Building the World

December 24, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Protective Freeze on Melting Seas

Ursus Maritimus: a family of polar bears. Image: wikimedia commons.

20 December 2016: Canada and the United States moved to protect designated areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, making the waters off limits to leasing and oil drilling. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in Alaska, emptying quantities of crude oil into the waters and damaging 1,300 miles of coastal land. Animals in the area are still struggling to recover. More recently, Shell’s drilling ship Kulluk ran into Arctic trouble: the accident halted any further exploration for oil. The December 20, 2016 agreement, signed cooperatively between Canada and the United States, regards the Arctic Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia to New England. Canada and the United States also cooperated in the face of danger when building the Alaska Highway. Recently, the Antarctic Marine Sanctuary in the Ross Sea created the first marine protected area in international waters, during the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). In shared waters, cooperative agreements can place a protective freeze on melting seas.

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.

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December 12, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Antarctica Drops Sea Ice the Size of India

India’s size is 1,269 million square miles. That’s how much sea ice Antartica lost. Image: www.lib.utexas.edu.

Antarctica lost 1.48 million square miles (3.84 million square kilometers): about the size of India, or two Alaskas.  Earth’s polar regions are different: the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land, but the Antarctic is land surrounded by water. That’s why Antarctica’s glaciers could disappear more quickly. Satellite observations, reported in a new long-term study, confirm Antarctic glaciers are losing 7m per year.  What actions should the Antarctic Treaty take to respond?

Comparing North and South Polar areas, http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/CLIMATECHANGE-ICE/010030W31X1/CLIMATECHANGE-ICE.jpg

Amos, Jonathan. “Ice loss spreads up Antarctic glaciers,” BBC Science & Environment, 12 December 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38256932

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.

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April 14, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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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

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October 27, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Interconnectivity: Americas

 

Simon Bolivar. Image: wikimedia commons.

Should the Americas be interconnected; if so, in which ways? Simon Bolivar raised the issue in 1826; Bill Clinton continued the debate at 1994’s Summit of the Americas, as Nafta took a further step. In 2015, is it time to consider the Pan-American Highway , perhaps inspired by its original vision? Pan-American Railway reconnaissance surveys were completed in 1897, but in 1923, the 29, 800 mile route instead became a highway. Now, with magnetic levitation and tube train technology, envisioned by Frankel and Davidson, and recently by Tesla/SpaceX-founder Elon Musk, there is an opportunity. The most difficult part of large-scale infrastructure may be the securing of rights-of-way: in this case, already agreed. The route has never been completed, respecting the Darien Gap’s precious environment. But might an elevated tube train serve as flyover? On the ground, “La Carreterra Panamericana” could thus be preserved, and even enhanced by addition of a Sportsway inspired by Benton MacKaye’s Appalachian Trail. Summit of the Americas 2015 convenes in Panama; might Juan Carlos Varela propose a new vision? Will Bolivia, named after Simon Bolivar, lead the way to an environment of greater connectivity with Law 071, “Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra?”

Bolivia: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

Musk’s Hyperloop: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/12/tech/innovation/hyperloop-fastest-trains/

Pan-AmericanRail:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/69842/warren-kelchner/the-pan-american-highway

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.

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June 25, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Alaska Highway – Environment

Alaska — Image from Wikimedia Commons

A cooperative endeavor undertaken by Canada and the United States, the Alaska Highway was dreamt of from the days of the Yukon gold rush, sketched a half century later, and finally built during a military emergency. It was one of the earliest attempts at homeland security. The arduous road, likened in difficulty to building the Panama Canal, challenged 16,000 workers for 1400 miles through frost, mud, and bogs in the 1940s. For the fascinating story of how the road was actually built, see (www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/introduction/alaska/). Today, together with the Alaska Pipeline, the northern territory faces another emergency, climate change. The polar bear has become a symbol of the environment of Alaska and the northern treasures of our world. How should we protect and preserve Alaska in the midst of environmental change?

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.

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October 16, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Road Trip!

Map of the “Pan-American highway.”

The Alaska Highway is the northern part of the unofficial Pan-American Highway, a drivable series of roads that begin at the top of Alaska and end at the southern tip of South America. The distance is nearly 30,000 continuous miles of roads, although there is a small break in the Colombian rainforest. Needless to say, it dwarfs most cross-country road trips.

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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.

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