Building the World

October 25, 2021
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WATER, ENERGY, CITIES: Earthshot Prize

One of the winners of the inaugural Earthshot Prize, The Bahamas, for a program of coral reef restoration. “Coral Reef” by Photographer Jerry Reid, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013. Public Domain. Wikimedia.

October is a time of prizes. Earlier this month, Nobel Prize winners received momentous telephone calls. Now, inaugural winners of the Earthshot Prize received recognition for innovative solutions to the world’s climate crisis. Named after the “Moonshot” launched by President John F. Kennedy to land people on the moon within a decade, the Earthshot campaign will run from 2021 to 2030. Initiated by Prince William, Sir David Attenborough, and The Royal Foundation, the timeframe was described by Prince William as “A decade doesn’t seem long, but humankind has an outstanding record of being able to solve the unsolvable. Many of the answers are already out there,  but we need everyone – from all parts of society – to raise their ambition and unite in repairing our planet.” ((Ryan and Foster 2021)

Image: Earthshot Prize.org

Bahamas: Growing coral on land and then replant in damaged coral reefs;

Costa Rica: Paying residents to protect and restore rainforests, reversing deforestation;

“Costa Rica forest,” by Nakashi, 2007. Wikimedia.

India: Takachar attaches to tractors, reducing emissions by 98%, turning waste into new products. The enterprise started at MIT and creates biochar and other products.

Italy: city of Milan as a food hub to share restaurant and supermarket food with the needy;

Milan, Italy won as a Food Hub City. “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan,” 2017 by C. Messier. Image: wikimedia commons.

Thailand/Italy/Germany: AEM Electrolyser turns water into carbon-free hydrogen.

Earthshot’s five goals for 2030. “Greetings from the Year 2030” by Riesenspatz. Public Domain, wikimedia.

Earthshot’s five goals by 2030: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix our Climate. In honor of the Earthshot Prize, Buckingham Palace turned green. The Earthshot prize announcement precedes another event designed to bring green to the UK, and the world. COP26 will soon convene in Glasgow, Scotland to decide the future of climate, energy, and Earth.

AEM Electrolyser. https://www.enapter.com/

Attenborough, Sir David and Prince William of Cambridge, “Announcing the Earthshot Prize.” VIDEO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFbwTRMwBAc

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk and Zoë Quinn. “ENERGY: The Physics of Climate Change.” Building the World Blog, University of Massachusetts Boston. https://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2021/10/05/energy-physics-of-climate-change/

Earthshot Prize. https://earthshotprize.org/

Ryan, Hannah and Max Foster, “Winners of Prince Williams Earthshot environmental prize announced.” 18 October 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/16/uk/prince-william-earthshot-prize-intl-gbr/index.html

Takachar. https://www.takachar.com/

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

October 25, 2019
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TRANSPORT: frequent flier programs

“Red Arrows at the Royal Air Show” August 2011 Image: wikimedia. Will frequent flier programs change with the climate?

First, it was Greta Thunberg who traveled throughout Europe to speak to, among others, the French National Assembly; the teen climate activist, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, declared the transport decision as a preference for lower-emissions travel. A new word came into common parlance: Flygskam (Swedish) or “Flight Shame.”

Greta Thunberg who traveled by train in Europe and by sailboat to the United Nations in New York, USA, in 2019. Image: wikimedia

Next, Imperial College London and Richard Carmichael reported to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent advisory agency of the UK government, that the nation’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, to meet the Paris Agreement of COP21, must address air travel: “Flying is a uniquely high-impact activity and is the quickest and cheapest way for a consumer to increase their carbon footprint.”

As a result, frequent flier programs, both of airlines and of credit cards, might have to go. Citing data that just 15% of the UK population takes 70% of the flights, CCC report states: “Given the scope for frequent fliers to have carbon footprints many times that of the average UK household, a lack of policy in this area is likely to be increasingly seen as inconsistent and unjust and risks damaging engagement with climate action.” (Carmichael 2019)

In the United States, 12% of Americans fly more than six round-trips per year; mainly business travelers, these frequent fliers are responsible for two-thirds of air travel, and therefore participating in aviation emissions. That’s 3 tons of carbon dioxide per year, per flier. Some policy specialists differentiate between business and pleasure air travel. But 83% of Americans drive cars, and most heat or cool their homes – activities that also cause considerable carbon emissions.

Concerned about aviation’s future, some airlines are staying ahead of the trend: British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia (art of IAG, International Airlines Group) announced a strategic sustainability plan to 1)replace older aircraft, 2)invest in sustainable jet fuel, and 3) develop new technologies that take carbon out of the atmosphere. (Guy, 2019) Businesses and universities are starting to allow longer travel time for staff who travel for work, so that they may avoid flying; train travel, including the Channel Tunnel, is recommended. Japan is updating Shinkansen (high speed rail originally built for the 1956 Olympics) in anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Saying “bye” to frequent flier programs? Image: wikimedia

Do you have frequent flier miles? What is your opinion on how incentives in transport may change?

Carmichael, Richard. “Behavior change, public engagement, and Net Zero.” 10 October 2019. Committee on Climate Change, Centre for Energy Policy and Technology and Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-imperial-college-london/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-richard-carmichael/

Guy, Jack. “Ban air miles to combat climate crisis, recommends UK research.” 15 October 2019. CNN/Travel. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/air-miles-ban-report-scli-intl/index.html.

International Airlines Group (IAG). “Sustainability.” https://www.iairgroup.com/en/sustainability

Tabuchi, Hiroko and Nadja Popovich. “How Guilty Should You Feel About Flying?” 17 October 2019, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/17/climate/flying-shame-emissions.html.

Thunberg, Greta. “Address to the National Assembly” July 23, 2019. France. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESDpzwWrmGg

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

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

October 23, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Dancing (and Walking) in the Light

 

Dancing and walking in the light. Image: Kalka, “Prosty znak graficny ilustrujacy taniec Break Dance” 2008, wikimedia commons.

Scene: crowded dance floor, London, where dancing was electric, in many ways. Scene: West Ham station of the London “tube” leading to the 2012 Olympics venue. More than one million people walked through the underground station, generating enough electricity to light the station. Similarly, the original London Bridge drew foot traffic and brought prosperity to the growing city. Both dance floor and subway station are bright ideas of Laurence Kemball-Cook, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who envisions permanent installations in high foot-traffic areas like office buildings, or universities. Pavegen produces floor tiles that combine a person’s weight with a 5mm movement in the tile, producing electrical current. While a student at Loughborough University, Kemball-Cook devised the idea, and started a company on just 50 British pounds; today, there are projects on every continent. A related MIT development derives energy from small bending motion. Should UMB’s “catwalk” pave the way to a new era for universities, giving added meaning to paths of learning and enlightenment?

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.

January 30, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Frost Fairs and the Future

Thames Frost Fair by Thomas Wyke. Image: wikimedia commons.

February 1, 1814, marked the most recent “frost fair” on the Thames in London. Pop-up pubs serving gingerbread and gin appeared on the frozen river; skating and dancing occupied idle merchants, whose businesses were closed due to the icing of the river, and festive townsfolk. In 1814, even an elephant ambled along the stretch between London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, demonstrating the thickness of the ice. What happened to this winter carnival? One factor is London Bridge itself. In 1831, a new bridge whose arches encouraged more sea water to pass under the span made for a saltier Thames, less prone to freezing. Another reason is climate change. What is the future of frost? How will climate change affect cities and bridges?

For more, http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/frozen-thames/

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.

July 31, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London 2012: Tower Bridge

Olympic rings on London’s Tower Bridge, from dailymail.co.uk

London’s iconic Tower Bridge is often mistaken as London Bridge. Tower Bridge, however, is much larger than London Bridge, and therefore able to accommodate the extra large set of Olympic rings suspended from its center. However, with no shops’ rent, financing these rings was not so easy as financing the original London Bridge. Fore more on the size and cost, please see:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2165518/London-2012-Olympics-Rings-unveiled-Tower-Bridge.html.

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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.

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