These are contradictory times: While global human-development metrics for life expectancy, literacy, and economic development are improving, metrics for carbon-dioxide emissions, global temperature indices, biodiversity, and ocean acidification—essentially any metric related to climate and environmental health—are getting worse.

The climate problem needs immediate attention, and funders, entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers must play their greatest role yet in solving it.

The enterprising entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers coming up with the big ideas are working in fields as varied as urban mobility, the built environment, and carbon sequestration.

However, three primary areas require the most research, development, and deployment:

  • Energy generation. This incudes all modes of creating energy, including coal, oil, and gas. The cleaner generation methods include nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower. Innovation in this space tends to be incremental, such as improvement in wind-turbine efficiency, but we need continued research into tidal power, molten salt, and even piezoelectric floorboards that store the kinetic energy of footsteps.
  • Energy distribution and transmission. Getting power from source to consumer is both a hardware and a software challenge. Balancing the supply and demand of disparate power grids requires that we have both data and new connectivity. The few grids that are connected are not linked efficiently, resulting in a lot of lost energy.
  • Energy storage. This poses the most challenging and most promising opportunity; developing a sustainable battery-storage technology is mostly a chemistry and materials problem. As the search for the next battery breakthrough beyond lithium ion continues in myriad directions, advances in infinite computing have greatly advanced understanding about energy storage materials.

Read the full article about solutions for climate change by Joe Speicher at Stanford Social Innovation Review.