Building the World

July 14, 2016
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Antique Road Show: Paris bans Past to save Future

Deux Chevaux or 2CV. Cars made before 1987 banned in Paris to improve environment. Image: wikimedia commons.

Known for fine vintage fashion and cognac, for museums enshrining glories of centuries past, city of connoisseurs of aged fromage et vin, Paris will no longer welcome antique automobiles. July, month of the revolution, marked the change: no cars made before 1997 will be allowed on the boulevards on weekdays, between 8am – 8pm. Regulations will tighten soon: in 2020, cars built before 2010 will be restricted. In 2014, after smog veiled the Eiffel Tower, Paris banned half its autos on the road, alternating days by license plates, a practice followed in Mexico City and elsewhere. Effects were so dramatic that the city cancelled the plan after 24 hours after pollution cleared, perhaps in part responding to complaints of 3,859 drivers fined for driving on the wrong day. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, co-chaired a meeting of mayors in parallel with COP21. The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, now brings together 7100 cities from 119 countries. Cities may be able to change policy faster than nations; St. Petersburg once demanded one stone as price of admission to the city. If cities can accelerate environmental improvement, ‘Banned in Boston’ could take on new meaning.

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 9, 2016
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Tunnel (En)Vision

World’s longest tunnel, Gotthard. Image: wikimedia commons.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, world’s longest, opened to fanfare and diplomacy, and a ballet corps of 600, in June 2016. The Gotthard massif has long challenged transport efforts; Gotthard now joins the Mont Blanc Tunnel in traversing mountainous terrain. Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project also features a tunnel to bring vehicular traffic underground while a new greenway park graces the urban landscape above. Tunnels are an ancient instinct: moles know the routes underground, while human endeavors appear to have been early home-improvement projects by cave dwellers adding a second room. Land tunnels preceded water transit ways such as the Channel Tunnel. But all tunnels have one aspect in common: emissions trapped in a contained environment. Research contrasting on-road carbonyl emission factors in two highway tunnels, Caldecott Tunnel near San Francisco, California and Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel in Pennsylvania, was conducted 2002. WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff recommended jet fans to move fumes through long road tunnels. But could there be a better solution? Will the EPA‘s capture and sequestration research apply to tunnels? Might ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy‘s innovation to cleanse carbon dioxide from the exhaust of natural gas- and coal-fired plants be applied to other situations? Carbon capture could take on a new meaning if tomorrow’s tunnels might become channels for environmental improvement.

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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May 24, 2016
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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

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May 20, 2016
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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

 

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April 27, 2016
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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

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July 9, 2015
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Environmental (W)holiness

Pope Francis stated that protecting the environment is a moral and ethical obligation. Image: wikimedia commons.

Pope Francis has updated the list of sins; harming the environment is now of ethical, and moral, import. Environmental provisions were part of building Solomon’s Temple; Hebrew and Phoenician work teams alternated crews so that agriculture could be sustained. More recently, Boston’s Central Artery Project, known familiarly as the ‘Big Dig,’ hinged on provisions for environmental protection to qualify in part for some aspects of federal funding. When the road was placed underground (it was first called the Depressed Artery), a Greenway replaced cars with gardens, enhancing city aesthetics and oxygen. Environmental requirements and protections are increasingly part of public/private initiatives. Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, Law 071, passed by Bolivia, and presented at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference, defines earth as a collective subject of public interest with inherent rights. As the world prepares for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris, what influence might the pope’s encyclical Laudato Si have on environmental governance and guidance? In the United States, will the address to Congress on September 24, 2015 encourage progress?

For the complete text of Laudato Sihttp://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

For the complete text of Pope Francis’ address to the United States Congress on September 24, 2015:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/24/text-of-pope-francis-address-to-congress

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 8, 2015
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RXercise: Building Public Health

 

Parkland Walk, Islington, New River, England. Image: wikimedia.

“Take two walks and call me in the morning,” might be among future prescriptions. Pediatrician Dr. Robert Zarr has created a database of 350 parks and green spaces in Washington, DC, integrating data into Unity Health Care’s system; doctors can enter a patient’s zip code and create an exercise plan. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the G7 in June 2015, called for three priorities: environment, infrastructure, and public health. When England built the 1613 New River, a public/private water system, walking paths were created. Visionary architect Benton MacKaye advocated the salutary effects of outdoor exercise, leading to the Appalachian Trail. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign promotes public heath. Boston’s Greenway replaced a highway with a park. How can green spaces be more effectively integrated into health care systems?

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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February 10, 2015
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Open Bar(code)

Could transport link to transporting poetry? Image: wikimedia commons.

Take Line 4, when riding the Beijing metro; then, scan a barcode to access Chinese literature and philosophy. China’s National Library, cooperating with Beijing’s municipal government, will change the ten-tome selection monthly. Of course, barcode can transport to music, dance, drama, and other cultural expressions. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Channel Tunnel recently added wifi; might there be a special channel within? Shinkansen will soon upgrade to new efficiency; what may Japan create? What opportunities are inherent in public transportation to make readers of riders?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-30830472

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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November 3, 2014
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Swan Boats on Comm Ave?

 

Boston’s Swan Boats. Image: wikimedia commons.

Rising sea levels may encourage coastal cities, like New York, Miami, or Boston, to consider letting the waters in — via the building of canals. Much of Boston’s land was reclaimed from the sea originally. Now, the Urban Land Institute, in a report on environmental change, suggests that everything old may be new again. What innovations might result if Boston were the new Amsterdam? Will Swan Boats soon sail on Commonwealth Avenue?

For more: http://boston.uli.org/news/uli-report-makes-waves/

Thanks: Joe LaRosa, Evan Litwin and Zoe Quinn for suggestions.

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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July 28, 2014
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Water and Leadership

University of Massachusetts Boston. Image courtesy of www.umb.edu.

Should coastal universities, cities, and communities take the lead regarding the future of water? A breakthrough almost achieved by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) might be realized. Archives of Senator Morris K. Udall reveal issues considered by the United States’ Interior Committee during the 1930s’: scientists and engineers envisioned a way to desalinate water at cost of one cent per kilowatt-hour; this prediction has yet to achieved, although Singapore/Siemens may soon succeed. Another consideration: power and environment. Yet another – urban portals. Massachusetts’ great universities might consult the plan by Richard Williams, completed in 1775, now at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, for Boston‘s leadership.

For Senator Udall’s archives: http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/collections/papers-morris-k-udall

For “A Plan of the city of Boston” by Richard Williams, 1775: Building the World, p. 824.

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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