Building the World

June 22, 2019
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ENERGY: Net Zero = 10 Million Jobs

“Wind power plants in Xinjiang, China” by Chris Lim, from Windmills in China series, 2005. Image: wikimedia.

Nations, and industries, are steadily reducing carbon emissions;  the June 2019 European Union (EU) meeting  signaled progress. Finland and Norway have resolved to achieve energy net-zero (state where input and output result in a zero balance) by 2035; others pledged 2050. The COP21 Paris Agreement advocated all signatory countries (over 190) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. Recently, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, urged the European Union to cut beyond that to 55%. Contributing to that goal is the phasing out of burning coal, and terminating approval of new coal-fired power plants after 2020. European Union nations failed to reach agreement on net zero by 2050; they did agree, however, to study ways to achieve that goal. One stopping point: some EU nations are more dependent upon fossil fuel systems; for example, Poland relies upon coal for 80% of its energy and many of its jobs.

“Installing Solar Panels,” Oregon Department of Transportation, 2008. Image: wikimedia

Energy Jobs: Renewable energy jobs are quickly growing and may soon overtake fossil sources. In a report by Climate Nexus, in the United States, “more people (over 3 million) work in wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy fields than are employed as registered nurses and just shy of those working as school teachers.” Globally, people working in renewable energy reached 10 million in 2017 and continues to grow, attracting investment in technologies like solar photovoltaic. Hot job markets? By 2026, wind technician jobs will increase 96% and solar installer positions will grow 106%.

Energy innovations have always stimulated investment and jobs. The Tennessee Valley Authority was both a federally-owned electricity utility that served seven states, as well as a regional employment program: 9,000 people were hired in the first year. Will the TVA divest its 8 coal plants? There are also 30 hydroelectric facilities, 16 natural gas plants, 3 nuclear powerhouses, 14 solar energy sites and one wind energy farm. It’s still the biggest power campus in the United States. Also noteworthy: the muscle shoals sound.

Migrants invited to Australia to work on Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric also helped to build a new nation. Image: “Sydney Opera House” by Steve Collins, 2011: wikimedia.

Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric hired 100, 000, recruiting locally in Australia and also inviting war-displaced migrants to move for work and opportunity: “You won’t be Balts or Slavs…you will be people of the Snowy!” promised Sir William Hudson, first commissioner of the project. As renewable energy grows, the world may experience improvements in climate, innovation, migration, and employment.

Climate Nexus. “WHERE THE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS ARE: 2019” Climate Nexus. https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/energy/clean-energy-jobs-2019/

Darby, Megan. “Which countries have a net zero carbon goal?” 14 June 2019. Climate Change News. https://www.climatechangenewscom/2019/06/14/countries-net-zero-climate-goal/

De Carbonnel, Alissa. “U.N. chief calls on EU to raise 2030 climate goal to 55%.” 15 June 2019. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-climate-un-exclusive-un-chief-calls-on-eu-to-raise-2030-climate-goal-to-55-idUSKCN1TG0FY?smid=nytcore-ios-share/

International Renewable Energy Agency. “Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2018.” May 2018: ISBN: 9789292600624. https://www.irena.org/publications/2018/May/Renewable-Energy-and-Jobs-Annual-Review-2018.

Marcacci, Silvio. “Renewable Energy Job Boom Creates Economic Opportunity As Coal Industry Slumps.” 22 April 2019. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/energy/innovation/2019/04/22/renewable-energy-job-boom-creating-economic-opportunity-as-coal-industry-slumps/.

Schreuer, Milan. “E.U. Leaders Fail to Strengthen Climate Target.” 20 June 2019. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/climate/europe-carbon-neutral.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Sengupta, Somini. “Can Europe Wean Itself From Fossil Fuels?” 19 June 2019. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/19/climate/europe-cargon-neutral.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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June 15, 2019
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SPACE: Airbnb $35,000 per night

Astronaut Dale A. Gardner holds “For Sale” sign. Image: nasa.gov

Space is growing increasingly private and commercial. NASA announced the availability of the International Space Station for private rental. Chief Financial Office Jeff DeWit stated that while NASA will continue research for lunar and other explorations, the agency will also work with the private sector, in a vision that sees low-Earth orbit as a public/private economy. It’s not new: more than 50 businesses are already conducting commercial R&D aboard the International Space Station; another set of companies have installed commercial facilities on the ISS National Lab. Bookings are open to those meeting 3 criteria:

Project requirements for Booking a Space on ISS:

Project must require microgravity environment to enable development of a commercial application;

Project  must have a connection to NASA’s mission;

Project must “support development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy.

Privately-sponsored astronauts may stay aboard iSS for up to 30 days, with 5% of crew spots open for booking. Interested in knowing more? There is a Request for Information (RFI) from NASA for enabling commercial activity in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its “Plan for Commercial Lower Earth Orbit Development” – deadline July 3.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson aboard ISS in 2011. Image: wikimedia

International Space Station booking gives new meaning to “AirBnB” with the per night price of $35,000. Boeing and SpaceX will handle transit and related services. Space, once the realm of government engineering and science, is changing rapidly; how should the Outer Space Treaty, still restricted to nations, be updated to recognize and manage private enterprise?

NASA. “NASA Opens International Space Station to New Commercial Opportunities, Private Astronauts.”

NASA. “Plan for Commercial Lower Earth Orbit Development.” https://www.fbogov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=0f19423342d628199e2b03c7bf79d11e.

Nasdaq video conference link: “Space station will open to tourists, NASA says,” by Michael Sheetz.  7 June 2019. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/07/nasa-opening-iss-to-business-including-private-astronauts-by-202.html.

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June 8, 2019
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WATER: World Oceans Day

“Large Breaking Wave.” Image: noaa.gov, wikimedia

World Oceans Day, celebrated June 8, reminds us of the beauty, importance, and critical sustainability of our water. By 2050, there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Unless we take action.  Should new agreements involving Canada, Mexico, and the United States include the oceans that border our land? Might the Canal des Deux Mers in France champion ways to protect the Atlantic Ocean? Will Shinkansen, Japan’s Shinkansen train system now being upgraded for the 2020 Olympics, engage athletes in preservation of the Pacific Ocean? In 2019, you are invited to take a photo of yourself or your friends at the ocean, pictured with arms in the air; photo cropped so hands touch the upper corners of the frame: post using the hashtag: #TogetherWeCan. This year’s theme: Gender and the Ocean.

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May 31, 2019
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WATER: antibiotics on tap

Pills of antibiotic cefalexin. Photographer: Sage Ross, 2014. Image: wikimedia commons.

Feeling sick? It may the drugs you just took when you drank a sip of coffee or a glass of water. Affecting not just humans but aquatic life, medications are entering the water as fast as plastic – they’re just harder to see.

Antibiotics have been found in 65% of over 70 world waterways tested. For example, a site in Bangladesh showed Metronidazole present at levels 300 times the safe limits (20,000 to 32,000 nanogram per liter (ng/l) guidelines set by AMR Industry Alliance). The most frequent contaminant? trimethoprim found at 301 of 711 river testing sites. Most prevalent antibiotic found at dangerous levels: Ciprofloxacin, in 51 of the 72 countries tested.

Chao Phraya River Drainage Basin. Image: wikimedia.

Rivers all over the world show similar results: Chao Phraya, Danube, Seine, Thames.  Some areas of the world suffer infected water more: Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan ranked highest of sites monitored. In general, Asia and Africa frequently exceeded safety limits for antibiotics but problems were also found in Europe, North and South America. In other words, it’s global.

Of course, antibiotics save lives. But that’s just the problem: growing global resistance to antibiotics, anti fungals, antivirals caused 700,000 deaths yearly due to drug-resistant diseases, among them tuberculosis. The United Nations’ Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance predicts that by 2030, over one million people will die every year due drug-resistant diseases.

PROBLEMS: Individuals are in no small part responsible: a study in California revealed half of all medications are discarded, often into the water supply. Another problem: even if we don’t intend to, individuals deposit drugs into the water supply.  People take a lot of drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter; our bodies metabolize only a percentage of the intake, excreting the rest into wastewater systems. And then there are the larger systemic depositors: hospitals try to return unused drugs to manufacturers obtaining a credit or at least assured safe disposal, but care and nursing facilities may not have such arrangements. Certainly drug manufacturers generate highly concentrated waste; downstream of a New York State pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, antibiotic concentrations showed levels 1,000 times higher than normal. And then there’s agriculture: poultry and livestock farming are responsible for two trillion pounds of animal waste filled with the hormones and antibiotics fed to the animals to optimize growth and marketability.

Antibiotics harm fish and aquatic life. Image: Giant Group, Georgia Aquarium, Wikimedia.

Other ways animals are affected? Aquatic life itself is changing: so much estrogen has entered rivers and ponds that male fish are showing genetic changes including the development of intersex fish, especially downstream of wastewater treatment plants: notable is Washington’s Potomac River.

Filters are one approach: water treatment plants have been successful at filtering out ibuprofen but couldn’t catch diclofenax, another pain reliever. Chlorine used in drinking water treatment does reduce bacteria and also degrades acetaminophen and the antibiotic sulfathiazole, and also carbamazepine (by 75%). Still, chemicals are getting into our bodies simply by turning on the tap: Southern Nevada Water Authority found antibiotics, antipsychotics, beta blockers, and tranquilizers in the drinking water as far back as 2010. It is only getting worse.

SOLUTIONS

Pharmaceutical systems include manufacturing, distribution, consumption, disposal, and waste treatment: each step of the process offers opportunities for intervention and innovation. Regulations, at a national, local, or global level, can be effective: compliance is now an industry with consultants like Stericycle with programs “designed to meet regulatory requirements.” Of course, pharmaceutical businesses have in-house programs and systems, including segregating hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are then sent to a Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF). It’s a big business: UBS and Vanguard are investors, along with 500 other financial funds. Stericycle has 22,000 employees: competitors include Republic Services with 36,000 and Waste Management with 42,000 employees. It’s a business of the future: pharmaceutical use shows no sign of decreasing, although there is a movement to encourage safer drugs.

Jardine Water Purification Plant, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Image: wikimedia.

Nations and cities can take action. Water facilities such as the Jardine Water Purification Plant in Chicago, Illinois, world’s largest by volume, draws water from the American Great Lakes for distribution to 390 million urban residents. Research and innovation here could lead the way. In Europe, Germany invested one billion euro in the last two decades to water infrastructure including wastewater collection and treatment, in some ways advancing beyond the EU’s Council Directive 98/83/EC.1

Waterways themselves can innovate. When the Roman Aqueducts were built, it was due to an increasingly polluted Tiber River. When London’s water supply from the Thames became problematic, a public-private system was developed: the New River. Will the Grand Canal of China, part of the Belt and Road Initiative, lead research and action to improve the aquatic environment ? Might Inland Waterways International champion ways to improve the health of rivers and other created waterways?

SOLUTION: YOU – What can you do?

Don’t purchase bulk or volume packaging, avoiding accumulation of unused or expired chemical formulations.

Never flush unused medications, vitamins, or supplements down the drain.

When you must dispose, trash/landfill is preferable to flush/water. First, remove pills from container (recycle container),  then crush the pills, add a bit of water, and seal the result in a strong plastic bag before placing in trash.

MORE

Boxall, Alistair. York Environmental Sustainability Institute, and SETAC Helsinki 2019: https://helsinki.setac.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SETAC-Helsinki-programme-book.pdf; and .https://www.york.ac.uk/yesi/news/pharmaceuticals/

Craft. “Stericycle Competitors and Alternatives.” https://craft.co/stericycle/competitors/

Fox, Kara. “The world’s rivers are contaminated with antibiotics, new study shows.” 27 May 2019, CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/27/health/antibiotics-contaminate-worlds-rivers-intl-scli/index.html.

Harvard University. “Drugs in the water.” June 2011, Harvard Health Letter. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/drugs-in-the-water.

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). https://www.setac.org

Stericycle.com NASDAQ: SRCK

University of York. “Antibiotics found in some of the world’s rivers exceed ‘safe’ levels, global study finds.” 27 May 2019. https://www.york.ac/uk/news-and-events/news/2019/research/antibiotics-found-in-some-of-worlds-rivers/

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May 20, 2019
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TRANSPORT: Channel Tunnel Celebrates 25 Years

“Chris Froome: First person to cycle through Eurotunnel.” In the Chunnel’s third ‘service’ tunnel. Image: wikimedia.

Frank P. Davidson, American co-founder, in 1957, of the Channel Tunnel Study Group, coined the word “chunnel” for the fixed link between France and England that had been a dream of Napoleon, and drawn up as an engineering plan by Albert Mathieu-Flavier in 1802. Many historians credit Davidson whose Study Group worked with Charles Dunn of International Engineering Company/Morrison-Knudsen. Bechtel Corporation, Brown & Root, and banker Thomas Lamont, to design the three-tunnel system, as the “father of the Channel Tunnel.”

“Folkestone White Horse” carved by artist Charlie Newington as a Millennial Landmark on the cliffs overlooking the English Terminus of the Channel Tunnel.

Built by 13,000 workers from France and England, the tunnel opened 6 May 1994 and was immediately named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It’s an economic, and environmental, success. The Channel Tunnel has proved valuable to participating economies (2018 figures):

Total passengers: 20,611,337

Total cars: 2,610,242

Total freight trains: 1,797

Total trucks: 1,641,638

Total trade through the Channel Tunnel: Euro 137.8bn

Source: Ernst & Young 2018

ENVIRONMENT: Economic contribution is matched, perhaps exceeded, by environmental value: the tunnel helps to collect and mitigate emissions, making the Eurostar trip from London to Paris 90% cleaner than a short-haul air flight.

ANNIVERSARY GIFT: For its 20th anniversary, in 2014, Eurotunnel added another Channel to the Chunnel (the neologism was coined by Davidson): mobile telephone and internet came to the Channel Tunnel. What should the Channel Tunnel do for its 25th anniversary. One possibility: enhancing the power of connectivity, seeing borders as opportunities, not barriers.

Davidson, Frank P. MACRO (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1983). ISBN: 0688021824. Pages: 38-40; 94-102, 296-97.

Davidson, Frank P. editor. With photography by Lilian Kemp. Tunneling and Underground Transport: Future Developments in Technology, Economics, and Policy. (New York: Elsevier, 1985). ISBN: 0444011307

Ernst & Young LLP: Peter Arnold, Harriet Walker, Carmela Carrea. “Economic Footprint of the Channel Tunnel in the EU: An analysis of the value of trade traveling through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and EU countries.” June 2018. https://www.getlnkgroup.com/uploadedFiles/assets-uk/the-channel-tunnel/180604-EY-Channel-Tunnel-Footprint-Report.pdf/

Hunt, Donald. The Tunnel: The Story of the Channel Tunnel 1802-1994. (London: Images Publishing, 1994). ISBN: 1897817347.

Minihane, Joe. “How the Channel Tunnel changed Europe forever.” 4 May 2019, CNN.com. Includes video about how the world’s longest sea tunnel was built with 13,000 English and French workers. “A shared achievement that should stand the test of time.” https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/channel-tunnel-anniversary/index.html.

“New Channel in the Chunnel,” Lusk Brooke, 6 May 2014, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2014/05/07/new-channel-in-the-chunnel/

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May 11, 2019
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CITIES: Capitals Built in Earthquake Zones

“Kathmandu: A collage,” 2012. Image: wikimedia.

Are capitals “moveable feasts?” Yes. History is filled with examples of capitals moved for new dynasties, new visions, coastal security, and more central political representation. In the future, we may see more relocations of capitals. Here’s three reasons:

EARTHQUAKES AND CAPITAL CITIES: There are other capitals, built on seismic ground, like Kathmandu or Tokyo, that may need to move. Another option, illustrated by Tokyo, might be to build a “spare battery” capital away from shaky ground. Indonesia is also earth-quake prone, located in the volcanic Ring of Fire; choice of a new capital location may require seismic assessment before a site is chosen.

What world capitals are vulnerable to shaky ground? At the time it was built, no one knew that Mexico City was located on ground susceptible to earthquakes. With a population of 20 million, the city is dense. Skyscraper towers can become “unintended object of mass destruction,” according to Michael Floyd of MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Loss of a command-and-control center that is a capital city can inhibit and delay disaster response, as seen when on 12 January 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti suffered the loss of records, legal documents, land, census data, tax records, and tragic loss of life, during an earthquake that damaged the government building.

RISING SEAS AND COASTAL CAPITALS: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Lagos, Nigeria are former capitals that ceded succession to Brasilia and Abuja. Both Rio and Lagos are ports. Many great capital cities were built as ports, among them Jakarta. Now, Indonesia may move its capital. Rising seas will inundate many capitals that also serve as ports.

NEW CAPITAL, NEW VISION: Moving a capital can mean a shift in demographic clout, inviting political power to more central areas of a nation. Jakarta is considering an area of Borneo. Will Mexico City plan a new Distrito Federal perhaps  also serving as a regional capital for the Americas?

NEXT STEPS FOR CAPITALS IN EARTHQUAKE ZONES: The massive urban centers that are capitals, even if the government center moves, will still remain vulnerable. Earthquakes will continue: what can be done to preserve and protect cities built on shaky ground?

CAPITAL CITIES IN EARTHQUAKE ZONES

Tokyo, Japan

Mexico City, Mexico

Jakarta, Indonesia

New Delhi, India

Manila, Philippines

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Kathmandu, Nepal

“The 20 Most Earthquake-Vulnerable Cities.” 4 December 2007. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/2007/12/04/earthquakes-india-japan-biz-cx_db_1203earthquakes_slide.html/.

Chu, Jennifer. “Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul.” MIT News. 11 September 2014. http://news.mit.edu/2014/seismic-gap-earthquake-istanbul-0911/.

Davidson, Frank P. and Kathleen Lusk Brooke. “Cities in Danger,” Building the Future, 2012. pages 65-97. University of Massachusetts Boston, Healey Library.

Ergintav, S, R.E. Reilinger, R. Cakmak, M. Floyd, Z. Cakir, U. Dogan, et al. “Istanbul’s earthquake hot spots: Geogetic constraints on strain accumulation along faults in the Marmara seismic gap.” Geophysical Research Letters 41, no. 16 (22 August 2014): 5783-5788.

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May 1, 2019
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Jakarta: first capital to move due to sea rise

Rivers and canals of Jakarta, Indonesia. Image: wikimedia.

 

MOVING THE CAPITAL DUE TO SEA RISE: Jakarta, Indonesia is the fastest sinking city on earth. Sea rise threatens the city, located on land intersected by 13 rivers. A busy port, Jakarta is congested and dense; heavy port buildings weigh down the terrain. As the capital, Jakarta also supports government, industry, and a burgeoning population. Residential and industrial water needs result in considerable pumping from the rivers, further draining the land mass. Another burden of density: traffic – Jakarta’s is among the world’s worst. And then there’s the residential buildings: 10 million people call Jakarta home, making it one of the world’s megacities. Skyscrapers dot the skyline, adding weight. Jakarta has sunk eight feet in the past decade, and the subsidence continues. Half of the city is below sea level.

Baghdad, surrounded by the Tigris River. Image: wikimedia.

NEW CAPITAL, NEW VISION: Changing the capital of a country is not unique in history. Baghdad was founded with a new vision, drawn as three concentric circles with a stroke of the Caliph’s sword marking the new capital. As Baghdad rebuilds, will Frank Lloyd Wright‘s plans and drawings bring Al Mansur’s vision to life as Madinat as-Salam, “City of Peace?” Other times, capitals moved inland from ports: Lagos, a port city, begat Abuja, moving Nigeria’s capital to a central location designed with vision and values including Haussmann’s Paris and L’Enfant’s and Banneker’s Washington, D.C. Rio de Janeiro ceded its position as capital to Brasilia, in part because the city of Ipanema beach became too dense; coastal location also meant vulnerability. The new capital, Brasilia, was central to the diverse country, representing a wider vision. Lucio Costa designed the new capital to be built in the shape of an airplane; Brasilia was the first city built to be seen from the air.

Costa’s Plan for Brasilia, in the shape of an airplane. Image: Library of Congress.

NEW BALANCE OF POWER: Just as Brazil chose an inland location, and Nigeria selected Abuja to relate to the center of the country, so Indonesia’s possible choice of an area of Borneo might represent a wider view. Palangka Raya is in consideration, in part due to a previous proposal by first president (1945-1967) Sukarno.

FUTURE OF COASTAL LOCATIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE: Jakarta is a case example of the future. Rising seas may inundate some of the greatest cities in the world, many built as ports. As Indonesia begins to move its capital away from Jakarta, it will rebuild the coastal metropolis to defend from sea rise: “By 2050, about 95% of North Jakarta may be submerged,” according to Heri Andreas, Bandung Institute of Technology. Can innovations such as those proposed by Lempérière and Deroo to use canals, and rivers, to combat rising seas, help Jakarta and other port cities build a safer, better future? Will the Belt and Road Initiative build very different kinds of ports, using rivers, canals, and urban harbors to address sea rise?

Afra Sapiie, Marguerite. “Jokowi wants to move capital out of Java.” 29 April 2019. The Jakarta Post. https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/29/jokowi-wants-to-move-capital-of-java.html/.

BBC. “Indonesia’s planning minister announces capital city move,” 29 April 2019.

Lemer, Andrew C. “Foreseeing the Problems of Developing Nigeria’s New Federal Capital.” In Macro-engineering and the Future: A Management Perspective. edited by Frank P. Davidson and C. Lawrence Meador. Boulder,  CO: Westview Press, 1982.

Lempérière, François and Luc Deroo. “Peut on éviter les inondations à Paris?” January 2018. Symposium du DCBR : comité français des barrages et réservoirs. http://www.barrages-cfbr.eu/IMG/pdf/symposium2018_10_deroo_lemperiere_peut-on_eviter_les_inondations_a_paris.pdf

Litwin, Evan T. “The Climate Diaspora: Indo-Pacific Emigration from Small Island Developing States.” 2011. University of Massachusetts Boston. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers/cfm?abstract?id=1912859.

Kennedy, Merrit. “Indonesia plans to move its capital out of Jakarta, a city that’s sinking.” 29 April 2019. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/718234878/indonesia-plans-to-move-its-capital-out-of-jakarta-a-city-thats-sinking.

Toppa, Sabrina. “These cities have the worst traffic in the world, says a new index.” 4 February 2016. Jakarta, Istanbul, Mexico City, Surabaya, and St. Petersburg top the world’s cities among 78 surveyed. Time Magazine. http://time.com/3695068/worst-cities-traffic-jams/

Appreciation and recognition: David Edwards-May, Inland Waterways International, Andrew C. Lemer, Evan Litwin, and Cherie Potts for contributions to this post.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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April 22, 2019
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Earth (Day) Song

“Earth.” Image: NASA.gov.

Lil Dicky didn’t set out to make history, or even a song about the earth. At first, it was just an idea about animals with creatures voiced by a friends. But with friends like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, and Leonardo DiCaprio, a song for Earth Day was born. Honoring an occasion with music is not a new idea: the Suez Canal’s opening was celebrated with Verdi’s Aida. Philip Glass composed Itaipú to honor the hydroelectric facility that brings power to Brazil and Paraguay. Glass was inspired for the commission by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to write a work based on the original Guaraní name for the river’s sound: “Singing Stone.” Paul Winter attended a lecture by Roger Payne at Rockefeller University, hearing recorded songs of whales; with then-governor of California Jerry Brown, Winter helped found “Whale Day” and began making music with the troubadours of the deep. Carl Sagan included cetic songs in the compendium of music sent into space. On this Earth Day, what will you do to honor, celebrate, and save the Earth? Give a listen: Earth.

Burd, David Andrew, aka Lil Dicky or LD, and friends. “Earth” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvuN_WvF1to

Glass, Philip. “Itaipú.” Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with thanks to William Keene. https://philipglass.com/compositions/itaipu/

Verdi, Giuseppe. “Aïda.” Hear the rendition by Luciano Pavarotti with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8rsOzPzYr8

Sagan, Carl. Murmurs of Earth. NY: Random House, 1978. https://books.google.com/books/about/Murmurs_of_Earth.html?id=oD90-PBNyr8C and, for your listening pleasure and inspiration: “Sounds of the Earth”: https://soundcloud.com/user-482195982/voyager-golden-record-sampler-1

Winter, Paul. http://www.paulwinter.com/paul-winter/musical-vision/, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdv9QJPVPIY.

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April 11, 2019
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SPACE: Photo of Infinity?

Enter here: matter, time, and space. Black hole Messier 87,  galaxy located in Virgo cluster 53 million light years away. “Black Hole” photograph by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, 10 April 2019. Image: wikimedia commons.

April 2019. A photo of a black hole just gave the world first view of what was thought unseeable. Black holes are so termed because matter, time, space, even light, are pulled into the vortex and never come back, or perhaps become suspended in the energy field around the black hole called the Event Horizon, identified by Stephen Hawking and suggested by Einstein. Messier 87, a very large black hole photographed today, is termed “a supermassive spacetime deforming structure.” (Heater, 2019).

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team. Image: wikimedia.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration worked as a team of eight telescopes around the world, including coordination by NASA. One of the project heroes: Katie Bouman, postdoc fellow from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (Bouman will teach at Caltech in the fall of 2019), who worked on the CHIRP (Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors) algorithm that combined the eight data flows into one image. Also on the CHIRP team: MIT’s Haystack Observatory and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Event Horizon’s photo may place Bouman in the tradition of Photo 51. It’s worth noting that Event Horizon’s historic photo is evidence of the essential importance of global collaboration in space; is this hope for a path to peace?

Bever, Lindsey. “Katie Bouman helped the world see a black hole. Fans want ‘a rightful seat in history’ for her.” 11 April 2019. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/04/11/katie-bouman-helped-world-see-black-hole-fans-want-rightful-seat-history-her/.

Bouman, Katie. “How to take a picture of a black hole.” TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/katie_bouman_what_does_a_black_hole_look_like?language=en.

Event Horizon Telescope. https://eventhorizontelescope.org

Ghosh, Pallab. “First ever black hole image released.” 10 April 2019. BBC Science and Environment.

Hawking. “Black holes store information.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkRDmJpthXg. KTCH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 2015.

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MIT CSAIL. @MIT_CSAIL.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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March 31, 2019
by buildingtheworld
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First Poem written from SPACE

“Good Morning from the International Space Station.” Image: nasa.gov

31 March 2009. Astronaut Wakata Koichi wrote what may be the first poem ever written by a human being in space. Wakata Koichi floated into view on the computer monitor at JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, (counterpart to NASA) at the Tsukuba Space Center. From the International Space Station, called Kibo or Hope in the Japanese language, the scientist/poet held a sheet of paper and wrote something; upon completion, Wakata-san turned the paper to the camera and spoke these words:

Afloat in the darkness before my eyes,

the watery planet bluely glows

How strong is my affection for that ancient home of ours,

how deep my gratitude for the gift of life.

Tomorrow, I will dare the blue sky

and open up worlds unknown

For there we have our dreams.

Wakata Koichi, astronaut, 2009

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Space Poem Chain. http://issjaxa.jp/utiliz/renshi/index_e.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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