Building the World

October 28, 2016
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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.

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August 25, 2016
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Happy 100th, National Parks

 

Jason Lusk, photographer. "Crater Lake National Park, Wizard Island."

“Crater Lake National Park, Wizard Island.” Jason W. Lusk, Photographer, with permission and appreciation.

Happy 100th birthday to the United States National Park Service. Celebrations included illuminating the New York City skyline, inviting the public to gather at Brooklyn Bridge Park to change the color of One World Trade Center’s Spire as an iconic birthday candle. The 1916 Organic Act authorized the preservation of green space; the Second Century Commission recommended future approaches. One of the earliest green spaces created for public enjoyment might be the walking path of the New River of England, 1613; still in use, the route is recommended by the Ramblers Association. Boston’s Central Artery Project created a greenway through the heart of the city. Costa Rica, world leader in environmental protection, set precedent with Law 7788 on Biodiversity. Perhaps Benton MacKaye launched the Appalachian Trail, authorized after the architect’s essay in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects described the salutary effects of nature as “one of the admitted needs of modern times.”

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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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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October 27, 2014
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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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October 9, 2013
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A River (of Green) Runs Through It: Boston’s Central Artery

Boston’s Greenway. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Greenways, like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, jewel of the Central Artery in Boston, Massachusetts, offer economic, artistic and public health benefits. An urban equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, such stretches of nature bring fresh air into dense cities including Dalian China, planned to emulate Haussmann’s Paris and the Washington, D.C. of L’Enfant and Banneker. But greenways may provide another aspect of public health: disaster response routes. City centers are prone to blockage; greenways could serve as pathways to safety, and as a means of reaching critical areas. Meanwhile, these ribbons of green keep city dwellers healthy. Sunday bicyclists traversing the Paseo de Reforma, in Mexico City, could use the same route if an earthquake strikes. Might the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (www.umb.edu/crscad/) lead the way for an expansion of urban greenways in the world’s cities vulnerable to earthquakes?

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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