Building the World

September 21, 2020
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Let Your Voice Be Heard

“The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism,” states the declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations (UN). Founded after the tragedy of World War II, the UN has worked to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedom for all, in the context of sovereign equality of States and the right of self-determination for all. To participate in the 75th anniversary, see videos of presentations here.

Logo of the United Nations. Image: wikimedia.

Emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic will require cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sets the theme: “Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive, and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.” The UN invites your ideas for the top three priorities of the future. Where would you like to see the world in 25 years, the 100th anniversry of the UN? Let your voice be heard in setting global priorities and shaping our future together:  take the survey.

United Nations. “The United Nations is running the largest ever global conversation as it turns 75 and wants to hear from you.” https://un75.online/#s2.

United Nations. “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations,” September 2020. https://undocs/org/A/75/L.1.

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

April 20, 2020
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ENERGY: Funding the Future

How should we spend the money of hope? Image: wikimedia.

THE MONEY OF HOPE

In the early part of 2020, the entire globe went into lockdown, suffered a plague of sickness and death that took lives and livelihoods of those in every corner of the world. In an urgent response, money on an unprecedented scale has entered the global economy.

Economic stimulus, large deposits of cash and loans, initiated to save national and global economies, present opportunity. How countries direct their bailouts may determine the future. Never again will so much money be readily available to rebuild the world. Let’s take a look at some examples:

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$700 billion pledged in asset purchases or quantitative easing (QE)

Federal funds rate: 0-0.25%

Discount window rate: cut by 150 basis points

Unlimited QE, including purchase of corporate and municipal bonds

Six months of allowing foreign central banks to access U.S. dollars for overnight dollar loans

$2.3 trillion to support local governments, small-mid businesses, with 4-year loans to enterprise with up to 10,000 staff

$2.2 trillion aid package (27 March 2020) with $500 billion for suffering industries and direct payments to individuals ($1200) and families (up to $3,000)

EUROPEAN UNION

120 billion euros ($130 billion) added to asset-purchase program of 20 billion euros per month

750 billion euros in QE, adding to existing with total of 1.1 trillion euros

Eliminated cap on number of bonds EU could buy from any Eurozone country

Cut interest on Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs) by 25 basis points to -0.75% (12 March 2020)

Suspended limits of EU government borrowing

Allowed credit line equal to 2% of national GDP from European Stability Mechanism (ESM) fund

European Investment Bank lending 200 billion euros to businesses

ESM freeing up 240 billion Europe of credit to governments

Total of 3.2 trillion euros: including provisions to cut company working hours rather than jobs

Berlin, Germany. Image: wikimedia.

GERMANY

750 billion euros total: with 100 billion for economic stability fund with direct stake in businesses

100 billion euros for public-sector development bank

400 billion euros to secure corporate debt vulnerable to default

FRANCE

300 billion euros guaranteed for corporate borrowing from commercial banks

45 billion euros to shore up businesses and employees

ITALY

400 billion euros of liquidity and bank loans to businesses

25 billion euros to suspend mortgage and loan repayments for families and companies, and funds for firms to pay workers on furlough or layoff.

SPAIN

200 billion euros divided in half with 50% government-backed credit for businesses/50% to help vulnerable people

700 million euros program to suspend evictions for six months after emergency is lifted

UNITED KINGDOM

200 billion pounds ($248 billion) of bond purchases

interest rate cut to 0.10% Bank of England

Bank of England doubled corporate bond purchase program to 20 billion pounds

Bank of England pledge to buy commercial paper with maturity of up to 1 year for businesses with pre-crisis investment grade credit

330 billion pounds in loan guarantees to business including paying 80% of staff salaries

Allowing businesses to temporarily retain 30 billion pounds of VAT (value added tax)

CANADA

Reduced overnight interest rates to 0.25%

Pledged purchase of Government of Canada securities – C$5 billion per week

C$50 billion credit for insured mortgages

C$10 billion for business support

C$150 billion for morgtages

C$55 billion for tax deferrals for businesses and families

C$27 billion aid for workers and low-income households

Government payment of up to 75% of salaries for workers in small and mid-sized businesses

Japan. Image: wikimedia.

JAPAN

Bank of Japan one-year zero-rate program to financial insitutions

Y430 billion for small and mid-sized businesses

Funding upgrades of medical facilities

Pay working parents forced to take leave due to school closures

Stimulus package of Y108 trillion ($993 billion) with cash payouts to households, small businesses; total package is equal to 20% of Japan’s economic output

CHINA

Yuan 2.8 trillion for infrastructure investment, backed by local bonds (19 March).

People’s Bank of China cut reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for small banks by 100 basis points. Worth about 400 billion yuan; cut will be in two phases, 15 April then 15 May 2020.

500 billion yuan ($71 billion) for re-lending and re-discount quotas

350 billion yuan for increased loan quota for businesses

Cut cash reserve requirements for banks, releasing 550 billion yuan

Also ruled: expand budget deficit, issue more bonds, drop interest rates, delay loan repayments, reduce supply-chain bottlenecks, and encourage renewed consumption

INDIA

1.7 trillion rupee ($22 billion) for food security and direct cash transfers. (26 March)

Reserve Bank of India cut repo rate by 75 basis points to 4.40%

SOUTH KOREA

100 trillion won economic rescue package (7 April) including 29 trillion won in loans to small and mid-sized businesses, and 20 trillion won to buy corporate bonds and commercial paper

36 trillion won in loans to exporters hurt by virus shutdown

9.1 trillion won ($7.5 billion) cash payments to most families

17.7 trillion won to boost consumption

INDONESIA

$24.9 billion for social welfare to 10 million household for food and energy discounts, and 3 percentage point cut in corporate tax rate (to 22%)

Bank Indonesia cut seven-day reverse repurchase rate to 25 basis points to 4.50%

Central bank cut reserve requirement ratio by 200 bps for banks (and 50 bps for Islamic banks)

AUSTRALIA

A$90 billion ($56 billion) funding for banks at rate of 0.25%

A$15 billion program for residential mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities

Reserve Bank of Australia cut rates in two steps for total to 0.25%, and introduced QE with a target of 0.25% for bond yields

A$66 billion for companies and welfare

A$17 billion for apprentices, small business, retirees

A$130 billion for wage support for 6 million workers

A$715 million support for airlines

Sydney Opera House, Australia. Image: wikimedia.

BRAZIL

1.2 trillion reals ($231 billion) for central bank purchase of bank loan portfolios, repurchases of dollar-denominated sovereign bonds

150 billion reals for most vulnerable people and jobs

51 billion reals to allow companies affected by virus to reduce worker pay and hours, with a goal of preserving jobs (1 April)

SOUTH AFRICA

South African Reserve Bank (SARB) cut rate by 100 basis points to 5.25%, and then reduced again (14 April 2020) to 4.25%

1.2 billion rand ($66 million) for small farms to keep up food production

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

$50 billion to help low-income and emerging market countries

“The Great Lockdown Economic Retraction: A global map of the outlook of retraction and growth of nations across the world for 2020.” From IMF Outlook. Image: Foxterria, Wikimedia.

FUNDING THE FUTURE

Add up all those stimulus packages, monetary funds, loans, and that’s a lot of money, much of it supporting business interest rates and workers’ jobs. Yet, with the exception of instances where the industry is targeted (agriculture, transport, finance), there are few stipulations on how the money should be directed. For example, there could be payments and supportive programs for innovations in energy or water, decarbonizing transport, or reducing air pollution.

While the 2020 coronavirus is an acute crisis, and climate change is a chronic crisis, both require response. Over the past decades, we have talked about climate change, but taken too little action. Part of the reason is funding. Without the urgent public health crisis and resultant shutdown, the world would never have allocated so much money to rebuild economic life. Yet, there it is. Now.

Yes, there has been disaster response to unfortunate hot-spots suffering tsunami or hurricane damage, earthquake or fire devastation. But that was in a region. Yes, there has been systemic change, world-wide, in some industries due to disaster; after 9/11, airports and security changed permanently, but that was just one sector.

In 2020, the whole world changed at once. With everyone hit by the corona virus, new ways of communicating and working evolved. Cities rethought transport. Fossil fuel loss dropped and cities saw cleaner air. Sadly, it was all due to death and sickness. But as a result, to rebuild after the virus, every country on earth has raised new money, and new hope.

Where money goes to an industry, how can that sector direct renewal to the future we know is coming: de-carbonized and sustainable? Of course, some of the funds must support present production lines and supply-chains, but surely a percentage could be directed forward to future goals.

What would you do with this one-time funding to rebuild the world?

Sources:

Cash, David and Rebecca Herst, “Covid-19 and Climate: Policy and Practice.” 22 April 2020. University of Massachusetts Boston. https://www.umb.edu/news_events_media/events/covid_19_and_climate_policy_and_practice

Figueres, Christiana and Tom Rivett-Carnac. A Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis. Knopf, 2020. ISBN: 978052658351

International Monetary Fund. “IMF makes available $50 billion to help address the coronavirus.” 4 March 2020. https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2020/03/04/sp030420-imf-makes-available-50-billion-to-help-address-coronavirus?mod=article_inline.

Ivanova, Maria. “Coasts and Communities.” Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, National Science Foundation. University of Massachusetts Boston, Center for Global Governance and Sustainability, Global Environmental Governance Project. https://www.umb.edu/igert/about.

Reuters, “Factbox: Global economic policy response to coronavirus crisis.”  14 April 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-economy-factbox/factbox-global-economic-policy-response-to-coronavirus-crisis-idUSKCN21W2AJ

Steil, Benn. The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order. Princeton University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780691149097

Appreciation to the University of Massachusetts Boston, especially Dean David Cash, Professor Maria  Ivanova, and Director Rebecca Herst.

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

January 25, 2020
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ENERGY: Doomsday Clock

Back in the good old days, when doomsday was just three minutes away. Now, it’s 100 seconds. Time to reset. Image: wikimedia

We are in humanity’s moment of greatest peril,” warn those who keep time on the Doomsday Clock, moving us to 100 seconds before midnight. Midnight means catastrophic global annihilation. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded in 1945 by those who worked on the Manhattan Project, when doomsday only meant blowing ourselves up with bombs, the Doomsday Clock now includes a second danger: “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers – nuclear war and climate change – that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond.” (Ban Ki-Moon et al 2020)

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, inventors of the Doomsday Clock. Image: wikimedia

The Doomsday Clock does not really tick but is set. It started at seven minutes to midnight in 1947. Its best year to date was 1990, when it was fixed at 17 minutes to midnight, indicating the world was hopeful and relatively calm. The clock held at 2 minutes to midnight through 2017 – 2019, but now it is closer than it has ever been. It’s only been reset 24 times since 1947.

Regarding this week’s setting of the clock to 100 seconds before midnight, the keepers of the clock note two action areas. First, due to expire in 2021, the only remaining bilateral agreement between two nuclear super powers (Russia and USA), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), must be extended. Regarding the other existential threat, climate change, over 60 countries have committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. While the United States has not committed, California and New York have. That’s encouraging, but it’s still not enough, just 11% of world emissions.

Meanwhile, the clock is moving closer to midnight. Whether or not we suffer a nuclear war or an accident, certainly possible, climate change is not only possible but probable, and accelerating. We need to turn back the Doomsday Clock. What can you do to turn back the hands of time?

It is time to stop climate change, and reset the Doomsday Clock. Image: “Prague Astronomical Clock,” wikimedia.

ANIMATION: “Know the Time.” https://thebulletin.org/multimedia/know-the-time.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock

Sengupta, Somini and Nadja Popovich. “More than 60 countries say they’ll zero out carbon emissions. The catch? They’re not the big emitters.” 25 September 2019. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/25/climate/un-net-zero-emissions.html.

“Why the world is closer than every to Doomsday,” by Jerry Brown, William J. Perry, Mary Robinson, and Ban Ki-Moon. 24 January 2020, CNN.com. https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/24/opinions/doomsday-clock-emergency-moon-robinson-brown-perry/index.html/

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

 

April 11, 2019
by buildingtheworld
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SPACE: Photo of Infinity?

Enter here: matter, time, and space. Black hole Messier 87,  galaxy located in Virgo cluster 53 million light years away. “Black Hole” photograph by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, 10 April 2019. Image: wikimedia commons.

April 2019. A photo of a black hole just gave the world first view of what was thought unseeable. Black holes are so termed because matter, time, space, even light, are pulled into the vortex and never come back, or perhaps become suspended in the energy field around the black hole called the Event Horizon, identified by Stephen Hawking and suggested by Einstein. Messier 87, a very large black hole photographed today, is termed “a supermassive spacetime deforming structure.” (Heater, 2019).

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team. Image: wikimedia.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration worked as a team of eight telescopes around the world, including coordination by NASA. One of the project heroes: Katie Bouman, postdoc fellow from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (Bouman will teach at Caltech in the fall of 2019), who worked on the CHIRP (Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors) algorithm that combined the eight data flows into one image. Also on the CHIRP team: MIT’s Haystack Observatory and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Event Horizon’s photo may place Bouman in the tradition of Photo 51. It’s worth noting that Event Horizon’s historic photo is evidence of the essential importance of global collaboration in space; is this hope for a path to peace?

Bever, Lindsey. “Katie Bouman helped the world see a black hole. Fans want ‘a rightful seat in history’ for her.” 11 April 2019. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/04/11/katie-bouman-helped-world-see-black-hole-fans-want-rightful-seat-history-her/.

Bouman, Katie. “How to take a picture of a black hole.” TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/katie_bouman_what_does_a_black_hole_look_like?language=en.

Event Horizon Telescope. https://eventhorizontelescope.org

Ghosh, Pallab. “First ever black hole image released.” 10 April 2019. BBC Science and Environment.

Hawking. “Black holes store information.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkRDmJpthXg. KTCH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 2015.

Heater, Brian. Here’s the first image of a black hole.” 04/10/2019. TechCrunch.

MIT CSAIL. @MIT_CSAIL.

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 30, 2019
by buildingtheworld
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Building Peace

Can peace be built? International Peace Day Logo: wikimedia.

 

Are ports the future of peace? There is precedent. An 1854 firman, signed by Pasha al-Said and Ferdinand de Lesseps, stated that a canal, to be built in Egypt, would be open to “all nations”  and “no particular advantage can ever be stipulated for the exclusive benefit of one country” with tariffs equal for all nations. The Suez Canal opened in November 1869 with much fanfare including commissioning of Verdi’s opera “Aida.” In over 200 years, the canal was closed 6 times: the shortest was 3 days; the longest, 8 years. Despite such closures, the canal endeavored to follow the chartered guideline. How successful was the project that included openness and peace in its authorization and financing?  On November 15, 2018, 33 vessels traversed from the North and 23 from the South. The building of the waterway employed 1.5 million people.

Canal des Deux Mers linking the Mediterranean with the Atlantic. Image: wikimedia.

Almost two hundred years earlier, in 1666, the Canal des Deux Mers, or Canal Between the Seas, by the Edict of October 1666 for the Canal of Languedoc, was decreed and authorized to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean sea, in a waterway open to “all nations of the world as a great work of peace.”

Some call it Silk Road 2.0, but by any name, the Belt and Road Initiative, a system of canals, roads, trains, shipping routes and ports, when built, will be the world’s largest engineering project in history. This transport and connection system will include 1/3 of the world’s trade and GDP and 60% of the world’s population in 65 countries, using 75% of the world’s known energy reserves. Like Suez, or the Canal between the Seas, with open access essential to strategy and purpose, initiatives of such macro scope might include peace in their charter.

Mobilizing the Organization: Bringing Strategy to Life suggests four stages of mobilization: Purpose, Structure, Guidance, Resourcing. Guiding the Belt and Road Initiative will be eight International Centers of Excellence, focusing on climate change, environmental research, and disaster risk reduction.

Bangkok’s Wat Pho Temple. Photographer, Ninara, 2016. 4Y1A0213. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bangkok may lead the way. The first International Centre of Excellence on Integrated Climate Change, Disaster Risk and Environmental Research and Capacity Building opened in Thailand on 27 February 2018. It’s in partnership with Asian Institute of Technology, Geo-Information and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), and Ramkhamhaeng University Center of Regional Climate Change and Renewable Energy (RU-CORE). When Professor GUO Huadong, Chair of DBAR (Digital Belt and Road) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NRCT Secretary-General Sirirung Songsivilai, the agreement chartered the Center in Bangkok (ICoE-Bangkok) to create a satellite database for “environmental protection, risk reduction, food stability, urban development, and the preservation of coastal resources and world heritage sites.” The Suez Canal linked banking and peace; recent studies have suggested that banking may be one of the keys to chartering and maintaining peace. Guiding factors regarding resources – financial, natural, and human – Thailand might help to build the future, opening a portal of peace.

Asian Institute of Technology. “Earth Data Analytics to be AIT focus in Digital Belt and Road (DBAR).” 4 April 2018. https://www.ait.ac.th/2018/04/earth-data-analytics-ait-focus-digital-belt-road-dbar/

DBAR. “Digital Belt and Road Programme Opens its First Centre of Excellence in Bangkok.” 28 February 2018. http://www.dbeltroad.org/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid-85&id=629.

Edwards-May, David. “Decline and Renaissance: 1975-1994,” From Sea to Sea: An Illustrated History of the Canal du Midi. by L.T.C. Rolt with postscript by David Edwards- May. Euromapping. ISBN: 2910185028.

Kunaka, Charles. “Six Corridors of Integration: Connectivity Along the Overland Corridors of the Belt and Road Initiative.” 4 October 2018. The Trade Post Blog; The World Bank. https://blogs.worldbank.org/trade/six-corridors-integraion-connectivity-along-overland-corridors-belt-and-road-initiative.

Litwin, George H., John J. Bray, and Kathleen Lusk Brooke. Mobilizing the Organization: Bringing Strategy to Life. London: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Suez Canal Authority. https://www.suezcanal.gov.eg

The Nation. 28 February 2018. “Thailand sets up technological center for B&R Initiative. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/breakingnews/30339848.

World Bank. “Belt and Road Initiative.” 29 March 2018. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/regional-integration/brief/belt-and-road-initiative.

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 3, 2018
by buildingtheworld
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Sending the Signal

Tom Brady, New England Patriots. Image: wikimedia.

Landmark program of the National Football League (NFL). “My Cause, My Cleats” features football athletes sending a signal. Players declare their cause and customize their shoes to put the cause into action. For the New England Patriots, messages include Tom Brady: Best Buddies; Sony Michel: Haitian Earthquake Disaster Rebuilding; Matthew Slater: International Justice Mission.

Michael Jordan may have started the trend of sending a message through athletic footwear. Image: wikimedia.

Could the idea mobilize the future of climate change? This week, world leaders meet in Katowice, Poland for COP24: three years since COP21, and the Paris Agreement, it’s time to take the climate’s pulse. In light of the IPCC data showing deteriorating climate and nations are not on target, compounded by the recent report on climate and economy in the United States, one of the questions to be debated in Poland may be how to communicate the urgency. Climate scientists have commented that finding the right message and image is challenging. Polar bears didn’t work; plastic in fish led to some awareness but did not solve the problem. What could?

The power of an image and a slogan. Image: Social welfare library, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Some of the greatest successful macro initiatives in history came to life with a coined word, a slogan, an image. The Channel Tunnel had been in some form of planning since Napoleon, but it took a newly coined word, “Chunnel,” (by Frank Davidson) to make the idea of a rail tunnel across the channel linking England and France popular enough to get built. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “sold” the idea of electricity with a slogan “Electricity for ALL” emblazoned on one of the first logos in history: a fist clutching a lightning bolt, reminiscent of Prometheus.

Poland could recommend sports stars and teams adopt one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for example. Another image? #1.5, slogan displayed on the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 2015, and the subject of the world’s largest postcard collaged on a glacier in Switzerland.  “My Cause, My Cleats” might help to mobilize change. Making climate action fashionable can be even more exciting when profitable. The NFL invites fans to bid in an online auction to buy the cleats, assured that 100% of the proceeds will go the player’s charitable cause.

Tokyo 2020 – my cause, my cleats goes global? Image: wikimedia

COP24 could, among its recommendations on climate action, send a global message of peace and sustainability through the 2020 Olympics. When Tokyo hosted the games half a century ago, Japan launched a new era in efficient-energy speed-rail transport: Shinkansen. Will the Olympics of 2020 send the message of climate action in sartorial splendor?

Bobin, Jean-Louis. Les Déconvenues De Prométhée: La longue marche vers l’énergie thermonucléaire. Atlantis Sciences/Atlantica 2001. ISBN: 2843943264.

Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities After Disasters. “Haiti: After the Cameras Have Gone.” 2010. University of Massachusetts Boston.

Davenport, Coral and Kendra Pierre-Louis. “U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy.” 23 November 2018. The New York Times.

NFL . “My Cause My Cleats” NFL Auction.

SDG Knowledge Hub. “Katowice Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP24) 2-14 December 2019. Katowice, Slaskie, Poland. http://sdg.iisd.org/events/unfccc-cop-24/

Sullivan, Tyler. “Patriots players reveal their My Cause, My Cleats.” 30 November 2018. 247sports.com.

UNFCCC. “Katowice Climate Change Conference – December 2018.” United Nations Climate Change. https://unfccc.int/katowice.

United Nations. “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Climate Action.” https://unfccc.int/achieving-the-sustainable-development-goals-through-climate-action

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 26, 2018
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SPACE: Touchdown – InSight Landed on Mars

Mars. “Mars: BeforeAfter Duster-2018” Image: wikimedia commons.

 Touchdown! InSight landed on Mars. “We can’t exactly joystick the landing,” quipped InSight’s Descent and Landing Leader, describing the approach at an angle of precisely 12 degrees, in precisely planned stages measured by velocity changes from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to 5 mph (8 kph) in seven minutes, all directed by  NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, USA. Once established on the Red Planet, InSight will get to work, revealing data relevant to the deep interior of Mars. One scientist likened the deeper probe to taking Mars’ temperature; if it’s warm, that may have implications for a suspected lake of water inside the planet.

InSight is supported by a team of partners including France’s Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, and Imperial College, Oxford University. With scientific cooperation, how might space advances influence updates of the Outer Space Treaty that governs the rights of planets? Can space become our first true commons establishing shared values, including environment and peace?

Cook, Jai-Rui and D.C. Agle. “NASA InSight Team on Course for Mars Touchdown,” 21 November 2018. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. https://mars.nasa.gov/news/8389/nasa-insight-team-on-course-for-mars-touchdown/?sight=insight

“Mars Had a Busy Year.” A  review of recent scientific advances including NASA’s Curiosity Rover identifying organic modules in June, followed by July’s discovery by the European Space Agency ESA of a large, watery lake beneath the planet’s southern polar ice, and in November, the confirmation of NASA Mars 2020 Rover landing site on Jezero Crater. The New York Times team. 25 November 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/25/science/mars-nasa-insight-landing.html

Outer Space Treaty: http://www.ifrc.org/docs/idrl/I515EN.pdf

Watch the landing in an interactive visualization: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/entry-descent-landing/

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 20, 2018
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Happy 20th Birthday, International Space Station

International Space Station Insignia. Image: Nasa.gov.

What do you get for a birthday present – for a space station? Today is the 20th birthday of the International Space Station. It was on November 20, 1998, that the Zarya module launched from Kazakhstan; two weeks later, the United States launched the NASA module, Unity. A new era of cooperation and peace began when Russia and the United States joined together to build the largest human-made object in space. At 375 feet, it’s just one yard shy of a regulation football field. Over the past 20 years,  230 people have joined the scientific crew, with Peggy Whitson staying the longest – 665 days. For its 20th birthday present, the International Space Station will receive a 3D Printer: combination recycling and fabricator, the Refabricator can melt old plastic and transform the material to build new tools. Regarding birthday cake: surely no candles. But, since astronauts dine while hovering in zero gravity, but maybe root beer floats.

NASA. “NASA, Northrop Grumman Launch Space Station, National Lab Cargo.” 17 November 2018. https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-northrop-grumman-launch-space-station-national-lab-cargo.

Sommerland, Joe. “International Space Station: twenty facts about the ISS as it celebrates its 20th birthday.” 19 November 2018. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/international-space-station-iss-location-nasa-orbit-20-birthday-anniversary-a8641431.html.

Watch an astronaut eat cake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zRKValrrGE

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

June 15, 2018
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Voice of the Future 2018: Stephen Hawking

15 June 2018, Westminster Abbey, message sent: 15 June 5518, 1A 0620-00, message received. As Stephen Hawking’s mortal remains were interred between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, the visionary physicist’s words were sent, with music composed Vangelis for the occasion, to the black hole closest to earth, 3500 light years away.

Stephen Hawking, Voice of the Future. Image: European Space Agency.

Hawking’s Voice of the Future is “a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet,” stated Lucy Hawking, the physicist’s daughter.

Black Hole 1A 0620-00 calls home a binary system with an orange dwarf star. According to Günther Hasinger, European Space Agency’s Director of Space, “when Stephen Hawking’s message reaches 1A 0620-00, it will be frozen in the event horizon.”

Ave atque vale is a phrase credited to the Roman poet Catullus, who wrote in elegy numbered 101: Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale, meaning “And for eternity, brother, hail and farewell.” In 2018, the poet’s words rang along with the chimes of Westminster.

Stephen Hawking, who wrote A Brief History of Time, may have changed the definition of the temporal dimension.  For Hawking’s TED Talk, “Questioning the Universe,” click here.

More:

Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time. 1988. ISBN: 9780553380163.

Stephen William Hawking, 1942-2018. http://www.hawking.org.uk.

Vangelis, Chariots of Fire. The Hawking CD, beamed into space 15 June 2018, was given to those attending services at Westminster Abbey. The public will soon find the album beaming worldwide.

Westminster Abbey. “Ashes of Stephen Hawking buried in the Abbey.” 15 June 2018. https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-news/ashes-of-stephen-hawking-buried-in-the-abbey/

January 1, 2018
by buildingtheworld
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2018: Celebrate the 8’s

“Green 8 in a Sea of Blue.” Earth Observatory Image: https://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Seen from space, the Americas look a bit like a green 8 in a sea of blue. One glance reveals our planet is made of regions, not nations. Rivers do not stop at lines arbitrarily drawn on a map: transboundary waters are shared resources. Another interconnection: land use, including transport. Great rail systems of history such as the Trans-Siberian or Canadian Pacific railways redefined connection through rapidly advancing transit technologies. Now, electric highways, autonomous vehicles, and hyperloop transit could link continents in innovation.

In 2018, Canada, Mexico, and the United States debate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiations should include transboundary water resources; legal precedent of the Colorado River Compact may help address current considerations. Nafta truckers could pioneer automated highways that might steer negotiations. But Nafta may be too small to address macro issues.

Is it now time to extend the north american discussion, to a broader regional scope? Afta Nafta. Decisions about water quality in one nation may impact another; transit links continents, not countries. Oceans may ultimately determine the fate of cities: from Natal to New York, many are coastal. What if everyone in the Americas learned at least one of the languages of their neighbors? Language-based education and cultural exchange might stir innovation in areas such as shared water resources, intelligent highways, public health, and rights. Could there be a regional tour of beauty, instead of a tour of duty? Xchange students and volunteers could form corps maintaining readiness for disaster response (by definition, regional) while practicing environmental service, in an updated CCC of the Americas. Potential logo? Green 8 in a Circle of Blue.

It might be noted that 8, viewed on the horizontal plane, is the infinity symbol. System scientists may suggest that two interconnecting loops could form a renewing system. The infinity symbol was the creation, in 1655, of John Wallis (he also served as chief cryptographer for Parliament). Whether it remains infinite or not, our shared environment depends upon our actions. Perhaps it is time to dedicate at least one year, per decade, to improvement of our shared resources: celebrate the 8’s by honoring interconnection.

“Infinity Symbol” Image: wikimedia commons

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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