Building the World

April 26, 2017
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Fountain of Hope

Water is the hope of the MOF-801. Here, the largest floating fountain in Europe, Multimedia Fountain Roshen, Ukraine. Image: wikimedia.

Two-thirds of the earth’s population may soon need more water, especially in arid regions. Australia, India, North Africa, and areas of the United States and Mexico, to name but a few, are rich in sun but poor in water. Using the sun to power a metal-organic framework (MOF) that acts like a sponge to soak up humidity, Omar Yaghi of the University of California Berkeley and Evelyn Wang of MIT, and team, have developed MOF-801 that could be carried in a suitcase, set up in a solar view, and immediately produce enough water for a family of four.

Hyunjo Kim, Sungwoo Yang, Sameer R. Rao, Shankar Narayanan, Eugene A. Kapustin, Hiroyasu Furukawa, Ari S. Umans, Omar M. Yaghi, Evelyn N. Wang. “Water harvesting from air with metal-organic frameworks powered by natural sunlight.” Science, 13 April 2017: eaam8743. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8743. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/04/12/science.aam8743/tab-figures-data/

Urieff, Kaya. “New solar-powered device makes water out of desert air.” 19 April 2017, CNN.com. http://cnnmon.ie/2pg50FR/

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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March 24, 2017
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Rivers are people, too

“Reflection of the Taj Mahal on the Yamuna River.” Image: wikimedia.

The first country in the world to give rights to a river was New Zealand: the Whanganui, the country’s longest, has received the environmental protection long sought by the Maori. Now, India has given human status and rights to two sacred rivers. The Ganges is protected, as is the river of the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan acquired the land near the Yamuna to use the river as a ‘keel’ to balance the massive iconic monument. How are the rights of a river represented? New Zealand’s river will be represented in legal matters by one of the Maori people and one representative of the crown government. India anticipates environmental rights will now be protected, having declared the Ganges and Yamuna are “legal and living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities.” Bolivia decreed the rights of Earth in Ley 071 de Derechos de la Madre Tierra.

For New Zealand’s Whanganui River’s legal status:  www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-zealand-river-just-got-legal-rights-person-180962579/ and To hear the Maori chant: “Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au.”: https://vimeo.com/76390994

For India’s Ganges and Yamuna Rivers and rights: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/court-gives-2-indian-rivers-same-rights-as-a-human/2017/03/21/fccb440

For Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, Law 071 of Bolivia: comunicacion.presidencia.gob.bo/docprensa/pdf/20121015-11/53-28.pdf.

For Pope Francis and environmental ethics: http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2015/07/09/environmental-wholiness/

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 7, 2016
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India and the Climate of Peace

Be the change you want to see: Gandhi. Image: wikimedia commons.

India has ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.  The land of the Taj Mahal has a sense of ceremony; the historic decision was taken on October 2, Gandhi’s birthday. Joining other carbon giants, China and United States who both ratified the agreement in September, India declared its intention to pursue “development without destruction.” India, accounting for 4.5 percent of carbon emissions becomes the 62nd nation to deliver a legal instrument of ratification. To date, enough countries have now joined and ratified that only 3 percent point more are needed to reach the 55 percent required; the 55-nation aspect has already been met and surpassed. It is predicted that the Climate Agreement will come into effect on 4 November 2016. Mahatma Gandhi’s message of humanism, environmentalism, and pacifism” is celebrated by the way and date of India’s ratification of the agreement to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. India set the goal of producing 40% of its electricity with non-fossil fuels by 2030. October 2 is also the International Day of Nonviolence.

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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March 2, 2016
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Let there be (f)light

“Icarus” by Blondel, Rotunda of Apollo, Louvre Museum. Image: wikimedia commons.

Icarus would be impressed. The Greek hero is famous for flying too close to the sun, but light and flight may now combine to improve the environment. Airports and runways are, by definition, open fields that prove ideal for solar power. Chochin, India is the site of the world’s first solar-powered airport. Welcoming 1,000 flights per day, the facility cost $9.5m to build, and benefits the environment as much as planting 3m trees. Prime Minister Narenda Modi announced a national goal of generating 100,000 megawatts by 2022; most parts of the land of the Taj Mahal receive 300 days of sunshine per year. The “Cochin” model is the first, but not the last: Africa has opened a solar-powered airport. Space solar power, pioneered by Peter Glaser, along with breakthrough technologies including nuclear fusion, may be on the agenda of energy change, advocated by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition announced in Paris at COP21 by Bill Gates. As NASA designs the new supersonic airplane to replace the Concorde, will new airfields be solar?

Menon, Supriya. “How is the world’s first solar powered airport faring?” 9 October 2015. BBC News. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-34421419

“George Airport in South Africa is Africa’s First and Only Regional Solar-Powered Airport.” 29 February 2016. HowAfrica.com. http://howafrica.com/a-first-for-africa-solar-powered-airport/

Breakthrough Energy Coalition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKIEXeS824o

Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston: https://www.umb.edu/news/detail/umass_boston_cop21_discuss_paris_at_sustainable_solutions_lab_event

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 11, 2015
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River from the Sky

Puja, ceremony of honoring the sacred, as seen in “Durga Puja” by Sevak Ram, 1809. Image: British Library Add.Or. 29

Jalwa Puja is a water ceremony, sacred to India, in which mothers welcome a new child with blessings at the village well. Baghwati Argrawal incorporated this and other customs, including naming reservoirs after community leaders, in the Rajastan project that collects and distributes rainwater. Argrawal calls the program, administered by Sustainable Innovations,  Aakash Ganga or River from the Sky. The system collects monsoon rains, channeling potential floods into treasured reservoirs. A rain collection system also irrigates gardens of the Taj Mahal. But what of areas where there is scarce percipitation? Will Graciela Schneier-Madanes and the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment, as presented at Fulbright Water Act 2015, guide the world’s dry regions? Can the University of Massachusetts Boston’s School for the Environment open a new vision? Most arid country on earth, Australia changed agriculture and irrigation while providing electricity via Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric. As UN Climate Change conference COP21 concludes, how can we sustain shared resources including water?

Kathleen Toner, CNN. “‘River from the Sky’ brings life-changing water.” 7 December 2015.

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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June 10, 2014
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Taj Mahal’s Beauty Treatment

Taj Mahal. Photo: wikimedia commons.

Monument to love and beauty, India’s Taj Mahal is getting a mud-pack: 2mm’s of thick clay, rich in lime, will be applied to the surface, and left overnight to dry; upon removal, a process involving gentle friction, stains or impurities will “exfoliate,” resulting in a brightening. India’s white marble icon has shown yellow stains recently, as nearby urban Agra generates increasing pollution, perhaps intensified by emissions from a nearby oil refinery. According to B M Bhatnagar of the Archeological Survey of India, the Taj Mahal’s treatment is derived from a facial mud-pack, developed by traditional local beauties perhaps descended from Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built in 1653.

For more about the Taj Mahal’s treatment: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-27753788

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 28, 2014
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Monuments, Memory, and Culture

Image courtesy of nih.gov.

Monument to love, built by 20,000 artisans using 43 different kinds of jewels, the Taj Mahal is Shah Jahan’s memorial to his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu Begam, also known as Mumtaz Mahal. The lovers met as teenagers and parted only when Mumtaz died on the battlefield (she traveled with him, no matter the circumstances) giving birth. Roman poet Horace wrote in his last ode, 3.30.1: Exegi monumentum aere perennius – “I have built a monument more lasting than bronze.” Poetry, music, libraries, laws, endowments, buildings, monuments, art – how should we honor, and remember? What is the role of memory in culture?

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 19, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Holy Rivers

Pilgrims in Allahabad wading into the Holy Waters of the Ganges, from PBS at pbs.org.

In India, as with many other nations and/or religions, water is considered valuable for more than its hydrating properties. In fact, three of India’s rivers are considered to be holy: the Yamuna, – which runs by the Taj Mahal – the Ganges, and the Saraswati. Every twelve years a 55-day celebration known as Kumbh Mela occurs where these three rivers meet in Allahabad. The most recent of these celebrations occurred February 2013. For more information on the festival and its participants, please visit: http://www.npr.org/2013/02/12/171735743/in-the-waters-of-indias-holy-rivers-seeking-a-glimpse-of-immortality?sc=17&f=1001

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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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May 22, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Islamic Art

Calligraphy on the exterior of the Taj Mahal

Islamic art is known for its intricacy and beauty. Ranking highest on the list of perfected Islamic art is the Taj Mahal. Not only does this astounding structure embody the physical nature of Islamic art – of symmetry and proportion – but it follows the rules of Islam as a religion as well. As Islam was (and is) a wide-spread religion, it had an impact on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. As a result, secular Islamic art can be found in many of the areas previously under Mughal rule. The Taj Mahal, however, is an example of the religious wing of Islamic art, and Muslim tradition can be seen throughout the structure. For example, the outside of the building is decorated with quotes from the Qur’an and the coffins of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are plain in contrast to the rest of the building (as Muslim law disallows ornate graves).

For more information on Islamic art, please visit: http://www.lacma.org/islamic_art/intro.htm

 

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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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