Building the World

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

 

 

December 12, 2018
by buildingtheworld
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Industrial Revolution 2.0

Spodek arena, Katowice, Poland, site of United Nations Climate Change Conference COP24. Image: wikimedia.

Are we on the turn of a new industrial revolution? As governments gathered in Katowice, Poland for COP24 to discuss how to bring the Paris Agreement COP 21 to a next stage actionable directives with the agreed goal of limiting global warming to below 2.0 centigrade (or ideally 1.5); and as, at the same time one outlier government’s delegation pitched coal, a trend emerged, investors and industries held their own summit. Some might term it Industrial Revolution 2.0.

Shared knowledge: 14th century manuscript depicting members of University of Paris. Image: wikimedia commons.

Medieval guilds for craft and trade set regional standards for weights and measures, as well as tithes and taxes to support social goals. Charlemagne united a region in part through development of bridges, roads, and universities. Businesses, industries, and universities have long been sources of scalable innovation. Both guilds and universities trained new generations with shared knowledge spread by exchange. Both businesses and industries developed supply chains with interlocking standards that are a kind of currency of rapid exchange. Industries may change faster than governments, in no small part due to economic incentives.

The first Industrial Revolution gave us many things, some involving energy sources that causing the crisis of our times. Industrial Revolution 2.0 will turn on those same forces, but turn away. Stopping coal, for example, means moving away from a system built around energy sources of the first Industrial Revolution. Industrial Revolution 2.0 means not just moving away from coal, oil, gas, and other older fuels; more importantly, it is more a question of moving to a new system that is built for the ride. Governments can talk about that; industry can build it.

Businesses gave collective voice in Paris, during COP21; Bill Gates gathered 28 investors including Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to contribute seed money to new ideas about energy. Branson stated: We must produce an abundance of clean, renewable energy and drive further innovation to make the next generation of energy more efficient. It will benefit the environment, our society and the economy. When 415 investing organizations, with an economic force of $32 trillion, gathered in Katowice, Poland, this week to add their collective voice to COP24, they pledged a new set of standards that may, if met, prove of merit as detailed in the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change.

It’s clear our innovators are taking action: what can each of us do?

Conference of the Parties 24. United Nations. https://unfccc.int/event/cop-24

Crilly, Rob. “Paris climate change summit: Bill Gates launches effort to disrupt energy sector by funding new search for clean energy.” 1 December 2015. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/paris-climate-change-conference/12026217/Bill-Gates-launches-effort-to-disrupt-energy-sector-with-fund-for-green-technology.html

Duncan, Bonnie. “Guilds and Skills.” ENGL403/603Chaucer. Millersville University. http://sites.millersville.edu/bduncan/403/guilds/

Jessop, Simon. “Investors managing $32 trillion in assets call for action on climate change.” 9 December 2018. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-investors/investors-managing-32-trillion-in-assets-call-for-action-on-climate-change-idUSKBN1080TR.

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

November 3, 2018
by buildingtheworld
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Migration and Innovation

Net Migration Rate, Map by Kamalthebest, 2017. Image: wikimedia

Human history is one of migration. We all came from Africa. Cyrene, ancient city-state where art and science flourished (the first map of the stars, the mathematics of doubling a cube), was founded by climate migrants escaping drought on Santorini. Atomic energy was the discovery of an immigrant: Albert Einstein advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the danger, and potential, that resulted in the Manhattan Project. Migrants shaped the future of Australia: two-thirds of the 100,000 builders of Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric were recruited from displaced refugee camps after a war that had forced many from their homeland. Far from being seen as a threat, homeless were recruited by Sir William Hudson, first commissioner of the Snowy: You won’t be Balts or Slavs…you will be people of the Snowy!

Immigrants founded AT&T, Comcast, eBay, DuPont, Goldman Sachs, Google, Pfizer, and Tesla, among others. Immigrants are twice as likely to start a new business as those native born, perhaps because of the courage, hope, and vision it takes to walk to a new horizon. Everyone who is an American is either indigenous (0.8%), immigrant or refugee. Immigrants start 25% of engineering and technology companies in the United States, employing 560,000 people and producing sales of $63 billion.

Conca, James. “We Are All Immigrants, Refugees Or Their Descendants. ” Forbes, 4 July 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/07/04/we-are-all-immigrants-refugees-or-their-descendants.

Davidson, Frank P. and Kathleen Lusk Brooke, Building the World, Volume 2, page 529. Greenwood:ABC-CLIO 2006. ISBN: 0313333742. www.buildingtheworld.com

Livi-Bacci, Massimo. In Cammino, 2010. Translated to English, A Short History of Migration, by Carl Ipsen (2012). ISBN: 9780745661865.

McKissen, Dustin “This Study: Immigrants are Far More Likely to Start New Businesses Than Native-Born Americans: Research shows that the economy benefits, in a big way, from immigration.” 1 February 2017. Inc. https://www.inc.com/dustin-mckissen/study-shows-immigrants-are-more-than-twice-as-likely-to-become-entrepreneurs.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

June 19, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Fire in a Jar

 

 “The most tangible of all visible mysteries – fire.” Leigh Hunt.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

From Mexico’s Mixtec ritual of Fuego Nuevo, to Africa’s creation story of Kaang whose dictum regarding fire might be heard as one of the earliest energy environmental policy statements, human use (and misuse) of the volatile is one of civilization’s most significant developments — energy.  Atomic power, originally destructive in purpose,  became harnessed by common realization that opportunity and danger must be balanced. Richard Feynman, scientist on the Manhattan Project, later reflected on the responsibility of those who play with fire (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn4_40hAA0+feature=endscreen). In the Atomic Energy Act, control of the new energy source included guidelines for patent. As global demand for cleaner, safer, renewable energy increases, innovations for “fire in a jar” will be part of the debate. Might new forms of energy be patented? What controls and public monitoring should be considered in the use of volatile power?

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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