Building the World

March 8, 2019
by buildingtheworld
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Cities: Green Jewel in Hong Kong

Sandpiper. Image: wikimedia.

Bird watchers in Hong Kong? Nature lovers in Shenzhen? In between these two megacities with a combined population of 20 million, rare birds fly and feed in one of the world’s most precious wetlands. Egrets, herons, sandpipers abound on the mudflats. Will the wetlands, about 4,000 acres, continue to be the green jewel of Hong Kong? Mai Po Nature Reserve is protected by the Ramsar Convention. But Nam Sang Wai, about 400 acre parcel, recently debated a proposal for 10% of the area to build apartments for 6,500 people. Henderson Land Development pledged to model the project on the London Wetland Centre where financing included provisions to preserve the natural habitat. Another precedent? The New River, bringing fresh water to London while preserving a natural walking path, albeit not residential but just recreational. Meanwhile, if you visit Hong Kong or Shenzhen, consider the sampan ride across the Shan Pui River; it’s the only human-powered ferry in Hong Kong.

Ramsar Konvention on Wetlands of International Importance. https://www.ramsar.org.

Ramzy, Austin. “A Rural Patch of Hong Kong Where Rare Birds Sing and Developers Circle.” 17 November 2018. The New York Times. https://nytimes.com/2018/11/17/world/asia/hong-kong-wetlands-mai-po-nam-sang-wai.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 Licen

December 29, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Groundwater Loss/Sea Rise

Depleting groundwater increases sea rise. How should we balance water resources to achieve sustainability? Image: Perhelion, wikimedia commons.

Depletion of underground aquifers accelerates global sea rise. According to a study published in Nature by a team of researchers including Yoshihido Wada of NASA Goddard Institute at Columbia University and Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University, groundwater use is rapidly increasing, with the consequence of contribution to 20% of sea rise. Aquifers and aqueducts helped support Rome; England’s New River fostered London’s growth while improving public health via walking paths. With aquifers being tapped for everything from drinking water, agriculture, industry, and hydraulic fracturing, groundwater is a stressed resource. Especially important are shared water resources: how should transnational aquifers, such as those shared by México and the United States, be sustained? What should be added to laws and policy regarding world water?

Special appreciation to Cherie E. Potts for reference and suggestion.

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

February 17, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Droughts, Floods, and Climate

Water: image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Water problems plague California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas in the United States; recent monitoring systems reveal that 91.6 percent of California, in 2014, suffers from drought. Meanwhile, in England, floods ravage land adjoining rivers swollen with unrelenting rains. Political leaders have responded: U.S. Congress passed a $965 billion farm bill that will aid agricultural interests; while in the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron pledged 10 million pounds for the Business Support Scheme. In England, water management has a proud tradition, notably the 1613 New River. An early example of a public utility launched through mixed public/private finance, the 80 million liter water resource (today, it’s more than double that amount) allowed London to respond to urban growth. California is considering improvements in desalination, to access the abundant seawater that could ease future droughts. In search of an ever-normal water supply, might the U.S. and U.K., as well as other areas of the globe suffering water problems, find inspiration in the development of one of the world’s first public utilities?

Desalination http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/parched-california-pours-mega-millions-desalination-tech-n28066

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.

February 12, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Charles Ives’ “The New River”

London traffic, from The Guardian, at guardian.co.uk.

The American composer’s “The New River” is a song that in title might sound as if it were about England’s human-made waterway, but instead Ives talks about a different kind of river, one of noise. The song for voice and piano has these lyrics:

“Down the river comes a noise!

It is not the voice of rolling waters.

It’s only the sound of man,

phonographs and gasoline,

dancing halls and tambourine;

Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.

The River Gods are gone.

Fortunately, the New River in England continues to preserve its bucolic nature through walking paths designed to help the public admire the English countryside not too far from London. In fact, some would say that without the beauty of the walking paths and their healthy lifestyle, Britain could have been less attractive due to the river of noise. Consider London Monday morning traffic reports.

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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.

August 7, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London 2012: Lee River

Canoe Slalom at Lee Valley White Water Center, from london2012.com.

The River Lee (or Lea) historically has played an important role in London’s success, as a source for the New River. More recently, the River Lee is playing host to the Olympic canoe slalom at the Lee Valley White Water Center. For more on the venue and the sport, please see:
http://www.london2012.com/venue/lee-valley-white-water-centre/

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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.

April 24, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Roman Baths

Entrance to baths, from romanbaths.co.uk.

Rome was a city whose culture revolved around water, and was enabled by the aqueducts leading to the city. This love of water went beyond the heart of the empire, however, to the outer reaches of the Caesar’s rule. England was one of the farthest outposts of the Roman Empire, but the culture of Rome made quite a mark on the land just the same. A visitor to England today is likely to take a trip to the city of Bath, named after, well, the baths located there. The baths at Bath were built around Britain’s only hot springs and were a social hot spot in the Roman period. Today the ruins stand fairly well-kept, and if you dare you may have a drink of the spring’s water, which supposedly has healing properties. To learn more please visit the official website of the baths at http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/default.aspx

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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.

March 27, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Let’s Take a Walk

“The River Lea at Ware” from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, at hertsmemories.org.uk.

Walking along riverbanks is a beloved English pastime, and in a country with so many rivers compared to its size, why shouldn’t it be? While it may not be a true (or new) river, the New River attracts its fair share of strollers as well. The Ramblers, a group dedicated to creating and/or maintaining walking routes in Britain, have created a path along the New River, as well as many of its source rivers, like the River Lea shown above.

Other sites worth visiting if you’re an avid walker include:The Long Distance Walkers Association, The UK Rivers Network, The Walking Englishman, and many, many more!

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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.

March 20, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London Bridge is Falling Down!

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Most children have played the game “London Bridge is Falling Down” while singing the accompanying song. Even today the game is performed on popular children’s shows, such as “The Wiggles.” It is a testament to the longevity of a poem about a bridge that had anything but.

The poem refers to the the number and types of bridges built in that location that led to Henry II’s decision to make one of stone to withstand fire, floods, and invaders. The poem suggests that even if made of steel, the bridge will always require replacement. The most recent London Bridge was finished in 1972 and still stands today. It has a long time to go, however, as the bridge that began construction under Henry II lasted over 600 years!

For more information on the nursery rhyme please visit http://www.rhymes.org.uk/london-bridge-is-falling-down.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.

February 29, 2012
by zoequinn001
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A Trip Across the Bridge

While today’s London Bridge may be a bit more sturdy than some of its predecessors, there is still reason to write about it. Write music that is. From children’s poems to chamber music, this bridge continues to influence the arts. Below you can listen to a piece written in 1926 by England’s own Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) titled, “Six Studies in English Folk Song.” The part most relevant to this discussion is the sixth movement is called, “As I walk over London Bridge,” and can be heard if you skip to 7:10.

This piece exemplifies how the histories of macro-engineering projects go beyond legal and financial implications to culture.

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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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