recentpopularlog in

jerryking : nature   6

Abused ravines are loose thread in urban fabric - The Globe and Mail
JOHN BARBER
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2002

"There is nothing quite like the ravines anywhere: no other city has so much nature woven through its urban fabric in that way," Robert Fulford wrote in a typical example.

"The ravines are to Toronto what canals are to Venice, hills are to San Francisco and the Thames River is to London. They are the heart of the city's emotional geography, and understanding Toronto requires an understanding of the ravines."

Any serious attempt to understand the ravines would probably include the fact that they are an environmental disaster, hopelessly degraded by generations of neglect, and getting steadily worse despite the green boosterism.

It might also notice that the ravines are not woven through the urban fabric in the least; rather, they are emphatically set apart from it, even suppressed by it. At least the hills in San Francisco make an impression; in Toronto, you can drive over a 100-foot bridge and never know it.

It's also possible that this bizarre dislocation -- two worlds, one right on top of the other, yet almost entirely separate -- might help explain why the ravines are still so abused: They have no constituency.
City_Hall  constituencies  emotional_geography  hidden  iconic  John_Barber  nature  overlay_networks  parks  ravines  Toronto  urban  wilderness 
november 2015 by jerryking
Busy and Busier
Oct 24 2012 | The Atlantic | James Fallows.

a lot of people are feeling overwhelmed is because people are not in true survival or crisis mode as often as they have been in much of our history. The interesting thing about crisis is that it actually produces a type of serenity. Why? Because in a crisis, people have to integrate all kinds of information that’s potentially relevant, they have to make decisions quickly, they have to then trust their intuitive judgment calls in the moment. They have to act. They’re constantly course-correcting based on data that’s coming up, and they’re very focused on some outcome, usually live—you know, survive. Don’t burn up. Don’t die.

But as soon as you’re not in a crisis, all the rest of the world floods into your psyche. Now you’re worried about taxes and tires and “I’m getting a cold” and “My printer just crapped out.” Now that flood is coming across in electronic form, and it is 24/7.....The thing about nature is, it’s information rich, but the meaningful things in nature are relatively few—berries, bears and snakes, thunderstorms, maybe poison oak. There are only a few things in nature that force me to change behavior or make a decision. The problem with e-mail is that it’s not just information; it’s the need for potential action. It’s the berries and snakes and bears, but they’re embedded, and you don’t know what’s in each one....Things on your mind need to be externalized—captured in some system that you trust. You capture things that are potentially meaningful; you clarify what those things mean to you; and you need maps of all that, so you can see it from a larger perspective. With better technology, I’d like a set of maps—maps of my maps. Then I could say, “Okay, which map do I want to work on right now? Do I want to work on my family map, because I’ve got family members coming over for dinner?” Then you can drill down into “Oh, my niece is coming. She likes this food, her favorite color is pink, her dog is named …” Then you can back off and say, “That’s enough of that map. What’s the next map I want to see?” Or: “I’d just like to read some poetry right now.”  [JCK: this is really an example of thinking in layers]
busy_work  course_correction  crisis  David_Allen  GTD  human_psyche  information_overload  James_Fallows  living_in_the_moment  mapping  mental_maps  metacognition  metadata  metaphysical  monotasking  productivity  nature  noise  overwhelmed  self-organization  sense-making  signals  stress_response  thinking  thinking_deliberatively 
november 2013 by jerryking
No to Keystone. Yes to Crazy. - NYTimes.com
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: March 9, 2013

If Keystone gets approved, environmentalists should have a long shopping list ready, starting with a price signal that discourages the use of carbon-intensive fuels in favor of low-carbon energy. Nothing would do more to clean our air, drive clean-tech innovation, weaken petro-dictators and reduce the deficit than a carbon tax.... Finally, the president could make up for Keystone by introducing into the public discourse the concept of “natural infrastructure,” argues Mark Tercek, the president and chief executive of The Nature Conservancy, and the co-author of “Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.”

“Forests, wetlands and other ecosystems are nature’s infrastructure for controlling floods, supplying water, and doing other things we need to adapt to climate change.
Tom_Friedman  climate_change  books  nature  hydraulic_fracturing  petro-dictators  petro-politics  natural_gas  Keystone_XL  pricing  carbon_tax  public_discourse  natural_infrastructure 
march 2013 by jerryking
Inspired, Naturally
13 Aug 2011 | Financial Times pg. 1. | by Paul Miles.

In a truly sustainable world, we would build our homes using only recyclable materials, renewable energy and without any waste. It seems impossible – and yet that is how the rest of nature operates.

Animals and plants build structures of incredible complexity without the energy-hungry high temperatures, pressures and toxic chemicals with which we process raw materials in this fossil fuel age, and without generating useless waste. Our buildings, on the other hand, are responsible for more than 40% of carbon emissions in the EU. Globally, the construction industry is responsible for 30-40 % of solid waste, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

It is no wonder that architects and designers are looking to the rest of nature for inspiration. They always have: Leonardo da Vinci sketched designs for a flying machine with bird-like wings; the Wright brothers studied a vulture’s drag and lift. In the 21st century, scientific advances such as molecular genetics and nanotechnology have made drawing inspiration from nature a more precise science. Biomimicry, as it’s known in the US (or biomimetics in the UK) is, “the conscious emulation of life’s genius: innovation inspired by nature”.......If we could mimic that on a larger scale, imagine the difference it would make to our building industry. We could produce our own organic “steel” at an ambient temperature, formed from nothing more than everyday atoms such as carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. The need to mine, transport raw materials, burn coal and produce toxic wastes would all virtually disappear. What’s more, the whole process would be solar-powered....The $170bn cement industry, a big emitter of carbon dioxide, is having a biomimicry-related makeover. Calera, the American company, is using waste carbon dioxide from flue gas to produce a type of cement in a process similar to coral growth. In a move that shows that the US government recognises the potential of Calera to turn cement manufacture from a process that emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide into one that sequesters it from power stations, the company was awarded $19.5m by the US Department of Energy last year.

That is a Utopian scenario but there are other areas where progress is being made. These include digital fabrication technologies such as 3D printing that can “grow” structures that breathe and work like living systems...biomimicry is heralded as one of the growth areas for this century. It is a genuinely multi-disciplinary field where, for instance, a research team comprising entomologists, engineers and materials scientists is not uncommon.......Buildings with an appearance of biological forms are not new. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, similar to plankton in their geometry, are resource-efficient in their construction....Biomimetic architecture is certainly not as simple as creating buildings that reflect nature’s aesthetics.

A building cited as an example of biomimicry is a conventional-looking 1990s shopping centre and office block, the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe.....“Buildings that adapt to changing conditions is the way we have to develop if we are to mimic truly the low energy ways in which biology works,” says architect Michael Pawlyn, whose book on the subject, Biomimicry in Architecture,
3-D  agriculture  biomimicry  books  cement  construction  cross-disciplinary  Department_of_Energy  inspiration  Leonardo_da_Vinci  nature  sustainability 
august 2011 by jerryking
Scarcity, Fountain of Innovation - The CSR Blog - corporate social responsibility
Sep. 16 2010 | Forbes | Posted by Gregory Unruh. "Panel members
came at scarcity from diverse disciplines.(e.g. perspective of
environmental sustainability), where scarcity has been a polemic since
at least the 18th century....Talk of resources scarcity, tends to focus
on energy and material constraints, but that’s only ½ of the story
because it overlooks a 3rd important resource: human
creativity (jk: human ingenuity)...Scarcity is relative. And the mere act of perceiving
scarcity changes the game...Great designers understand this. Charles
Eames says design is all about innovating around constraints. And it’s
the constraints – the scarcity – that fires the designer’s
creativity...Nature is the ultimate example of leveraging the power of
self-imposed constraints. 95% of every living thing is made out of just 4
elements: C, H, O2 and N. Scarcity of design options has not limited
nature’s creativity. There are tens of millions of diverse species and
even more miraculous functions.
constraints  creativity  design  DNA  evolution  human_ingenuity  innovation  nature  self-imposed  scarcity 
september 2010 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read