Building the World

May 20, 2019
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TRANSPORT: Channel Tunnel Celebrates 25 Years

“Chris Froome: First person to cycle through Eurotunnel.” In the Chunnel’s third ‘service’ tunnel. Image: wikimedia.

Frank P. Davidson, American co-founder, in 1957, of the Channel Tunnel Study Group, coined the word “chunnel” for the fixed link between France and England that had been a dream of Napoleon, and drawn up as an engineering plan by Albert Mathieu-Flavier in 1802. Many historians credit Davidson whose Study Group worked with Charles Dunn of International Engineering Company/Morrison-Knudsen. Bechtel Corporation, Brown & Root, and banker Thomas Lamont, to design the three-tunnel system, as the “father of the Channel Tunnel.”

“Folkestone White Horse” carved by artist Charlie Newington as a Millennial Landmark on the cliffs overlooking the English Terminus of the Channel Tunnel.

Built by 13,000 workers from France and England, the tunnel opened 6 May 1994 and was immediately named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It’s an economic, and environmental, success. The Channel Tunnel has proved valuable to participating economies (2018 figures):

Total passengers: 20,611,337

Total cars: 2,610,242

Total freight trains: 1,797

Total trucks: 1,641,638

Total trade through the Channel Tunnel: Euro 137.8bn

Source: Ernst & Young 2018

ENVIRONMENT: Economic contribution is matched, perhaps exceeded, by environmental value: the tunnel helps to collect and mitigate emissions, making the Eurostar trip from London to Paris 90% cleaner than a short-haul air flight.

ANNIVERSARY GIFT: For its 20th anniversary, in 2014, Eurotunnel added another Channel to the Chunnel (the neologism was coined by Davidson): mobile telephone and internet came to the Channel Tunnel. What should the Channel Tunnel do for its 25th anniversary. One possibility: enhancing the power of connectivity, seeing borders as opportunities, not barriers.

Davidson, Frank P. MACRO (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1983). ISBN: 0688021824. Pages: 38-40; 94-102, 296-97.

Davidson, Frank P. editor. With photography by Lilian Kemp. Tunneling and Underground Transport: Future Developments in Technology, Economics, and Policy. (New York: Elsevier, 1985). ISBN: 0444011307

Ernst & Young LLP: Peter Arnold, Harriet Walker, Carmela Carrea. “Economic Footprint of the Channel Tunnel in the EU: An analysis of the value of trade traveling through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and EU countries.” June 2018. https://www.getlnkgroup.com/uploadedFiles/assets-uk/the-channel-tunnel/180604-EY-Channel-Tunnel-Footprint-Report.pdf/

Hunt, Donald. The Tunnel: The Story of the Channel Tunnel 1802-1994. (London: Images Publishing, 1994). ISBN: 1897817347.

Minihane, Joe. “How the Channel Tunnel changed Europe forever.” 4 May 2019, CNN.com. Includes video about how the world’s longest sea tunnel was built with 13,000 English and French workers. “A shared achievement that should stand the test of time.” https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/channel-tunnel-anniversary/index.html.

“New Channel in the Chunnel,” Lusk Brooke, 6 May 2014, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2014/05/07/new-channel-in-the-chunnel/

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

May 1, 2019
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Jakarta: first capital to move due to sea rise

Rivers and canals of Jakarta, Indonesia. Image: wikimedia.

 

MOVING THE CAPITAL DUE TO SEA RISE: Jakarta, Indonesia is the fastest sinking city on earth. Sea rise threatens the city, located on land intersected by 13 rivers. A busy port, Jakarta is congested and dense; heavy port buildings weigh down the terrain. As the capital, Jakarta also supports government, industry, and a burgeoning population. Residential and industrial water needs result in considerable pumping from the rivers, further draining the land mass. Another burden of density: traffic – Jakarta’s is among the world’s worst. And then there’s the residential buildings: 10 million people call Jakarta home, making it one of the world’s megacities. Skyscrapers dot the skyline, adding weight. Jakarta has sunk eight feet in the past decade, and the subsidence continues. Half of the city is below sea level.

Baghdad, surrounded by the Tigris River. Image: wikimedia.

NEW CAPITAL, NEW VISION: Changing the capital of a country is not unique in history. Baghdad was founded with a new vision, drawn as three concentric circles with a stroke of the Caliph’s sword marking the new capital. As Baghdad rebuilds, will Frank Lloyd Wright‘s plans and drawings bring Al Mansur’s vision to life as Madinat as-Salam, “City of Peace?” Other times, capitals moved inland from ports: Lagos, a port city, begat Abuja, moving Nigeria’s capital to a central location designed with vision and values including Haussmann’s Paris and L’Enfant’s and Banneker’s Washington, D.C. Rio de Janeiro ceded its position as capital to Brasilia, in part because the city of Ipanema beach became too dense; coastal location also meant vulnerability. The new capital, Brasilia, was central to the diverse country, representing a wider vision. Lucio Costa designed the new capital to be built in the shape of an airplane; Brasilia was the first city built to be seen from the air.

Costa’s Plan for Brasilia, in the shape of an airplane. Image: Library of Congress.

NEW BALANCE OF POWER: Just as Brazil chose an inland location, and Nigeria selected Abuja to relate to the center of the country, so Indonesia’s possible choice of an area of Borneo might represent a wider view. Palangka Raya is in consideration, in part due to a previous proposal by first president (1945-1967) Sukarno.

FUTURE OF COASTAL LOCATIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE: Jakarta is a case example of the future. Rising seas may inundate some of the greatest cities in the world, many built as ports. As Indonesia begins to move its capital away from Jakarta, it will rebuild the coastal metropolis to defend from sea rise: “By 2050, about 95% of North Jakarta may be submerged,” according to Heri Andreas, Bandung Institute of Technology. Can innovations such as those proposed by Lempérière and Deroo to use canals, and rivers, to combat rising seas, help Jakarta and other port cities build a safer, better future? Will the Belt and Road Initiative build very different kinds of ports, using rivers, canals, and urban harbors to address sea rise?

Afra Sapiie, Marguerite. “Jokowi wants to move capital out of Java.” 29 April 2019. The Jakarta Post. https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/29/jokowi-wants-to-move-capital-of-java.html/.

BBC. “Indonesia’s planning minister announces capital city move,” 29 April 2019.

Lemer, Andrew C. “Foreseeing the Problems of Developing Nigeria’s New Federal Capital.” In Macro-engineering and the Future: A Management Perspective. edited by Frank P. Davidson and C. Lawrence Meador. Boulder,  CO: Westview Press, 1982.

Lempérière, François and Luc Deroo. “Peut on éviter les inondations à Paris?” January 2018. Symposium du DCBR : comité français des barrages et réservoirs. http://www.barrages-cfbr.eu/IMG/pdf/symposium2018_10_deroo_lemperiere_peut-on_eviter_les_inondations_a_paris.pdf

Litwin, Evan T. “The Climate Diaspora: Indo-Pacific Emigration from Small Island Developing States.” 2011. University of Massachusetts Boston. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers/cfm?abstract?id=1912859.

Kennedy, Merrit. “Indonesia plans to move its capital out of Jakarta, a city that’s sinking.” 29 April 2019. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/718234878/indonesia-plans-to-move-its-capital-out-of-jakarta-a-city-thats-sinking.

Toppa, Sabrina. “These cities have the worst traffic in the world, says a new index.” 4 February 2016. Jakarta, Istanbul, Mexico City, Surabaya, and St. Petersburg top the world’s cities among 78 surveyed. Time Magazine. http://time.com/3695068/worst-cities-traffic-jams/

Appreciation and recognition: David Edwards-May, Inland Waterways International, Andrew C. Lemer, Evan Litwin, and Cherie Potts for contributions to this post.

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

April 22, 2019
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Earth (Day) Song

“Earth.” Image: NASA.gov.

Lil Dicky didn’t set out to make history, or even a song about the earth. At first, it was just an idea about animals with creatures voiced by a friends. But with friends like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, and Leonardo DiCaprio, a song for Earth Day was born. Honoring an occasion with music is not a new idea: the Suez Canal’s opening was celebrated with Verdi’s Aida. Philip Glass composed Itaipú to honor the hydroelectric facility that brings power to Brazil and Paraguay. Glass was inspired for the commission by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to write a work based on the original Guaraní name for the river’s sound: “Singing Stone.” Paul Winter attended a lecture by Roger Payne at Rockefeller University, hearing recorded songs of whales; with then-governor of California Jerry Brown, Winter helped found “Whale Day” and began making music with the troubadours of the deep. Carl Sagan included cetic songs in the compendium of music sent into space. On this Earth Day, what will you do to honor, celebrate, and save the Earth? Give a listen: Earth.

Burd, David Andrew, aka Lil Dicky or LD, and friends. “Earth” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvuN_WvF1to

Glass, Philip. “Itaipú.” Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with thanks to William Keene. https://philipglass.com/compositions/itaipu/

Verdi, Giuseppe. “Aïda.” Hear the rendition by Luciano Pavarotti with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8rsOzPzYr8

Sagan, Carl. Murmurs of Earth. NY: Random House, 1978. https://books.google.com/books/about/Murmurs_of_Earth.html?id=oD90-PBNyr8C and, for your listening pleasure and inspiration: “Sounds of the Earth”: https://soundcloud.com/user-482195982/voyager-golden-record-sampler-1

Winter, Paul. http://www.paulwinter.com/paul-winter/musical-vision/, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdv9QJPVPIY.

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

March 8, 2019
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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

March 1, 2019
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Should Trees Have Standing?

Trees, Rivers, and the Evolution of Inclusive Rights. Image: “Willow in Japanese Garden, Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge, WA, USA” by Photographer Geaugagrri, 2007. Wikimedia.

Legal rights, including recent developments regarding “personhood” of rivers like New Zealand’s Whanganui, India’s Ganges and Yamuna, and others soon to follow, may be seen as milestones in history, of the most inclusive definition of civilization. Human rights are still evolving; but what about animal and planetary rights, like water, or the rights of earth itself? Some credit Benton MacKaye, forester and originator of the Appalachian Trail proposed in a 1921 article. Others point to the work of Christoper B. Stone whose article and book, Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights For Natural Objects, launched an awareness of Nature’s legal rights that eventually reached the United States Supreme Court. Many date the birth of the environmental movement to Stone’s seminal paper published during a time when deforestation began to trouble the erudite reader of Darwin, Service, and Marshall. As a lawyer, Stone noted that many entities other than humans have been granted rights: Corporations, Church, State, for example. In our present era of climate change, forestation is one of the key determinants of the future, and a central feedback driver in climate systems including C-ROADS, a simulator guiding the COP21 Paris Agreement. As we continue to improve climate and rights, we may find inspiration in the work of Christoper Stone that traces “history through each successive extension of rights.”

Climate Interactive. “C-ROADS” – a downloadable free computer simulator that helps us recognize the long-term climate impacts of actions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By John Sterman, Todd Fincannon, Elizabeth Sawin, Andrew Jones, and team. https://www.climateinteractive.org/tools/c-roads/

MacKaye, Benton. “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning.” Journal of American Institute of Architects, 9 (October 1921(: 325-30.

MacKaye, Benton. The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning. 1928

Stone, Christopher D. “Should Trees Have Standing? – Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” Southern California Law Review 45 (1972) pp. 450-501. https://iseethics.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/stone-christopher-d-should-trees-have-standing,pdf

Stone, Christoper D. Should Trees Have Standing?: Law, Morality, and the Environment. 3rd edition, 2010 (originally published 1973). Oxford University Press (ISBN-13: 9780199736072; ISBN-10:0199736073.

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

February 20, 2019
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Building Better Coasts

Climate change is causing sea rise resulting in coastal erosion, flooding, and threatening ports and cities. Jakarta is in extreme danger: thirteen rivers run through the city, causing frequent flooding. The mega-city of 10 billion is doubly endangered: urban land is suffering subsidence, parts of Indonesia’s capital  (some predict 95%) could be deluged by 2050.

Reed beds revitalize polluted waters. Image: wikimedia

Even rivers like the Thames and Lea in London are not immune. But the city of London Bridge is responding. Thames21 is planting reeds that oxygenate rivers, restoring the habitat marred by pollution; reeds convert toxic ammonia to nitrate. Reed beds also provide habitat for aquatic life. In an echo of the Canal des Deux Mers, the canalized section of the River Lea will receive new reed beds every 300 meters over the length of the river coursing through London.

Indonesia, image: wikimedia.

Meanwhile, Jakarta is exploring response including artificial recharge, a method used a half-century ago by Tokyo in a time of subsidence; to support the program, groundwater extraction was halted and businesses were required to utilize reclaimed water. Jakarta would need to use only rainwater; could catchment systems help? The Dutch, formerly involved in the region, have returned: Institute Deltares reported on the efficacy of the current plan to build the Great Garuda Sea Wall (32 km) along with 17 artificial islands at the cost of (US$) 40 billion. Included in the plan is a new lagoon waterway that can be lowered during floods allowing water to drain. Another method: biopori – digging a hole of 100cm depth to allow rainwater to more easily absorbed into the land, replenishing groundwater. Indonesia may offer an example to many places in the world surrounded by water; how can we build better coasts?

“Jakarta, the fastest-sinking city in the world.” 12 August 2018. By Tom de Souza, with interactive elements by Arvin Surpriyadi, Davies Surya, and Leben Asa.

“Project Reed Beds.” Thames 21. https://www.thames21.org.uk/project-reedbed-2/

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

January 23, 2019
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PLANETARY HEALTH DIET: Menu Icon

Blue Marble: Icon for the Planetary Heath Diet on Menus? Image: NASA

If the Planetary Health Diet is adopted on menus, what should the logo be? GF means Gluten Free. V stands for Vegetarian; K means kosher.

Kosher Icon on a menu. Image: wikimedia

Icons are a special part of communication. NIKE’s “Swoosh” became popular worldwide because it’s an image rather than a word. The Tennessee Valley Authority promoted use of electricity with the logo of a fist grabbing a lightening bolt, perhaps reference to the myth of Prometheus.

The Planetary Health Diet needs a planet-related symbol, small enough to display next to a menu item. Many dietary icons like K and GF are surrounded by a circle, easy for the eye to spot on a busy menu. What if the Planetary Heath Diet icon were a circle we all know? Would you recognize the Blue Marble as a menu icon?

Should the World Economic Forum endorse the Planetary Health Diet? Image: WEF logo, wikimedia.

A diet that could feed 10 billion, ease the suffering of 11 million who go hungry, improve the health of 2 billion whose diet choices cause diabetes and cardiovascular ills, save health care costs, improve productivity, halt climate change, help achieve the Paris Agreement COP21, and advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), might be of interest to the World Economic Forum, meeting in Davos. The World Economc Forum could agree upon a global menu logo for the Planetary Health Diet.

“Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” 16 January 2019. The Lancet. https://www.thelancet.com/commissions/EAT

McCartney, Paul. “One Day A Week” video with Sir Paul McCartney, Mary and Stella McCartney, Woody Harrelson, and Emma Stone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulVFWJqXNg0

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

 

January 18, 2019
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Food for Thought (and 10 Billion People)

Menu of the future dish: celery, olives, and walnuts on a nest of zucchini noodles with fresh tomato sauce and spinach garnish. Source: Shahmai.org. wikimedia.

World population is growing: soon, we will need to feed 10 billion people. Globally, 820 million go hungry every day; 150 million children suffer from long-term hunger and nutritional deprivation. Conversely, 2 billion adults are overweight or obese; diet-related diabetes, heart diseases and and cancer are leading causes of death. How to balance the world’s food supply? Current levels and some choices of consumption (such as items popular in fast-food menus or backyard barbecues) are not sustainable. For example, the common hamburger: beef cattle use more grazing land, consume more water, and emit more methane, an environmentally damaging gas, than any other meat.

You don’t have to be a vegan to follow the PLANETARY HEALTH DIET. Red meat: one burger, per week. Chicken and fish: twice a week. Dairy: one glass of milk, per day. Nuts: 50g per day. Chickpeas, lentils, beans: 85g per day. Fruits and veggies: 250g per day.

According to nutritional and environmental scientists, this diet will improve everyone’s health and save the planet: 11 million people die each year from dietary causes. Meat and dairy use too much land: livestock emit 15% of greenhouse gases. Agriculture and food production consume 70% of global freshwater sources for irrigation. Find out more about the future of sustainable food: EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Diet . How can cities support sustainable food? Should educational and medical dining facilities in schools and hospitals be among the first adopters of the menu of the future?

EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health. https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/

EAT-Lancet, “Brief for Cities.” https://eatforum.org/initiatives/the-eat-lancet-commission/brief-for-cities/

Gallagher, James. “A bit of meat, a lot of veg – the flexitarian diet to feed 10bn,” BBC News. 17 January 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46865204.

Willett, Walter et al. “Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food system.” 16 January 2019. The Lancet. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31788-4. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140.

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

January 12, 2019
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WATER: Labeling the Future

Should we label products for water, land, and environmental facts? Image: wikimedia

Look at the fine print. Many items on grocery store shelves commonly have labels revealing the amount of carbs, sodium, or sugar in the product. Is it time to label information about environmental, land, and water use? For example, dairy milk, one glass per day for a year, requires 7,000 square feet (650 sq. m) of land – that’s the same size as two tennis courts. That year’s worth of dairy milk also requires water use: 2,588 gallons (9,800 liters) of water  – that’s the same amount as 150 bathing showers, each lasting a luxurious eight minutes. Switch to almond milk? It requires less water to produce than dairy, or soy, milk; but soy generates more greenhouse gases than almond.

Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Image: wikimedia.

There’s precedent for labeling environmental water sources. One of the features of water from the Roman Aqueducts was the taste and freshness of each particular spring flowing from the surrounding hills. Water surveyors used methods such as studying the health and complexions of village folk, determining water quality by such evidence. In the urbs, labeled and name-branded waters competed for consumer preference. Even today, there is a cafe in Rome advertising cappuccino made from the sweet, fresh waters of the Aqua Virgo.

The global food supply chain generates 13.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 26% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, according to Poore and Nemecek. Agriculture covers 43% of arable land; 2/3rds of the freshwater withdrawals are for irrigation. The United Nations illustration, above, indicates systemic factors regarding water, energy, and food. Wonder what you’re consuming – in food and natural resources? Even if governments don’t require such labeling, could industry groups initiate the trend? The beverage and brewing industry recently agreed to display nutrition information on beer products, but most is in small-type or hidden at the bottom of a six-pack. Coors, Corona, Guinness, and Heineken complied, and now Bud Light will display more visible listings of the amounts of barely, hops, rice – and water. According to VP of Marketing for Bud Light, Andy Goeler, younger consumers want to know and are “really in tune to ingredients.”

Here’s a link to an environmental calculator for some commonly consumed foods.

Guibourg, Clara and Helen Briggs. Calculator design by Print Shah, development by Felix Stephenson and Becky Rush.  “Climate change: Which are the best vegan milks?” 8 January 2019. BBC.com. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46654042/

Poore, Joseph and T. Nemecek.  “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers.” 1 June 2018. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aaq0216.http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/360/6392/987.full.pdf?ijkey=ffyeW1F0oSl6k&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

Spang, Edward J. “Food-Energy-Water Nexus.” 4 May 2017. IE GAC Presentation. https://ie.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2017/05/Spang-03May17.pdf.

Spang, Edward J., William Moomaw, Kelly Sims Gallagher, Paul Kirshen, David H. Marks. “The water consumption of energy products: An international comparison.” October 2014. Environmental Research Letters. 9 (10): 105002 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266620784_The_water_consumption_of_energy_production_An_international_comparison

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

December 24, 2018
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Golden Anniversary, Golden Opportunity

Earthrise, December 24, 1968: “You don’t see . Image: wikimedia.

Fifty years ago, someone grabbed a camera and changed history. NASA Apollo 8’s crew was to orbit precisely 10 times while photographing the surface of the moon, as a field study for the Lunar Landing mission.  It was 1968: before digital photography, a crew could carry only so much film – all of it was to be used for lunar surface documentation.

For hours, only the occasional click was heard as the spacecraft hovered above the lunar surface, snapping photos of the topography of the moon. There was not much to look at: gray gravely surface cloaked by a dark sky. Then, suddenly, as Apollo 8 completed the first circle of the moon, an orb of blue and green surrounded by swirling clouds appeared in the module window. It was Earth.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets.

When Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders looked out the spaceship module’s window, three voices whispered astonishment in unison. Anders grabbed the camera. “Hey, that’s not our authorized mission; we’ve only carried designated film,” said the commander. The three stared at each other in a wild surmise. Then, all three nodded in assent. Anders, mission’s official photographer, captured the first view that humanity ever saw of our own Earth.

To call it a selfie would be to trivialize it. Earthrise, as the photo came to be called, snapped history into a new era. “It was credited with awakening the modern version of the environmental movement,” according to former American Vice President and environmental leader Al Gore; author of An Inconvenient Truth. “You don’t see cities, you don’t see boundaries, you don’t see countries,” stated mission commander Frank Borman. The first Earth Day followed. World water laws developed further; in the United States, the Colorado River Compact updated environmental provisions; new policies like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act set new standards.

But where are we now, fifty years later?  Hope for our planet’s blue and green miracle is narrow but not impossible. Many governments are setting new goals to save the climate before it is too late, bringing the Paris Agreement COP21 to shared measurement standards at COP24. Cities and states are taking matters into their own hands. Businesses and industries, including aerospace, shipping, and fashion, are setting global supply chain standards to reduce emissions. In response to changing markets, innovations are developing at a pace that some find encouraging. Clean energy jobs are growing faster, and more profitably. There could be trouble, but there is a narrow window of success possible. If we too see the vision in the photo, words of Borman and Anders might ring true: “Got it?” “Yep.” 

Watch the video. Apollo 8 took the Earthrise photo on December 24, a half century ago. So, today is a kind of Golden Anniversary. Is it time to renew our vows?

“Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act,” 1974. http://usbr.gov/lc/region/pao/pdfiles.crbsalct.pdf

NASA.”Earthrise.” https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181224.html.

Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel, director, and Adam Loften, producer: “Earthrise.” Go Project Films. http://goprojectfilms.com

Wall, Mike. “This New ‘Earthrise’ Photo from NASA Is Simply Breathtaking.” 21 December 2015. Space.com. https:///www.space.com/31422-earthrise-photo-nasa-moon-probe.html/

Wright, Ernie. “Earthrise” – visualizations created for the 45th anniversary, released on 20 December, 2013. Includes extensive downloadable videos showing the actual cloud pattern on Earth at the moment. There is link to Wright’s presentation at SIGGRAPH Vancouver. NASA, Scientific Visualization Studio. http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-releases-new-earthrise-simulation-video/.

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

 

 

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