Waves are generating power—just one of many signs of hope for our planet

Pollutants become art. LEDs cut energy use. Around the world we’re seeing signs of progress toward a brighter future.

The apparatus above derives energy from the rise and fall of ocean waves and converts it into electricity. The technology, from the Swedish company Eco Wave Power, utilizes a sophisticated system of floats and hydraulic pistons. When a wave passes through the machine, the floats on the device move up and down, compressing and decompressing the pistons. The pressure from the pumping pistons powers a hydraulic motor; its mechanical energy is harnessed by a generator and turned into electricity. Because the apparatus is designed to be attached to coastal structures such as breakwaters, it has a much lower start-up cost than similar devices used offshore. —Annie Roth

In Appalachian Ohio many streams have been polluted with iron and other minerals in runoff draining from abandoned coal mines. Ridding the waterways of metals is expensive, but two Ohio University professors have found a way to help the process pay for itself. Guy Riefler, an environmental engineer, extracts iron from the polluted water. When the resulting material is fired at different temperatures by art professor John Sabraw, it changes color—and can be used in pigments that Sabraw and other artists employ in their work. —AR

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the bulbs of the future (and the present). They can burn 25 times longer than incandescent lighting yet use up to 80 percent less electricity. By 2035, LEDs are expected to cut U.S. energy consumption from lighting by more than three-fourths. —Daniel Stone

More from this issue

Why we won’t avoid a climate catastrophe

Why we’ll succeed in saving the planet from climate change

Nights are getting brighter—just one of many symptoms of an ailing planet

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