his own property:

The largest _ more of a floating pier, because it connects with the shore _ stretches nearly across the pond. Down the middle is a black, cobblestone-like walkway that's made of recycled pop bottles. On either side, he's planted tomatoes, brussels sprouts and other vegetables.

Other islands are growing robust patches of reeds, grasses, sedges and flowers.

The islands, once deployed, are designed to be maintenance-free. They can be anchored or a series can be strung together to create an archipelago. Not long ago, 22 people crammed on to a 250-square-foot island and stayed afloat.

Wouldn't it be fun to have a picnic at some lovely lake spot, only instead of picnicking by the lake, you're picnicking on the lake, floating around on a charming patch of garden, complete with its own strawberry beds? The saving the environment stuff is important, but really, the picnicking potential is the best part, don't you think?

Hat tip: Futurismic