Pieter Hoff: Saving the World with Radical Roots and Water Batteries

Pieter Hoff

Pieter Hoff is renewing a tried-and-true environmentalist mission: saving the world by planting trees. But Hoff has the technology to go with it; he’s engineering new ways to nurture trees in some of the world’s driest, harshest climates.

He begins by identifying a problem: millions of people are already going hungry, and 10 billion more will be coming as the world’s population grows. He asks: “Is there a possibility that we can feed those people?” He then identifies another problem: an excess of CO² in the atmosphere and the resultant global warming.

His solution to both is the Groasis Waterboxx: a device that “drinks from the air” by collecting condensation and storing it, therefore becoming a sort of “water battery.” He says the biggest challenge for plants in arid climates is not the amount of rain, but the consistency: it’s the dry seasons that kill any chance of growth. The Waterboxx proposes to solve that by creating a continuous source of water from occasional rainfalls.

Groasis Waterboxx

In addition, Hoff has also been investigating how plants grow on uneven or rocky terrain. His focus is on the “radical root,” a type of plant root that is able to bore through seemingly impenetrable rocks in order to establish a stable base. He hopes to apply this research to expand the earth’s plant growth potential even further.

Hoff finishes his talk by pointing out his wooden clogs, noting that they were grown from trees. Clearly a proud Dutchman, he presents the many dykes and canals built in his below-sea-level home nation as a testament to the possibility of human will: “All you see in this country is based on free will. But it’s also based on determination. We really wanted to do it.” Hoff clearly really wants to tackle this problem, and he asks: do you?

(Photo credit: Kris Krüg)

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