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Category: Environment

“Vertical farming” in skyscrapers might be the next trend in locally-grown food, but wait until you hear about HORIZONTAL farming!

Background:

Recently, there has been discussion around the futuristic concept of “vertical farming”: growing crops in skyscraper-style greenhouses in city centers.

The issue:

Although there are many conceptual advantages to such a farm, there is at least one major difficulty: light. Obviously, only the topmost layer of a vertical farm would be practical to light with sunlight (Figure 1): lower layers would need to be lit with high-efficiency narrow-spectral-band LED lighting.

Fig. 1: This vertical farm (right) has a major downside: there’s really only one “floor” worth of sunlight, so it’s impractical to use sunlight for crop growth. Although LED lights can be extremely efficient, the power requirements of a large-scale vertical farm would be substantial.

Proposal:

The “horizontal farm” is the best of both worlds: a structure that can fit in the footprint of a single office building, yet is capable of harnessing sunlight from dozens of adjacent city blocks.

The horizontal farm building is designed as follows: it consists of a vertical stack of floors, just like a traditional skyscraper. However, the floors are not directly connected to each other: instead, they hang from two vertical rails that can pivot to a horizontal orientation.

When the rails begin rotating to the horizontal position (Figure 2), each “farm floor” pivots in the opposite direction, thus maintaining a horizontal orientation at all times.


Fig. 2: Each floor on this vertical farm is mounted on an enormous central pivot point. The building can be slowly turned from a vertical to a horizontal orientation. Now the plants can directly use the sun, cutting out the LED lighting middle-man!

Conclusion:

This bold new architectural design could be the future of locally-grown food!

PROS: Allows farming to harness the power of the sun directly, with no intermediate energy conversion (to LED lighting) required! Also has the advantage of providing valuable shade to city-dwellers who might otherwise get sunburns.

CONS: None!

Don’t believe the lies of “Big Ichthyology”—save our cities from flooding by vanquishing our ancient foes of the briny deep. Maybe the only problem with overfishing was… we didn’t do enough of it???

The issues:

Let us consider two economic / environmental problems that should, in an ideal world, be addressed somehow:

  1. Sea level rise (see Figure 1)
  2. Overfishing

Obviously no one has any plans to actually address these; the “tragedy of the commons” will sort them out naturally. But what if we did want to make a difference, and we could use the second problem there to solve the first one?

 

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Fig. 1: Argh, there was too much water, and my lovely coastal city is completely flooded!

Proposal & Hypothesis:

  • Fish take up a certain amount of space in the sea.
  • This volume displeases a certain amount of water; i.e., if the fish were removed, there would be more room for water.
  • What if, by increasing the degree of overfishing, we could make more room for water in the sea, and thus prevent sea level rise?

 

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Fig. 2: Be removing all the fish and “fellow travelers” (e.g. the whale, the octopus) from the sea, we can lower the overall sea level back to acceptable levels (orange markers on the bottom figure). Our coastal cities are saved!

Conclusion:

You should write your representative and tell them to support this new plan instead of funding sea walls or relocation or some other crazy and expensive scheme. FACT: Less volume for fish (especially the skeletons) means more volume for water.

Alternative plans:

It’s always good to have a backup plan for preventing expensive damage to coastal cities, so maybe:

  • Everyone just drinks a lot more water?
  • Dig a huge hole in, like, Nevada, and then fill it with water?
  • Make a huge magnifying glass, and use it to boil the sea, thus lowering the ocean level?

PROS: Provides more jobs for fishing, until we remove 100% of fish. May solve sea level rise.

CONS: It’s possible that fish don’t actually take up a substantial amount of space in the ocean? But I’m no oceanologist.

 

 

 

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