Hosted by public radio veterans Alex Chadwick and Flora Lichtman, 'The Adaptors' chronicles how people are adapting to climate change. Adaptors are all around us: from the farmers and coastal-dwellers finding new ways to work and live, to the scientists thinking outside the box about energy, to corporate leaders bringing new technologies to market, to the garage tinkerers and DIY inventors dreaming up the next big thing in green living.
In fact, we’re all adaptors. That’s what makes us human. So while climate change stories often feel impossibly hopeless and divisive, 'The Adaptors' suggests the opposite. We are finding people from all walks of life who are creatively working to counteract energy and climate crises.
A good example of this is Amy Prieto. In 2009 Amy started the 'Prieto Battery' company while working as a chemist and professor at Colorado State University. She created this business to make something useful and would challenge her grad students. The focus was on what industry needed while innovating ways to make lithium-ion batteries faster, more powerful and safer. By rethinking every aspect of those batteries her team is finding novel ways of using new materials. They also look at known materials to figure out new ways to make them safer and better. The goal is to make every part better, including the basic structure of the battery. The company is ready to commercialize with one improved component that all batteries use. They found a way to make it really cheap and fast without being toxic.
"I'm describing a way of thinking where I already knew what the end point should be in terms of the physical properties. Other people have already invented batteries that do those things. So I'm thinking about what component can I replace and how can I make it more chemically stable. There are many instances in modern technology that we can try to approach in that way."
This plan is typically not used because it makes the development time longer. You end up looking at materials that turn out to not be as good or maybe toxic. The alternatives may not be perfect but may work if there is enough improvement. Incremental change is what innovation is all about. We all need to focus on ways to reverse the negative impact that technology brings with its advancements.