Building the World

December 2, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Diplomacy on Ice

Flag of the Antarctic Treaty. Image: wikimedia commons.

December 1, 1959: the world came together not in cold war but in cold peace. The previous year, International Geophysical Year (IGY), 1957-1958, inspired peaceful treaties in two different spheres, both new to human endeavors. Space opened up with landmark IGY achievements including Sputnik, then Vanguard, leading to the Outer Space Treaty. Antartica, earth’s only continent without native human population, became active with 50 IGY scientific stations. Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and the United States called their cooperative IGY initiative “Diplomacy on the Ice.” Antartica is defined as the land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees latitude; it was formerly called Gondwana. On December 1, 1959, the twelve nations opened for signature the Antarctic Treaty; by 2016, the treaty included 53 parties. A treaty system developed including the Protocol on Environmental Protection, Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, expanding the original treaty’s statement: “Recognizing that it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes” for this continent, never home to humans, to honor and protect the abundant other forms of Nature. In this era of climate change, how should signatories safeguard this treasure of earth and environment?

For more: Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic. Rebecca H. Pincus and Salem H. Ali, editors. Yale University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780300205169.

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

November 25, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Island in the Sun

Rose Atoll, American Samoa. Image: NASA.gov.

4,000 miles + 600 people + cost of diesel delivery = innovation. T’au traded fossil fuels for renewable energy via solar collectors combined with storage batteries. Building a microgrid generating 1.4 megawatts of energy, powered by 60 Tesla power packs and 5,328 solar panels, American Samoan island T’au can supply residents and businesses with electricity. In case clouds shroud the island in the sun, battery power runs for three days. Islands in space, like satellites launched by Comsat, Nasa, and the International Space Station, rely upon solar energy. But oceanic islands formerly waited for boats to deliver diesel to power generators. T’au’s solar innovation, funded by contributors including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and American Samoa Economic Development Authority, may set a new standard for renewable energy. Next? Tesla and partner Solar City hope to apply the model to Hawaiian island, Kaua’i.

Thanks to Jason W. Lusk for suggesting 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 License.

Print Friendly

November 18, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

In A Timely Fashion

Minutensprunguhr: by Hk kng. Wikimedia commons.

Today is the birthday of time, it might be said. On 18 November, 1883, the General Railroad Time Convention agreed that a new time standard would take effect. It was just in time. Cities and towns used to set their clocks at noon: noon being one moment in Chicago and quite another in Los Angeles. Such a system proved imperfect when railroads began to stream across the continent: how could train times be coordinated? Public safety demanded a solution; it came from Sandford Fleming, surveyor on the Canadian Pacific Railway route. The Canadian Pacific and the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad came together (even before the Canadian Pacific was completed) and agreed jointly on a system of time zones. Eventually the idea gathered such force that the entire world became galvanized by this innovation. In 1884, the International Prime Meridian Conference, held in Washington, DC, endorsed and inaugurated a worldwide system of time zones. Ever wonder why we say “9am” or “9pm?” The suffix stands for ante-meridiem or post-meridiem. How many other whole world agreements have been universal?

For more:

McNamara, Robert. “Why We Have Time Zones.” http://history1800s.about.com/od/railroadbuilding/fl/Why-We-Have-Time-Zones.htm?

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

November 10, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

A Taste of the Future

Spice market, Marrakech. Photographer, Michal Ostend, 2011. Image: wikimedia commons.

7 November 2016: the United Nations convened COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. Following the historic international consensus achieved at COP21, more than 100 countries have now ratified the Paris Agreement. “This is our moment to take the climate agreement as the central pillar of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” stated Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC. In recognition of the Paris Agreement coming into force, the Eiffel Tower lighted the way in green. Recent developments in some areas, including the United States, may influence the success; can C-Roads help? The goals: bringing the Paris Agreement into the next stage through funding and plans for concrete implementation.

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

November 4, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet Train

Chuo Shinkansen: Japanese “flying trains” will travel 1 mile every 10 seconds. Image: wikimedia commons.

What’s faster than a speeding bullet, a phrase used to describe Superman? The new Shinkansen, or Japanese bullet train. Japan Rail announced the design of a magnetic levitation train that will achieve speeds over 600 kilometers per hour (374 miles per hour), or 1 mile (1.5km) every 10 seconds. Maglev trains are already in regular service in China: Shanghai and Changsha; as well as Korea, in Incheon. When Japan hosted the 1964 Olympics, Shinkansen was introduced, with the Tokyo-Osaka line. By  2002, Shinkansen had transported 382 billion passengers, with a 99% on-time record. Japan’s success inspired France’s TGV and Germany’s Intercity-Express. Maglev Chuo Shinkansen will shoot from Tokyo to Nagoya in 40 minutes; the line will soon extend to Osaka. Japan will follow a new law passed in 2001 that decrees that developers need not purchase land above, if digging more than 40 meters (131 feet) below. The law names the underground territory as daishindo (extreme underground). When will Amtrak emulate Japan’s leadership in train transport?

Hongo, Jun. “Tokyo underground: taking property development to new depths.” Japan Times. 12 April 2014. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/04/12/lifestyle/tokyo-underground/#.WBuoQygylDJ/

Lo, Andrea. “Can mega-fast maglev revive Japan’s rail reputation?” 3 November 2016. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/31/asia/japan-record-breaking-maglev-train/

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

October 28, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

World’s Largest Marine Reserve

Penguins on iceberg in Antarctic. Image: wikimedia commons.

In a watermark of history, 1.57m sq km (600,000 sq miles) of the Southern Ocean, considered to be perhaps the Earth’s most pristine marine environment, have become the world’s largest marine reserve. Nations gathered to approve the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources‘ protection of the Ross Sea. It’s only 2% of the vast Southern Ocean, but home to 38% of the world’s Adélie penguins, and other marine life. Some of the deepest areas send nutrients into the currents circling the globe. Lewis Pugh was there. United Nations Patron for the Oceans, the activist athlete undertook a series of swims termed “speedo diplomacy.” Pugh is also the first person to swim the seven seas. The Ross Sea is a time-limited agreement, however: some nations wanted just 20 years, but the parties agreed to 35. Designating nature reserves has been accomplished by individual countries: the National Trails System of the United States is but one example. However, the world’s waters require regional and global agreements.

Innis, Michelle. “Coast of Antarctica Will Host World’s Largest Marine Reserve.” 27 October 2016. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/world/australia/antarctica-ross-sea-marine-park.html?_r=0

McGrath, Matt. “World’s largest marine protected area declared in Antarctica. 28 October 2016. BBC.com. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37789594.

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

October 21, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Chill — Out

“Snow Flake” by Wilson Bentley, photographer. Image: wikimedia commons.

Kigali: The world has agreed to protect the environment by phasing out harmful coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners. Almost 200 countries, equivalent to the number of nations that signed the COP 21 Paris Agreement not far from Eiffel Tower, agreed to the amendment to the Montreal Protocol. One of the most dangerous causes of greenhouse gases, HFCs produce 100 to 1000 times more than carbon dioxide. Rwanda’s minister of natural resources, Dr. Vincent Biruta, gaveled the historic moment.

For more:

Harder, Amy and Russel Gold. “Companies Readying for New Limits to Emissions for Air Conditioners and Refrigerators.” The Wall Street Journal. 15 October 2016.

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

October 13, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Nobel Surprise

Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bob Dylan (who changed his birth name to honor the poet Dylan Thomas) won the Nobel Prize for Literature today. It is the first time the prize has been awarded to a songwriter; although many would argue that Bob Dylan is a poet, like fellow laureates T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats, whose work is deepened with music. Among Dylan’s anthems, “Blowin’ in the Wind” was performed at the Washington Mall just before Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Bono, citing Keats, stated that Bob Dylan “juggled beauty and truth.” What is the role of the poet in political change and world issues?

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

October 7, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

India and the Climate of Peace

Be the change you want to see: Gandhi. Image: wikimedia commons.

India has ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.  The land of the Taj Mahal has a sense of ceremony; the historic decision was taken on October 2, Gandhi’s birthday. Joining other carbon giants, China and United States who both ratified the agreement in September, India declared its intention to pursue “development without destruction.” India, accounting for 4.5 percent of carbon emissions becomes the 62nd nation to deliver a legal instrument of ratification. To date, enough countries have now joined and ratified that only 3 percent point more are needed to reach the 55 percent required; the 55-nation aspect has already been met and surpassed. It is predicted that the Climate Agreement will come into effect on 4 November 2016. Mahatma Gandhi’s message of humanism, environmentalism, and pacifism” is celebrated by the way and date of India’s ratification of the agreement to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. India set the goal of producing 40% of its electricity with non-fossil fuels by 2030. October 2 is also the International Day of Nonviolence.

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

September 30, 2016
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

A Planet of Opportunity

A Planet of Opportunity: Mars. Image: Hubble 2003, wikimedia commons.

Want to be one of a million who begin a new branch of human civilization? Elon Musk has presented, in Guadalajara, Mexico at the International Astronautical Congress in September 2016, four factors to achieve multi-planetary success. The SpaceX Mars mission will take off from the launch pad that Nasa used for Apollo 11. Mars could have a new city with one million people by 2060. Musk states: “It will be a planet of opportunity.”

For Elon Musk’s presentation, “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” with specific details, at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFA6DLT1jBA.

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