Building the World

October 6, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Report Card: Warning on Warming

“Simulating Carbon,” by William Putnam, 18 November 2014, NASA Visualization Explorer. Image: nasa.gov.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a warning: if the world keeps going at present rate, we’ll miss the target agreed upon in Paris 2015 (COP21) for limiting global warming. The goal of 1.5 may be out of reach; 2.0 Celsius may be unlikely.

Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0 Centigrade of global warming, above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8 to 1.2. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

Global warming in 2015; things now are even worse, warns IPCC. Image: wikimedia commons.

Consequences include extreme weather events, damage to warm water corals, mangroves, arctic, coastal flooding, fluvial flooding, terrestrial ecosystem, crop yields. (Reasons for Concern RFCs). The IPCC advocates climate-resilient development pathways (CRDPs) that “strengthen sustainable development at multiple scales and efforts to eradicate poverty through equitable societal system transitions and transformations while reducing the threat of climate change through ambitious mitigation, adaptation, and climate resilience.” (IPCC SR1.5)

IPCC, Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Centigrade (SR15), 6 October 2018. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15

IPCC, “Global Warming of 1.5Centigrade: Summary for Policymakers.” http://report.ipcc/ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

September 28, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Coastal Cities, Flooding, and Climate Change

Flooding in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photographer: Gul Cratt, 2006. Image: wikimedia.

Many of the world’s great cities were built as ports, welcoming ships, trade, and opportunity. Singapore is an example. So is New York. Coastal cities must contend with typhoons, hurricanes, rains, and flooding. With climate change, so-called “thousand-year floods” are happening more frequently than such a name might indicate. During Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy, New York saw Wall Street underwater. Another problem? Sea-rise. Here are some of the cities that may suffer inundation: Shanghai, Osaka, Alexandria, Miami,  Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam. Dhaka (19 million) is especially threatened, with danger beyond the capital city: Bangladesh may see 17% of land underwater and 18 million people displaced. Jakarta (10 million) is the fastest-sinking city in the world with 13 rivers merging into Indonesia’s Java Sea on which the coastal capital is located.

Copenhagen rebuilt for climate change . Image: wikimedia

How can coastal cities defend themselves against rising seas and flooding from storms? One approach is rethinking city surfaces from hard asphalt to spongy grass. Copenhagen decided to redesign the city after receiving six inches of rain in two hours during a 2011 storm. Over 300 projects from large parks and greenways, to tiny garden plots with bioswales to absorb rainwater, began the transformation. New York followed suit, forming a partnership with Copenhagen to exchange ideas and measure results. Copenhagen and New York may be cities of different size, but the problems of sea-rise and flooding threaten all coastal cities (and, of course, island states and nations).

But it’s not just physical infrastructure that makes a city resilient. It’s also another kind of infrastructure: governance. The Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) in a 2018 report “Governance for a Changing Climate: Adapting Boston’s Built Environment for Increased Flooding” recommended a joint state-municipal commission to deal with increasing climate impact. Governance suggested: 1) reform existing tools including acts and laws; 2) coordinate water/sewer, transport, energy, and telecommunications to a common standards; 3) combine scientists and government agencies in a climate advisory team; 4) establish governance and district-scale flood protection. University of Massachusetts Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab‘s previous reports on Boston included financing solutions to climate change, and a feasibility study of harbor barriers.

Governance for a Changing Climate: Adapting Boston’s Built Environment for Increased Flooding. Sustainable Solutions Lab. Image: Boston’s Zakim Bridge.

Coastal cities might look to Boston’s approach as one model that cities can enact. Cities have a unique capability to address climate change.

According to Michael Bloomberg, three-time mayor of New York, cities can respond faster to climate change because they can pass laws quickly, decide upon structural change, fund urban design initiatives, and coordinate governance. The Global Covenant of Mayors, representing 9,149 cites housing 780,804,596 people worldwide, signed a Climate & Energy agreement to bring cities together to respond to climate change. Bloomberg and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Ṧefcovič co-chair the board; Christiana Figures, architect of the Paris Agreement and founder of Global Optimism, serves as vice-chair. The mission combines initiatives with inclusion to achieve a just, low-emission, resilient future. Cities may be the first responders to climate change.

Barron, James. “New York’s Next Nickname: The Big Sponge?” 27 September 2018. The New York Times.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/nyregion/new-york-flooding.html

Glennon, Robert. “The Unfolding Tragedy of Climate Change in Bangladesh.” 21 April 2017. Scientific American. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-unfolding-tragedy-of-climate-change-in-bangladesh/.

Global Covenant of Mayors. https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org

Holder, Josh, Niko Kommenda, Jonathan Watts, “The three-degree world: the cities that will be drowned by global warming.” 3 November 2017. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2017/nov/03/three-degree-world-cities-drowned-global-warming/.

Kruel, Stephanie, VHB; Rebecca Herst, Sustainable Solutions Lab; David Cash, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Sustainable Solutions Lab, University of Massachusetts Boston, “Governance for a Changing Climate: Adopting Boston’s Built Environment for Increased Flooding.” https://www.umb.edu/editor_uploads/images/centers_institutes/sustainable_solutions_lab/Governance-for-a-Changing-Climate-Full-Report-UMB-SSL.pdf

Lin, Mayuri Mei, and Raki Hidayat. “Jakarta, the fastest-sinking city in the world.” 13 August 2018, BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44636934/.

University of Massachusetts Boston, “Governance for a Changing Climate” 28 September 2018. https://www.umb.edu/news/detail/umass_boston_report_laws_revamp_for_good_governance_in_climate_change_era.

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

September 21, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Space: Hayabusa touchdown on Ryugu

Ryu Hayabusa, video game ninjutsu martial artist, now also conquering the sky? Image: Hideo Yoshizama, wikimedia.

It may take a ninjutsu martial artist to fight and float at the same time. Gravity is light on asteroid Ryugu. So, if visiting rovers tried to roll along the surface, as Curiosity did on Mars, the momentum would send them quickly aloft. Solution? Hops. Touchdowns will allow two 7 inch rovers to collect data before elevating into another hop. The Minerva Rovers descend from Hayabusa2, Japan’s spacecraft that embarked upon the mission on 3 December 2014 from Tanegashima Space Center. It took two tries: but Hayabusa2 scored a touchdown today.

While NASA may have been the first to touch down spacecraft, and human footprints, upon the lunar surface, in the Apollo mission, much space exploration has followed, including the promising field of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, thought to contain valuable minerals worth quadrillions. Japan’s Hyabusa1 was the first spacecraft to achieve a roundtrip to an asteroid, bring a bit of asteroid dust from Itokawa to earth in a sealed capsule in 2010. Meanwhile, NASA is still in the running. Osiris-Rex will arrive at asteroid Bennu on New Year’s Eve 2018. Purpose? Information on the origins of the solar system, perhaps even the building blocks of life.

Corum, Jonathan. “Hayabusa2 Prepares to Drop Rovers on Asteroid Ryugu.” 19 September 2018. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/25/science/hayabusa-ryugu-photos.html.

Desjardins, Jeff. “There’s big money to be made in asteroid mining.” 5 November 2016. Business Insider.https://www.businessinsider.com/the-value-of-asteroid-mining-2016-11.

JAXA. For a view of the landing, see: http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleries/onc/nav20180920/

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

September 13, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Food for Thought about Climate

Food from plant sources may be healthy for you, and for the planet. Image: wikimedia

Even if you’re not in California for the Global Climate Action Summit, you might participate in affiliate events around the globe including “Food and Climate Strategy Session: Building Solidarity with Demand-side Solutions” in Brooklyn, NY on September 13. With Brighter Green, Loyola Marymount University, Mediterranean City Climate Change Consortium (MC-4), ProVeg International, Friends of the Earth, and members of the Food and Climate Alliance. Another example of urban food and climate innovations: City Farm Fish in the creative shadow of the  Brooklyn Bridge.

David H. Marks and Edward Spang are among those who find the Energy – Food – Water nexus may determine the future of global climate. It takes energy and water to grow the world’s food: some aliments require more allotments. Sir Paul McCartney is among the artists who raise voices and awareness in support of sustainable food.

Do you know the water, energy, and environmental aspects of your favorite foods?

Global Climate Action Summit: https://www.globalclimateactionsummit.org/about-the-summit/

Spang, E S, W R Moomaw, K S Gallagher, P H Kirshen, D H Marks. “Multiple metrics for quantifying the intensity of water consumption of energy production.” Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (2014. 105003. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/105003/pdf

Webber, Michael E. “More efficient foods, less waste.” 29 December 2011. Scientific Americanhttps://www.scientificamerican.com/article/webber-more-efficient-foods-less-waste/

Why is an Orange Like a Light Bulb? Building the World Bloghttp://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2017/04/14/why-is-an-orange-like-a-light-bulb/

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

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

August 27, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Art of Change

Times Square, New York City. Image: wikimedia

Climate change can be difficult to picture. That may be why, in part, politicians and citizens alike find it hard to grasp, and even more challenging to take action. But what if Mel Chin‘s “Unmoored” caught your eye? Displayed in Times Square, New York City, the artist’s work addresses the prediction that by the year 2100, six feet of water may slosh the great white way. Urban denizens, and tourists, can download the app, pointing a phone camera at various structures to see which ones will be afloat, and where boats may replace taxis and other vehicles. Will lessons from the Netherlands be part of the solution?

Will Miami soon be underwater? Image: wikimedia

Or maybe you prefer winters in Florida. This December, Xavier Cortada‘s “Underwater HOA” campaign invites residents of Pinecrest to place signs on their lawns showing how many feet of water will need to rise before inundating their property. Watercolor paintings that serve as background on the signs will be made with the very melted glacier water that the campaign hopes to stop. The installation opens in December. One month later, January 9, 2019, the signs will come down but the work will start: a citizens’ organization will meet at Cortada’s house to address climate change in the area of Miami. Can the invisible be made visible? What is the art of change?

For more: “12 Artists On Climate Change: A dozen artistic responses to one of the greatest threats of our time.” By Zoë Lescaze. 22 August 2018.  T AGITPROP The New York 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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

August 10, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Powering the Future

“Brain Power.” How will we power the future? Image credit: aboutmodafinil.com, Allan Ajifo, 2005. Credit: wikimedia.

California may build a regional power grid, but environmentalists worry the very existence of a cleaner system might encourage partner Wyoming to continue to rely on coal. Moving from 38 separate grid management companies to one could streamline the regional power system. What are the precedents for effective consolidation and management of disparate, separate, divergent power systems? Would privatization be a strategic option?

United Kingdom, Image: wikimedia.

A possible precedent study might be PowerGen, one of three companies formed by the British government from the former CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board). The three were: Nuclear Electric, comprised of all the nuclear stations in t \he UK; National Power, 70% fossil fuel; and PowerGen whose mission was to generate electricity in a free market. In addition to the three new entities, the government spun out twelve electricity distribution companies, led together through National Grid, owned by the twelve. While power resources grew, human resources reduced: the organization went from 1,800 to 400. Two years later, PowerGen and National Power privatized. As nations and regions develop their future energy strategies, will PowerGen’s experience suggest approaches? Another option for a regional strategy of power generation and revenue sharing might be the experience of Brazil and Paraguay with Itaipú. What forms of energy – coal, hydro, nuclear, renewables like wind and solar – will power the future? Should energy be public or private, or both? Where will future leaders emerge? Appointed chief executive just before the transformation of PowerGen, later Ed Wallis became chair of the Natural Environment Research Council.  A life motto: Every private should have a field marshal’s baton in knapsack, just in case. How might the UK further develop an effective energy strategy in light of Brexit? Are there lessons – in PowerGen or Itaipú – for the United States? What can California, and the western region, do to generate, distribute,  preserve, renew, and share energy? How do you think we should power the future?

Green, E.J. “On the emergence of parliamentary government: the role of private information.” Federal Reserve of Minneapolis Quarterly Review 17 (1), 1993, pp. 2-16.

Gribben, Roland. “Ed Wallis: the power man turns himself green.” 9 July 2009. The Telegraphhttps://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/profiles/5779034/Ed-Wallis-the-power-man-turns-himself-green.html

Litwin, George H., John J. Bray, Kathleen Lusk Brooke. “The Privatization of PowerGen.” Mobilizing the Organization: Bringing Strategy to Life. ISBN: 0131488910. Prentice-Hall: 1996, pp. 95-105.

National Environment Research Council (NERC). https://nerc.ukri.org/search-results/?keywords=ed+wallis&siteid=nerc

Penn, Ivan. “California Wants to Reinvent the Power Grid – So What Could Go Wrong?” 20 July 2018. New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/business/energy-environment/california-energy-grid-jerry-brown-plan.html

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

August 3, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Last First Chance?

“Sadnecessary” studio album by Milky Chance. Image: wikimedia.

In 1979, we knew enough about climate change and how to stop it. We didn’t. Now, according to environmental scientists, two-degree warming (goal of the Paris climate agreement) is our best case scenario, albeit with dire consequences. Three-degree warming: goodbye to most coastal cities. Four-degrees? China, India, Bangladesh become deserts; Colorado River, a mere trickle, Polynesia, gone. Unfortunately, the proposal drafted in 1989 to freeze carbon emissions that would have held warming to 1.5 degrees never made it: delegates from 60 nations met in the Netherlands and came up empty. Fast-forward: last year’s hurricane season in the United States saw inundations when Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, leaving 60 inches of rain and $185 billion of rebuilding costs. And that’s just the United States: the cost of climate change worldwide is so enormous as to almost incalculable. We missed our first chance. But sustainable solutions may yet be possible. Better global communication could lead to understanding, commitment, and change. What can you do to protect and preserve the earth, in what may be the last first chance in history?

Rich, Nathaniel with photographs and videos by George Steinmetz. “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” 1 August 2018. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html.

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

July 27, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Red Sky At Night

“Lunar Eclipse 2018 07 27” Image: nasa.

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” goes the saying. This weekend’s red sky is also a watcher’s delight. Mars, the red planet, will be at its closest to Earth (a cosy proximity not achieved since 2003). Also visible in this weekend’s night sky, moving from strawberry moon to blood moon, the lunar body glows rosy during a rather prolonged eclipse.

Both celestials have reason to blush, with pride:

Mars: is the subject of scientific discovery rapidly unfolding. SpaceX is planning a landing and habitation. Transport innovations like reusable rockets make a station possible. Recent discovery of a lake on Mars may hold more than promise.

Moon: July 1969, NASA’s Apollo Lunar Landing and Return, witnessed by practically everyone on earth with a new device called a television (just invented a few years before), saw the first human step on a surface that was not Earth. Humanity collectively held its breath. Since then, the sky has been busy. New industries have been born, with many new technologies from rockets to satellites. COMSAT put the world in the sky, with satnav, gps, cellphones, internet. Currently, lunar explorations include NASA’s Lunar Quest Program: the multi-element array includes flight missions, instruments for lunar missions of opportunity, research

Seeing Red This Weekend: From July 27-31, Mars will be particularly visible to the naked eye: here’s the red moon recap of July 27. Mars and Moon glowing red – at the same time? Perhaps Mars and Chang’e are blushing.

Halton, Mary. “Liquid water ‘lake’ revealed on Mars.” 25 July 2018. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44952710/

NASA, “Watch: Total Lunar Eclipse (JULY 2018) NASA TV #Longest eclipse of this century.” https://youtu.be/uqBStEIVF80.

Space.com “Chang’e 4.” https://www.space.com/40715-change-4-mission.html

Yann Charront, Robert Moss, Stephen Edwards, and Dimitri N. Mavris. “Utilization of System Dynamics to Model a Self-Sustained Mars Surface Colony.” August 31-September 2, 2015. Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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

July 20, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Two paths diverge: road or rail?

“Night lapse of the 401” by Kennymatic, 2008. Image: wikimedia

Road ahead? Concrete decisions may determine the future of cities. Many urban centers are opting for surface transport: whether fuel-powered or electric, whether driven or driverless, whether bicycles or pedestrians, the future looks paved. Rome built its legendary roads with a special concrete strengthened by a mix-in of volcanic ash; in modern times, basaltic rock has shown to be effective carbon dioxide absorbent, turning the unwanted gas into stone so hard it’s being used to build roads, and towers. So settled on surface are some cities that even New York City, where the subway is in need of expensive repair, may consider just paving over the tunnels for underground vehicular lanes. It was in 1939, at the World’s Fair, that General Motors showcased the concept of “magic motorways” and in 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower, when returning from Germany where the general had glimpsed the Autobahn, opened U.S. Federal Highway System for bidding.

Buffalo Metro Rail Station, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, New York. Image: wikimedia commons

Rail, known to be the fastest and most environmentally efficient way to move people, and goods, may be better. Las Vegas is betting on light rail: the $750 million project will bring trains along a route named the Maryland Parkway; real estate development is planned to link, and the stops will include Sunrise medical area and UNLV. It can be noted that former UNLV president, Don Snyder, serves as chair of the community advisory group. Then there’s the Windy City, where a plan to run a Chicago HyperLoop to O’Hare Airport, inked by Mayor Ron Emanuel and HyperLoop Advocate Elon Musk, may zoom from midtown to out of town in just 12 minutes.

Transport systems are expensive, and need to be rebuilt when in disrepair. Many existing roads and bridges are crumbling in highway systems that need repair. Cities have the power to determine transport: linking public transit to affordable housing, or community educational and medical facilities, must be part of the plan. The United States may spend a considerable sum to rebuild American transport infrastructure; what is your vision?

Badger, Emily. “Pave Over the Subway? Cities Face Tough Bets on Driverless Cars.” 20 July 2018. The New York Times.

Marroquin, Art. “Light-rail line could spur development along Maryland Parkway.” 19 June 2018. Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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