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The Top 12 Climate-Changing Environment Stories Of 2014

Don’t panic that the environment is falling apart. Think about how you can make change–even if your contribution is helping the rest of us visualize how doomed we are.

Will Louisiana end up under water? Or what if the world’s ice sheets melt–what would your city look like? This year, there was a growing urgency in communicating the risks of climate change, especially because the window of time for humanity to act to forestall disastrous consequences like those above is running out.

That is not to say people are giving up on smaller design solutions that help the environment, such as a really weird idea that could reduce our use of plastic water bottles or drones that document the abuses on factory farms. You can read more in the stories below that may depress you a little (check out 2013’s list for even more depression!), but will also give you some hope.

1: This Edible Blob Is A Water Bottle Without The Plastic

Inspired by techniques from molecular gastronomy, the Ooho is a magical way to have your bottled water and eat it, too. Just maybe bring a towel.


2: The 5 Greenest Countries On Earth (And All Of The Rest), Ranked

Want to live in a beautiful nation that protects your health? It turns out Switzerland is your best bet (the chocolate is also good).


3: Horrifyingly Beautiful Photos Show The Human Cost of China’s Massive Pollution Problem

Gritty, detailed scenes from some of China’s most polluted places will make you grateful for the air you breathe.

4: How A Product Design Oversight In Your Face Wash Became An Environmental Disaster

Tiny “microbeads” in beauty products seemed great, until someone tried to clean them up.


5: Postcards From The Future Show What London Will Look Like After Climate Change

Rising sea levels have turned London into Venice. Buckingham Palace is surrounded by slums that house climate refugees. This is what the future could hold.

6: This Is What Your City Would Look Like If All The World’s Ice Sheets Melt

You’re going to need to learn the names of some new islands.

7: Watch 60 Years Of Climate Change In 15 Seconds

After NASA scientists analyzed data from 1,000 meteorological stations from around the globe, they found a strange pattern.


8: Louisiana Is Going To End Up Underwater Sooner Than You Might Think

This is really happening: A swath of a U.S. state—and an entire culture—is about to be lost underwater.


9: Intel’s CEO Reveals The Company’s Plans To Build A Conflict-Free Supply Chain By 2016

How the electronics giant is leading the industry in making sure its products do not fuel war, corruption, and atrocities in mining nations.

10: The Future Of Coffee Looks Bitter And Pricey, Courtesy Of Climate Change

Attention coffee snobs: If you don’t care about climate change already, now might be a good time to start.

11: Drones Can Get Around Strict “Ag Gag” Laws And Document Horrifying Factory Farms

Some states have made it illegal for people to take photos or video of livestock operations. Drones to the rescue?


12: The Price Of Ignoring Climate Change Is Far Higher Than We Think

In the future, society will have to pay for each puff of carbon emissions emitted today. And the bill from the damages—from rising seas and the spread of diseases—is going to cause sticker shock.

Read more of our best stories of the year, in these categories: Most-read, photos, infographics, lists, videos, maps, buildings, robots, transportation, bikes, food, collaborative consumption, cities, energy, environment, health, education, crowdfunding, innovative workplaces, and privacy.

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.

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