Building the World

June 16, 2017
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A River Runs Through It

Rebuilding cities to let the water in may result in innovations, including rowing commuters. Image: Wikimedia.

Coastal cities combating sea rise often respond by building barriers. But the Dutch, experts on inundation since the earliest days, have a different idea: letting the water in. Rotterdam, once the world’s largest port, is a city 90% below sea level. The city’s solution to sea rise includes creation of the Eendragtspolder, with water sports featuring the World Rowing Championships. Giving water more places to flow has rebuilt the Netherlands: a systems approach includes new views of space, rebuilding gates and bridges, redesigning sewers, linking social media, and incorporating climate response in primary education (children learn to swim wearing clothing and shoes). After Hurricane Sandy, the Dutch helped New York rethink lower Manhattan; Bangladesh benefited from advice that reduced fatalities during floods. It’s about anticipating, rather than avoiding, crises. To be sure, flood gates have their place, proven by Maeslantkering, a storm barrier bigger than two Eiffel Towers. But the Dutch are more about going with the flow: rebuilding land on water means dikes with shopping malls, even floating dairy farms. China’s Grand Canal might provide inspiration on the benefits of letting water shape strategy. Boston to Bangladesh, Rhode Island to Rotterdam, coastal areas might find innovation and opportunity in going Dutch.

Kimmelman, Michael. “Climate Change Isn’t Just a Fact for the Dutch. It’s an Opportunity” in the Changing Climate, Changing Cities series. 15 June 2017, The New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/15/world/europe/climate-change-rotterdam.html?_r=0

Peirce, Neal R., Curtis W. Johnson, with Farley M. Peters. Century of the City: No Time to Lose. The Rockefeller Foundation, 2008. ISBN: 0891840729.

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 2, 2017
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We’ll always have Paris

“Embrasement de la Tour Eiffel pendant l’Exposition universelle de 1889,” by Georges Garen, 1889. Image: wikimedia commons.

June 1, 2017: two announcements; the second, by a group of states, cities, businesses, and universities, pledging renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement, in which 195 countries joined a promise to the earth. The Eiffel Tower blazed the message. Michael Bloomberg, coordinating the collective endeavor, presented the June 1 statement to the United Nations requesting this new commitment be represented in the Accord; Christiana Figures, chief architect of the Paris Agreement, commented there was not yet such a formal mechanism, but the group’s submission could be included in future reports compiled by the United Nations. “Make our planet great again,” stated Emmanuel Macron, president of France, in an invitation to work together; an EU-China Business Summit declared renewed pledges. Gustave Eiffel, from whom the tower gets its name, invited scientists, businesses, educators, and municipal leaders, to gather in the structure for purposes of innovation: the first European public radio broadcast issued from the Eiffel Tower. What innovations will come from collective endeavors now launched to build a better world?

Christiana Figueres: https://www.umb.edu/ssl

Paris Agreement: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php

“As Trump Exits Paris Agreement, Other Nations Are Defiant.” Somini Sengupta, Melissa Eddy, Chris Buckley, Alissa J. Rubin.” 1 June 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/world/europe/climate-paris-agreement-trump-china.html?_rr=0

“Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord.” Hiroko Tabucchi and Henry Fountain. 1 June 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/american-cities-climate-standards.html

“Make our planet great again.” Emmanuel Macron. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03NMa4X0dyQ

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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November 10, 2016
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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.

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October 21, 2016
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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.

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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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December 14, 2015
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Building a Better World: Climate

Eiffel Tower as signpost during United Nations Climate Conference in Paris. Image appreciation and credit: nrdc.org

World-inclusive agreements, such as the International Meridian Conference, or the UN Paris Climate Accord, are historic. In such accords, the world agrees upon its future. Recently, the world came together to pledge improve to earth’s climate. Throughout the Paris negotiations, the Eiffel Tower served as signpost. While some might complain the Paris agreement could have been more demanding, and some nations advocated 1.5 as a goal, many hope that COP 21 will spur actions to build a better world. What other kinds of world-inclusive agreements are needed? And, in the light of Paris, what can you do to improve climate? Here is a link to Framework Convention on Climate 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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November 13, 2015
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Up on a Roof

Will COP 21 mandate green and solar roofs worldwide? Image: Vincent Van Gogh, “View of Roofs and Backs of Houses,” 1886, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and wikimedia commons.

When Vincent Van Gogh visited Paris, the artist was inspired to paint views glimpsed from his room in Montmartre. In the city famous for the Eiffel Tower, aerial views will take on new significance. France has legislated all new construction in commercial zones must have green or solar roofs. Canada inaugurated a similar environmental policy in Toronto; fines for non-compliance can reach $100,000. Brasilia is the first city designed to be viewed from the air; perhaps green or solar roofs will soon color the picture. Green roofs are not a new idea; in fact, the expression ‘raining cats and dogs’ may refer to denizens of thatched cottage roofs tumbling from habitual nests during a storm. Will the United Nations Climate Conference COP 21 recommend green and solar roofs worldwide?

France: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/20/france-decrees-new-rooftops-must-be-covered-in-plants-or-solar-panels

Toronto’s legislation: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_492.pdf

UN Climate Conference COP 21: http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en

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, 2015
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Go Blue

Eiffel Tower, one of 200 iconic monuments and buildings illumined in blue to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Image: wikimedia commons.

October 24, 2015: 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed: “By turning the world UN Blue for a day, we can light the way to a better tomorrow.” More than 200 famed structures joined the blue light celebration, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris where the UN Climate Conference will meet to build a better world. How might iconic buildings spark public awareness of world issues?

For original charter of the United Nations: https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/ctc/uncharter.pdf

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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September 14, 2015
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Failure to Success: Roskilde

Architect Erick van Egeraat has designed a waste-to-energy plant to echo the iconic 13th century cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark. Image: wikimedia commons.

Europe’s inspirational great cathedrals, or Asia’s impressive Buddhist stupas, might be considered among the first skyscrapers. Like France’s Eiffel Tower, or India’s Taj Mahal, a new edifice in Denmark will define the landscape. Giving new meaning to spiritual fire by echoing the shape of the famous Roskilde Cathedral, Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat has designed a power plant transforming residential and industrial waste into electricity. Similar achievements may emerge from a new Harvard degree program combining engineering and design. Can art and architecture improve public acceptance of using waste to power the future, turning failure into success?

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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August 25, 2015
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Going Up?

Going up? Canada’s Toth wins patent for Space Elevator. Image: wikimedia.

Canada may win the space race, or at least leap ahead, as a professor at York University in Ontario wins U.S. and U.K. patent and building rights for the space elevator. Dr. Brendan Quine, chief technology officer, and Rhodes scholar Dr. Caroline Roberts, CEO for Thoth Technologies, will bring to fulfillment an idea first suggested in 1895 by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. When space exploration began with Sputnik and the Apollo lunar landing, rockets proved an effective means for reaching orbit. But booster rockets are environmentally expensive, and financially wasteful when used as disposable launch vehicles (propellents account for only 0.4% of a rocket’s cost). The space elevator is reusable, and could be matched with reusable technologies in development by SpaceX. Passengers may be invited for the trip. Going up?

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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