Building the World

April 28, 2020
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

ENERGY: Petersberg Climate Dialogue

Petersberg, near Bonn, Germany. Image: wikimedia.

High upon a virtual mountaintop, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue gathered 35 countries to steer the course for achieving Paris Agreement goals. Alok Sharma, UK Secretary of State for Business and Energy and President of COP26, and Svenja Schulze, Federal Environment Minister of Germany, co-chaired ‘International Climate Action after the Coronavirus Pandemic.” While there is good news, including the cost of solar energy now 85% lower than in 2010, it is not enough: 840 million people lack access to electricity. As world governments allocate funding to rebuild economies after Covid-19, there is an unprecedented opportunity forfinance to support a green economic recovery and foster ambitious climate action.” We have not acted fast enough to reach climate goals, in part due to funding. The world might now have A UNIQUE opportunity to rebuild. Petersberg Climate Dialogue is digital: participate here.

Petersberg Climate Dialogue Digital Conference. https://www.bmu.de/press/live-broadcast/

Petersberg Climate Dialogue Digital Conference. “Financing Climate Ambition in the context of COVID-19.” Video Conference, 29 April 2020. https://www.bmu.de/en/event/financing-climate-ambition-in-the-context-of-covid-19/

Sharma, Alok. “Reaching Climate Goals.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cop26-president-remarks-at-first-day-of-petersberg-climate-dialogue.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

March 17, 2020
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

CITIES: Rebuilding the city-state

Cities may lead the way to a healthier future. Image: “Eiffel tower at dawn,” by Nitot. Image: wikimedia.

In a crisis, cities and states can react faster than countries. Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle closed cinemas, gyms, bars and clubs; states like Massachusetts and California closed schools long before federal advisories. Closures to doors opened generous hearts: cafes near La Tour Eiffel gave away delicacies like foie gras and freshly baked bread, when Prime Minister Phillippe announced mandated a shutdown in Paris. Throughout history, city-states demonstrated a notably nimble organizational power: ancient Greek city-states like Cyrene, founded by climate migrants, created a new educational, scientific, and cultural center.  By 2050, 70% of the world’s people will live in cities. With the rise of megacities, with populations of 10 million plus, is it time for a new era of the city-state?

“Coronavirus: US cities put into lockdown.” 17 March 2020. Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-new-york-and-la-on-lockdown-as-world-as-world-reacts-to-spread-of-covid-19-11958145.

“France to close all restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and clubs due to coronavirus.” Barbara Wojazer. 14 March 2020. CNN/World. https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-14-20-intl-hnk/index.html.

Toynbee, Arnold, editor. Cities of Destiny. Thames & Hudson, 1967.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

January 13, 2020
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

CITIES: Trees

Boston’s Greenway. Image: Greenway Conservancy.

American cities lost 36 million trees in the last five years. Without trees, cities will get hotter and suffer more periods of air pollution. Why are we losing trees? Hurricanes and tornadoes tear them from the earth, fires burn them to the ground, insects and diseases weaken and kill trees. Those are some of the reasons we can’t easily control.

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain. Image: wikimedia.

But there is one factor we can influence: city development. Cities are on the rise, rapidly growing into megacities with populations of 10 million or more. The United States, with 80% of the US population living in urban areas, especially in forested coastal regions along the West and East coasts, has a unique opportunity to preserve and enhance urban forests. It’s well worth it. Trees bring environmental and economic benefits.

URBAN TREES:

Provide shade for homes, schools, office buildings, cooling surface temperatures;

Reduce pollution through absorbing carbon and filtering pollutants from the air;

Reduce energy costs by reducing air-conditioning use – economics of $4 billion per year;

Improve water quality by filtering rainwater, absorbing nitrogen and phosphorus in to the ground;

Protect against urban flooding, absorbing surface water;

Reduce noise pollution by absorbing urban sound;

Enhance city soundscape by adding birdsong, and the whisper of wind through leaves;

Protect against UV radiation, absorbing 96% of ultraviolet radiation;

Improve health, physical through cleaner air and shade to exercise outdoors, mental health of being in nature;

Increase tourism and real estate values.

The New River passes through Bowes Park. Image: wikimedia.

Case studies of successful historic urban forestation reveal strategies. In the year 1600, so many people crossed London Bridge to live in the burgeoning London town that water supply became strained. One of the world’s first artificial or built rivers combined two elements: drinking water and trees. Constructed from 1605 to 1639, the New River stretches over 20 miles from Hertfordshire to Islington, just uphill from London, terminating in a water reservoir ready as needed. All along the route, tree-lined walking paths add protection and shade. Today, the New River is run by Thames Water PLC, managing water supply, and maintaining the walking paths traversed by urban hikers including the Ramblers Association. It is interesting to note that Hugh Myddleton, who partnered with King James I to build the New River, was the regent’s former jeweler and may be related to a member of the present House of Windsor.

Boston had a similar idea with Olmstead’s “Emerald Necklace” with recent Rose Fitzgerald Greenway extension of the urban breathing ribbon of green. The Greenway replaced what was formerly the Central Artery that ran traffic anthrough town; the road was placed underneath in a tunnel and the surface became a park. For an even earlier urban greening, some would point to the City of the Eiffel Tower where Haussmann widened tree-lined boulevards to breathe air and design into Paris. Presently, the city of light requires new commercial construction to have either solar or living green roofs.

“Terrasse panoramique @ Le Printemps Haussmann @ Paris.” by Guilhem Vellut, 2017. Image: wikimedia commons.

By 2050, 70% of the world’s people will live in cities. As cities grow, rebuilding better water systems, developing flood prevention plans, redesigning roads to accommodate electric and autonomous vehicles, how can trees become part of the plan? Will the proposed Climate Conservation Corps (CCC) plant trees in cities? A pilot project at Roger Williams University, or an initiative by World War Zero, might lead the way. There may be considerations of legal import: should trees have standing?

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk and Zoe G. Quinn. “Should trees have standing?” Building the World Blog. University of Massachusetts Boston. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2019/03/01/should-trees-have-standing/

Chillag, Amy. “US cities are losing 36 million trees a year. Here’s why it matters and how you can stop it.” 18 September 2019. CNN.https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/health/iyw-cities-losing-36-million-trees-how-to-help-trnd/index.html

Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition. https://sufc.org/

New River, http://www.thames-water.com

Ramblers Walking Paths of the New River, http://www.ramblers. org.uk/info/paths/newriver.html.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

November 17, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Signs of the Times

Mont Blanc, highest peak of the Alps. Will the name change with the climate? Image: wikimedia.

Switzerland sent the world a postcard. A collage of 125,000 drawings by children across the world, assembled for aerial display on Switzerland’s Aletsch glacier, receding at 12 meters (13 yards) per year. Organized by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the campaign is part publicity stunt to establish a Guinness world record, and part educational campaign to engage the next generation in climate action. While individual children’s messages on the segments include pledges and pleas (Save the Future for Us), the aerial overview spells out the message “#1.5C” reminding the world of the Paris Agreement where 195 nations pledged to reduce emissions, holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“1 Heart 1 Tree” by Naziha Mestaoui. image on Eiffel Tower, 2015, by Yann Caradoc. Wikimedia commons.

France’s Eiffel Tower turned into a banner proclaiming the message to stop climate change in 2015. Artist Naziha Mestaoui designed “1 Heart 1 Tree” for people to add, via a mobile app, a virtual tree to a green installation on the Tower while actual trees were planted in Australia, Brazil, India, Kenya, Peru, and Senegal. Mestaoui was inspired by the “trees of peace” program in Kenya, designed by Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai.

Many cities around the world have iconic monuments: Sydney’s Opera House, New York’s Empire State Building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa are among the possible “billboards” that may invite us to look up into a better future.

Keaton, Jamey. “Kids’ postcards blanket Alpine glacier in eco-friendly stunt.” 16 November 2018. AP News. https://www.apnews.com/97e0023d66754fcc8e6b5832d463a10b.

Paris Agreement complete text: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreemet.pdf. 

Peltier, Elian. “Eiffel Tower Goes Green for Climate Talks.” 29 November 2015, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris-climate-talks/eiffel-tower-goes-green-for-climate-talks. 

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

October 27, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Bridging the Future

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, China. Take a test drive. Image: wikimedia.

World’s longest span, China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, stretches 34 miles  (55 km) across the Pearl River Delta. An artificial island supporting Zhuhai’s port joins the financial centers of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (Special Economic Zone), and manufacturing areas like Dongguan. The bridge cuts travel time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong, formerly taking 4 hours, to 40 minutes. One unique aspect revealing cultural history: traffic patterns change from left-lane driving (in once-British Hong Kong) to right-lane vehicular traffic (the rule of the road in China).

Brooklyn Bridge. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bridges have long encouraged economic activity. London Bridge was perhaps the first shopping mall: spaces along the span were leased to stores whose taxes paid for bridge maintenance. The Brooklyn Bridge cost $15 million to build. Tolls varied: it cost one penny to walk across but double that if you brought a horse or cow, and ten times more with a one-horse wagon. Fifteen years after the bridge joined Manhattan and Brooklyn, the latter’s population doubled and both economies grew rapidly.

China’s new bridge may promise economic development but also drew headlines for costs: $7 billion for the 14 mile main span; $13 billion for tunnels. The project used enough steel (400,000 tons) to build 60 Eiffel Towers. There were also costs in lives lost: 10 people perished during construction; another 500 were injured. There were costly delays (the project was two years late) and troubling scandals: 19 people were indicted on criminal charges for fake concrete. Another cost: the number of rare white dolphins (sometimes called China’s marine panda)  swimming in Hong Kong waters dropped by half, even though $68 million was devoted to their protection.

Rare white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) sometimes called China’s marine panda. Image: wikimedia commons.

How can the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge assure environmental stability? Will the University Alliance of the Silk Road and the Confucius Institute help to bring sustainable and inclusive values that are perhaps the most important bridges?

Confucius Institute. http://chinesecio.com

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Test Drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9VOhEH4te0

Ramsey, Austin. “China opens giant bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland,” 23 October 2018, The New York Times.

University Alliance of the Silk Road. http://uasr.xjtu.edu.cn/About_UASR/UASR_Introduction.htm

Zhou, Christina, and Bang Xiao. “China’s massive sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai slashes rare white dolphin population.” 25 October 2018. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-25/white-dolphin-numbers-drop-worlds-longest-sea-bridge-opens-china/10428038.

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

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

September 4, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Preserving World Heritage: Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel, World Heritage Site. Image: wikimedia

Abu Simbel, site of the great temple built by Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, in 13th century bce, crowned the Nubian valley bordering Egypt and Sudan. Nearby, the Nile River flows through Aswan to Cairo. It was just a few decades ago that engineers and archeologists saved Abu Simbel from a watery grave, somewhere at the bottom of Lake Nasser, reservoir formed by the 1960 construction of the High Dam at Aswan. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) rushed to save Abu Simbel: the temple was taken apart piece by piece, and moved to a site where it was reassembled like a giant Lego construction. February 22 (day Ramses took the throne) and 22 October (Ramses’ birthday) were highlighted by the alignment of the temple so that dawn’s light would illuminate Ramses’ statue, enshrined within. In September 1968, fifty years ago, the project stood completed as one of the premier World Heritage Sites. Success bred success: World Heritage sites followed including Cyrene, Angkor Wat, Lake Baikal, Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty.

Kiniry, Laura. “Egypt’s exquisite temples that had to be moved.” 10 April 2018. BBC. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180409-egypts-exquisite-temples-that-had-t0-be-moved.

UNESCO. World Heritage Centre. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/

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, PDF & Email

May 25, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

If Cars Could Fly: Innovation Cities

Popular Science, 2008. Image: wikimedia.

France invited the world’s innovators to “make our planet great again.” Now, the city that hosted the world Climate Agreement will welcome a new R&D center with a budget of $23 million and a goal of developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle – a flying car. Actually, a taxi. It’s an Uber endeavor, joining the company’s network of R&D hubs in Pittsburgh, PA and San Francisco, CA, USA, as well as Toronto, Canada. In France, the project will include an educational five-year research partnership with École Polytechnique. Charlemagne might approve: combining innovation with education was in part responsible for the earliest development of universities. Another model linking education with R&D: medieval craft guilds. Like Charlemagne’s hubs, Paris, home of the Eiffel Tower, looks upward. Name of the flying car program? Elevate.

Kottasová, Ivana. “Uber invests millions to build flying taxis in France.” 24 May, 2018. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/24/technology/uber-flying-taxi-france/index.html.

Macron, Emmanuel. “Make our planet great again.” 2 June 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03NMa4X0dyQ.

McFarland, Matt. “Uber unveils plans to demo flying cars by 2020.” 25 April 2017, CNN, http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/24/technology/uber-flying-car/index.html.

Uber. “Uber Elevate: The Future of Urban Air Transport.” https://www.uber.com/info/elevate/.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

May 18, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Volcanology and the Future

“Kilauea at Dusk,” photographed in 1983 by G.E. Ulrich, USGS. Image: wikimedia.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano has been erupting, dangerously. But it is always in some form of activity, as one of the world’s most active volcanos, and is therefore heavily instrumented. Volcanic prediction is feasible, according to Paul Segall, professor of geophysics at Stanford University; whereas earthquakes, caused by similar disturbances below Earth’s surface, are less predictable. Volcanos may become an important factor in mitigating climate change. Here’s why:

Iceland is the site of CarbFix, exploring the future of carbon capture. When CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, at a plant near Reykjavik’s Hellisheidi power station, it is pumped underground to combine with basalt. As a result, the combination becomes rock. In fact, the ancient Romans used volcanic ash to form a particular building material. Basalt contains calcium, magnesium, and iron – elements that bind easily with CO2; basalt is like a sponge for CO2. Could this be answer to Earth’s carbon crisis? Maybe – basalt is the most common rock type on the planet; it’s even found on the ocean floors. India, Saudi Arabia, and Siberia are particularly well-endowed. Problem? CarbFix is water-intensive, not ideal for the already thirsty water planet. It takes 25 tons of water to transform one ton of CO2. Humans cause the emission of 35 gigatons of CO2 (a gigaton is a billion tons) per year. But the potential encourages research by CarbFix partners including Columbia University in New York, National Center for Scientific Research in France, and Reykjavik Energy in Iceland. Theoretically, the amount of world basalt could store all the CO2 emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, since Prometheus.

Kilauea is a basaltic shield volcano, producing an eruptive form of basalt called Tholeiite, according to Ken Rubin, professor of geology and geophysics, University of Hawaii.  It’s the dominant basalt type on Earth. In the future, we may learn to work with volcanic basalt to combat CO2 emissions and build a better climate. Meanwhile, if you would like to give support to those in need, due to Kilauea’s recent eruption, here are some ways to help.

For more:

Ancheta, Dillon. “Here’s how to help those affected by the Big Island eruptions.” 5 May, updated 22 May, 2018. Hawaii News Now. http://www.hawaiinewsnowcom/story/38119223/heres-how-you-can-donate-to-those-impacted-by-the-kilauea-eruption/.

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk. “Philosopher’s Stone?” 17 June 2018, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2016/06/17/philosophers-stone/

CarbFix. https://www.or.is/carbfix

Perasso, Valeria. “Turning carbon dioxide into rock – forever.” 18 May 2018. BBC News. www.bbc.com/news/world-43789527/.

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, PDF & Email

April 6, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Haute Cuisine

Will city skyscrapers grow food, for a new twist on haute cuisine – high cooking? Here, Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. Image: wikimedia.

By 2050, 75% of us will live in cities, likely in high rise towers. Gustav Eiffel’s innovation of building up, supported by the force of curves and wind, demonstrated to the world that the future was in the sky. The Eiffel Tower of Paris is progenitor of today’s skyscrapers. In the United States, Chicago is said by some architects to have invented the skyscraper as a response to the city’s sudden population growth. When it opened in 1885, the Home Insurance Building reached 138 feet (42-meters) skyward, using steel in its structure: it was the first tall building to do so. 1892 saw the erection of the Monadnock Building, largest commercial edifice in the world, at the time. Fast-forward, and upward, Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen, China reached a milestone: 1,955 feet (599 meters). By 2025, Asia will be home to more than 30 megacities: Tokyo, Shangai, Jakarta, Delhi, Seoul, Guangzhou, Beijing, Manila, Mumbai, Shenzhen top the list. According to Jorgen Randers, 2052, “The future will be urban, dense, and crowded.”

PingAn IFC, Shenzhen, China. Photographer: Posasihumvioa. Image: wikimedia.

Where will all those people live, and what will they eat? Some designers envision towers alive with bloom, absorbing rain, shielding sun, providing insulation, cleaning air, and perhaps even growing food. Examples include residential towers: Bosco Verticale, in Milan, Italy. In 2015, France’s capital passed a law mandating all new roofs be solar or green. Now, a further development: all Parisians may grow food on their premises. By 2020, the city known for haute cuisine may give another meaning to that adjective: more than 100 hectares (about 40% of a mile) of rooftops gardens and planted walls will grace the city, yielding 425 tons of vegetable, 24 tons of mushrooms. Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced a pan-Parisian “license to vegetate.” Metro operator RATP hosts a commercial garden; the French Post Office farms its roof, and even breeds chickens amid the aubergines.

Jacob, Sam. “Sky-rise living: Palace or prison? 11 January 2018. CNN Style. https://www.cnn.com/style/article/skyrise-living-sam-jacob/index.html.

Randers, Jorgen. 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (2012) and The Limits to Growth (1972). http://www.2052.info/

Ye, Sonia and Cloture Achi, Sybille de La Hamaide, Louise Heavens. “Post office workers grow vegetables, breed chickens on Paris rooftop ‘farm.'” 26 September 2017. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france/agriculture-urban-roofstop/post-office-workers-grow-vegetables-breed-chickens-on-paris-rooftop-farm-idUSKCN1C11UX. 

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, PDF & Email

March 24, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Earth Hour

Sky Tower goes dark (red lights remaining for aircraft) in recognition of Earth Hour. Image: Kaihsu Tai, wikimedia

Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, joined other iconic structures in observation of Earth Hour on 24 March 2018. Usually illuminated, the monuments went dark for 60 minutes to raise awareness of preserving the earth’s environment. What did you do to honor your hour of darkness?

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, PDF & Email
Skip to toolbar