If you had to imagine what we will be obsessing over in 50 years, what would top your list? We put versions of that question to dozens of entrepreneurs, scientists, academics, and artists, including Richard Branson, Temple Grandin, Ian Bremmer, Ann Kim, and Bright Simons. From their 550 answers, some clear themes emerged. One such theme: Algae.
If you’ve only heard about the negative aspects of algae, like how its blooms clog waterways and kill off species, you’re missing half the story. Now scientists and engineers are discovering new ways to harness algae’s unique qualities. They are putting it on our plates, using it to sequester carbon dioxide, even making sneakers out of it. Proponents are touting algae as a way to break some of our most damaging habits, from petrochemical use to eating meat. If the trend continues, perhaps algae will have helped us mitigate some of the effects of climate change.