Building the World

June 23, 2017
by buildingtheworld
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Shining a New Light

“Sunrise on the Grand Canal of China.” William Havell, 1817. Image: wikimedia commons.

Infrastructure has been termed the foundation of civilization. Rome built roads, and water systems; the aqueducts made possible the expansion of the city and the empire. China built the Grand Canal, stimulating commerce, culture, and communication: the written language was first standardized because of the Canal. Throughout history, infrastructure has spurred civilization. The world currently spends $2.5 trillion on water, energy, transport, and telecommunications – each year. But, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, $3.3 trillion is needed just to keep up. What’s more worrying? Emerging and developing areas will require more of everything: electricity, roads, rail, airports, shipping ports.  Aggregate investment from now until 2030 will be significant: 49 trillion. Initiatives like China’s New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road) may globalize infrastructure that is environmentally sustainable and beneficial. Bringing new infrastructure to areas in need is a chance, perhaps unprecedented in history, to rebuild the world.

“Bridging global infrastructure gaps.” Jonathan Woetzel, Nicklas Garemo, Jan Mischke, Martin Hjerpe, Robert Palter. McKinsey Global Institute, June 2016. http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/bridging-global-infrastructure-gaps

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

April 22, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Earth Day: Social Power

Can social media influence California’s water crisis? Image: “Hashtag” by DjAvrilPerry90. Wikimedia commons.

 

Today is Earth Day. California’s drought is severe, and so is social criticism. Using the power of Twitter and other social media, vigilant citizens report water misuse and abuse. Ancient Rome was no different: Juvenal satirized water thieves, including the wealthy who bribed plumbers to pipe personal waterlines to their thirsty homes. Public relations campaigns helped England promote the New River, bringing water to London. Will “drought shaming” help to solve the water crisis?

http://www.earthday.org/

https://twitter.com/hashtag/droughtshaming

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 3, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Senatus Consultum

 

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on the campus of University of Massachusetts Boston.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston. Image: Edward M. Kennedy Institute.

This week marks the dedication and opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston. Ancient Rome’s Senate was created just after the founding of the City of Rome; the advisory body endured in power through many changes in the realm. Chosen from among leaders of the people, senators guided governance, issuing an opinion called a “senatus consultum.” Some might observe that while administrations may change, consultative representation might be the mind, and heart, of civilization.

http://www.uah.edu/student_life/organizations/SAL/texts/misc/romancon.html

 https://www.emkinstitute.org/

http://www.umb.edu/

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.

 

October 20, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Water

 

A drop of water. Image: wikimedia commons.

 

Ancient Rome had more water per person than most of today’s cities. And there was enough for fountains, celebrated in Ottorino Respighi’s “Fontane di Roma.” Water is a limit to growth: Tiber threatened, Rome sent expeditions to the hills to find new sources, and built aqueducts to bring water to the city. Waters had brands: one spring was named “Aqua Virgo” after a little girl, with a particularly clear complexion (this was thought to be an indication of abundant clean water), who guided experts to a hidden spring. There is still a cafe, near the Vatican, where cappuccino is made with this special exilir. Water is recognized as a critical need for the world’s future. Actor Matt Damon‘s vision, and film “Running the Sahara,” may see Africa lead.

For more:

Hargreaves, Steve. “Greatest urban projects of all time,” Oct 7, 2014, CNN. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2014/10/07/greatest-urban-projects/4.html

Running the Sahara: http://www.runningthesahara.com/

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.

 

November 30, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Water: How Much is Enough?

Neptune Fountain. Image: wikimedia.org.

Ancient Rome had more fresh water available to its people than present-day New York: about 200 gallons (750 liters) per person per day, compared to average per capita consumption in the United States of 150 gallons (563 liters). Rome’s fountains, over 1000 gracing the city, were evidence of abundance of aqua vitae, water of life overflowing. Originally dependent upon the Tiber River for all things aquatic, from drinking to sanitation, Rome quickly encountered limits to growth. Answers lay beneath the ground in the form of springs, channeled by the famed Roman Aqueducts built by a peacetime Roman army. Without abundant water, ancient Rome could not have grown to its population of over one million. The same is true for cities today: water is a limiting factor, made more precious by demands upon its availability for industry, agriculture, and of course drinking. By 2025, half of the world’s people will suffer water deprivation. What can, and should, we do about the destiny of water?

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.

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