Building the World

May 24, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

City as Art

Singing’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly. Will Boston’s “Raining Poetry” set a new style for the City as Art? Image: wikimedia commons.

Baghdad was designed in three concentric circles drawn in the sand by founder Caliph al-Mansur, who named the new capital “Madinat as-Salam” or “City of Peace.” As Toynbee observed in Cities of Destiny, urban centers possess cultural magnetism. Boston is showering the city in art: poetry appears in the rain. A collaboration of Boston City Hall, the Mayor’s Mural Crew, and Mass Poetry, the project echoes public art along the Greenway. Chicago’s Millennium Park brings public art to a new gathering green downtown. Beijing also uses urban life to uplift: riders on the metro’s Line 4 can access Chinese poetry and philosophy through barcodes posted in passenger cars. China’s Grand Canal standardized written language, facilitating government, and cultural, exchange. Boston’s poems, however, are ephemeral; disappearing ink lasts just a few weeks. But words are, as Roman poet Horace stated, “monumentum aere perennius” – “a monument more lasting than bronze” or as Langston Hughes, whose poem graces Dudley Square, might observe: “Still Here.”

Thanks to Chak Ngamtippan for suggesting featuring Boston’s “Raining Poetry.”

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

Print Friendly

May 20, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

The Earth is Breathing

Blue marble: see the earth breathing. Image: Blue Marble.nasa.gov

The month of May is a time of blossoming, in the northern part of the globe. People emerge from buildings, strolling on greenways to breathe the fresh air. And it would seem that the earth does too. NASA has published a video depicting the alternation of bloom cycles; as the months cause changes in the biosphere, the earth itself is breathing.

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

 

Print Friendly

May 13, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Water and Power

Gateway of India at night; will electric power continue during India’s drought? Image: wikimedia commons.

Climate change threatens the world’s water, not only for drinking and sanitation, not only for agriculture and industry, but for power. Tehri hydroelectric dam, tallest in India, is running dry, and Maharastra’s 1,130MW Parli had to be shut down due to lack of water needed to operate. Australia, most arid country on earth, addressed rapid population growth through Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, providing over 100, 000 jobs. India has responded to the water crisis by truck and train; 10 of India’s 29 states are suffering severe drought. In 1951, India’s population was 350 million, and each person had access to 5,200 cubic meters of water per annum; in 2016, water availability dropped to 1,400 cubic meters, as the population rose to 1.3 billion. Water may be one of the most severe results of climate change. Safe drinking water and sanitation are offered to 11 states in India through grant and WaterCredit programs by Water.org. How can the world pursue further improvements and access, for all, to water?

Mallet, Victor. “India’s power stations are hit as big dams run dry.” 5 May 2016. The Financial Times.

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

Print Friendly

May 6, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Mine the Gap

A year might make a lifetime of difference. Image: peacecorps.gov.

When a first daughter decided upon a gap year, the world voiced opinion. Some worried that a year off assumed privilege; others expressed admiration for benefits of time in the ‘real world’ of work, experience, travel, service, or specialized training. Balancing gown and town, in 1209, King John hired a French engineer and cleric who “in a short time hath wrought in regard to the Bridges of Xainctes and Rochelle, by the great care and pains of our faithful, learned and worthy Clerk, Isenbert, Master of the Schools of Xainctes” to build London Bridge. Charlemagne’s engagement with Alcuin, or the Netherland’s institution of the Dike Army (“ende alman sal ten menen werke comen op den dijc“), are examples of study and service. The medieval guilds combined learning, doing, and regional travel; Erasmus today is reminiscent. City Year Americorps offers options with college scholarships; Tufts 4+1 includes a Bridge Year. Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, discovered a new idea when hiking in Bamberg on a student vacation. The University of Massachusetts Boston offers support for travel and scholarship to nations and locations featured in Building the World, through the Building a Better World Fund. Many ‘gap’ programs involve travel: Frank P. Davidson, whose early experience in Mexico has been cited as forerunner to the Peace Corps, suggested an interplanetary year. To fulfill the global vision of the Paris Agreement COP21, environment, governance, and industry may transform through engaged education.

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

Print Friendly

April 27, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Year of the Tree

Earth Day 2016 dedicates the year to planting more trees; 7.8 billion in the next five years. Image: wikimedia commons.

Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world, having grown from “a national teach-in on the environment” in 1970, sponsored by Wisconsin U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, in partnership with Pete McCloskey from Congress, and Denis Hayes of Harvard University: 20 million took to the streets to protest the abuse of, and protect the future of, the environment. Soon, the Environmental Protection Agency was founded; the Clean Air, Clean Water (amended in 1972 from an earlier version) and Endangered Species Acts were made law. In 1990, Nelson and Hayes took Earth Day global: 200 million in 141 countries united around the planet. Environmental provisions were part of the New River, built in England in 1609; the Canal des Deux Mers in France begun in 1666; and Boston’s Central Artery depressed underground while a Greenway graces the former traffic surface. Nature is an increasingly precious resource; 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service of the United States, including the Appalachian Trail. The theme for Earth Day 2016? Trees: 7.8 billion to be planted in the next five years. New England universities including Roger Williams may lead the way. Earth Day April 22 2016 also made history: the largest number of nations ever to sign an international agreement on the same day gathered for the Climate Signing Ceremony at the United Nations.

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

Print Friendly

April 22, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

(Re)New Earth Day

First view of the entire sunlit side of earth, 6 July 2015. Image: Nasa.

Earth Day: 2016. The largest number of nations ever in history to sign an international agreement in a single day, 175 countries from around the globe pledged to follow the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Other world-wide agreements that changed history include the International Prime Meridian Conference of 1884 where nations agreed upon time zones based upon a meridian to be the common tuning fork “for time-reckoning throughout the whole world.” Adopting policies for renewable energy, reduced global warming, and a sustainable environment, Earth Day 2016 may be a turning point in the history of hope.

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

Print Friendly

April 14, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

On thin ice

“Oldest Arctic Sea Ice is Disappearing 1980 (bottom) and 2012 (top),” by J. Comiso, NASA.

Artic sea ice is at near-record lows. Melting ice may cause a rise in ocean levels. When Canada and the United States cooperated to build the Alaska Highway, one of the challenges was permafrost, also a factor in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. But recent warming of permafrost is a far more serious problem, threatening the release of methane. Global warming, and resultant ice melt, could accelerate sea level rise by as much as 2 meters or 6.5 feet. A recent assessment indicates that if Antarctic ice continues to melt, by 2500, sea levels will rise to 50 feet, as predicted by Robert DeConto of University of Massachusetts Amherst and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University, in a study published in Nature. What should be done to mitigate sea level rise? NASA’s Carlos Del Castillo of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory, as well as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, known as the “Ocean State,” may lead initiatives that help to build a better world.

For more:

To watch 25 years of sea ice disappear in one time-lapse minute:http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/27/arctic-sea-ice-melt/

Thanks to Evan T. Litwin for suggesting the video.

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

Print Friendly

April 4, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Raising the (Green) Roof

Chicago’s City Hall. Image: wikimedia commons.

Spring downpours may evoke the expression: “raining cats and dogs.” In days of thatched roofs, domestic animals burrowed into the substrate, jumping forth during vernal storms. Green roofs (and walls) are making a comeback. Insulating, sound absorbing, green roofs soak up 70% of rainwater, reducing local flooding. Green roofs feature recycled materials. The Roman aqueducts, and roads, as reported by Vitruvius, were 1 part chalk + 2 parts sand (preferably local volcanic pozzolanic) + 20% water. Chicago, USA; Paris, France; Toronto, Canada passed laws requiring new construction include solar or green roofs. Chicago estimated energy savings of $100,000,000 annually, if all its urban roofs were green. Environmental benefits await: while a shady lawn’s summer surface temperature averages 28C, non-green urban roofs measure 52C (125.6 Farhrenheit). Green roofs, especially in cities, may help fulfill the promise of the COP21 agreement.

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

Print Friendly

March 22, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

World Water Day

March 22 is World Water Day. Image: wikimedia commons.

We can live three weeks without food, but only three days without water. Our world faces a water crisis. Alarmingly, every 90 seconds a child dies of a water-related disease. Both developing and developed global areas suffer water problems; Flint, Michigan shocked the United States into awareness, revealing more problems with lead in drinking water discovered in all 50 states. Marine life also suffers: more than 2,000 species are now classified as endangered or threatened. When water safety imperiled ancient Rome, the aqueducts brought fresh spring water from hills to city. The New River, an engineered waterway, similarly saved London. Half of the world’s jobs involve water. How can we respond to the goals of the Paris Agreement COP 21 to improve climate, and water?

Join the discussion:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/white-house-water-summit

https://www.facebook.com/UnitedNationsWater

http://ceowatermandate.org/

Thanks to the Comisión Nacional del Agua of México for world and regional water statistics, and to Cherie E. Potts for U.S. statistics.

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

 

Print Friendly

March 18, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

8 billion hours

Traffic jam in Beijing, 2005. Image: wikimedia commons.

Americans spend 8 billion hours a year stuck in traffic. When the Federal Highway System was built, roadways did not anticipate the lure of the automobile and individual transport. China’s traffic is legendary; Beijing’s 50-lane stall resulted in a film. Aging infrastructure, bridges and roads, present both a danger and an opportunity. As transportation systems are replaced and improved, should solar highways be considered, or lanes for autonomous vehicles? What about filling stations that offer flexible fuel options including electrical charging? Will new transit forms including the Hyperloop transform commuting, reclaiming and returning those 8 billion hours?

Watch a traffic jam in Beijing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3kL6nMap2s

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

Print Friendly
Skip to toolbar