Buckminster Fuller’s Legacy Inspires Sustainability Projects Across the Globe

By Alan Gill
Posted in Overcup Press, on April 22, 2016

Every day, you hear about a new way that humans are harming our planet, whether it's through earthquake-causing fracking, ozone-obliterating pollution, or ecosystem-destroying business practices. Whew. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts. Today, on Earth Day (April 22nd) we turn our focus to positive thoughts about the future of Planet Earth.

Steam turbine rotor produced by Siemens, Germany

Photo Credit: Siemens Germany by Christian Kuhna

Maybe that’s one reason why we are so smitten by the great Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, a legendary 20th century polymath and a steadfast advocate for sustainable innovations. We wondered how many people felt as dismayed as we did by this destruction and were working, like Bucky did, to create positive change instead. Turns out, there are plenty. They might also happen to be a heck of a lot smarter than us, but we tried to explain some of their contributions below. Take a look at three of these innovative sustainability developments happening around the world below.

  • Over the course of the last century, the tides of Venice, Italy rose and the city was in danger of flooding and becoming a modern day Atlantis. The solution? Build a complex series of floodgates that tame the sea of course! Named the Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Experimental Electromechanical Module), also known as MOSE, the device rises during high tides and prevents the city from becoming submerged. Not too shabby! 
  • Imagine a city with near zero carbon emissions, a green haven with the smallest ecological footprint in centuries. Now, imagine where the city would be located. Germany? Switzerland? One of the oil titans of the far East? If you picked the last one, you—surprisingly—are right! Just south of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, Masdar City is planning construction with solar paneled buildings, an army of clean-energy vehicles, extreme water recycling, and waste repurposing (hey, at least its efficient)! Not bad for one of the biggest carbon emission-producing countries in the world. 
  • Modern-day foraging might be a little different than our ancestors imagined. Instead of hunting buffalo with spears, we spear buffalo mozzarella with toothpicks at Trader Joe’s, and, instead of protecting fields of vegetables against frost and insects, we squeeze a few tomatoes at Whole Foods before throwing one into our cart. In the spirit of returning to our roots (pun proudly intended), a company called Beacon Food Forest is in the process of creating a sustainable forest where locals can meet and forage for foods. Hoping that the surrounding population will gather here and strengthen community ties, locals will be able to search for berries, nuts, and other edibles. Our ancestors would be so proud.

So whether this post has inspired you or just made you hungry, get involved! If you are curious about what inspired us originally, take a look at our book on Bucky, Buckminster Fuller: Poet of Geometry, written and illustrated by Cole Gerst. It’s full of Bucky’s interesting inventions, vibrant drawings, and enough genius ideas to keep you entertained for hours!