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Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
27 days ago by robertogreco
Six Graphs Show The Green New Deal Is A Winner — Data For Progress
Public opinion is lining up behind a Green New Deal, but support among Democrats and Republicans in the Senate seems to be lagging.

When U.S. Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for the creation of a Green New Deal in early February, it had 12 Democratic cosponsors, including Markey. In a month’s time, it still has...12 cosponsors. Opinion-makers will say that the seeming untenable and tangential components of the resolution are keeping other Democrats away—the general commitments to universal healthcare, affordable housing, and economic security. Yet these goals are just that: aspirations of what the Federal government should aim to achieve for the country, not specific policy prescriptions that chain a Senator to a vote they might regret in the future.

What is conveyed more concretely in the Green New Deal resolution is the large mobilization of federal resources to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable, and carbon-free energy and create millions of new jobs in the process. This transition is not some “green pipe dream”; it’s actually underway and quite far along in some states.

For this reason alone, many Senators should be supporting a Green New Deal, but let’s look several wildly obvious reasons that the Senate should be supporting a Green New Deal.

First, A Green New Deal is Popular In States with Democratic Senators



Second, Clean Energy Jobs are Everywhere! And They Hold More Power in Electing Their Senator.



So it’s Strange 12 Democrats Seem to Get What Their Democratic Peers Don’t



We would expect more correlation between a strong clean energy sector and support for a Green New Deal"
greennewdeal  2019  colinmcauliffe  gregcarlock  energy  policy  politics  climatechange  democrats  cleanenergy  edmarkey 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Pascal’s Climate – Popula
"For a decade or more there has been a cottage industry in telling people that individual action is meaningless in the face of the overwhelming force of climate change. Plane rides don’t matter, eating meat doesn’t matter; 100 companies are causing 71% of the emissions and it is they who are the problem; only governments acting in concert have the remotest chance of arresting the disaster. And so on.

One of the most influential of these arguments, with 328,677 shares at the time of writing, is a much-quoted 2017 Guardian piece by Martin Lukacs, who wrote, “Stop obsessing with how personally green you live–and start collectively taking on corporate power.”

“While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives,” he added, “fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71%. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.”

While I sympathize with Lukacs’s desire to rein in the energy oligarchs, he and other anti-individualists, like Eric Levitz in last week’s Intelligencer, are dead wrong that individual action doesn’t count.

The 71% of emissions that 100 companies are responsible for are producing?? They are mainly the result of extracting and refining fossil fuels that individuals are using for flying and driving and importing bottled water from glaciers and plastic bird feeders from China. Economic questions of supply and demand are far more salient to the matter of emissions than is any aspect of political will.

Human activity is interconnected. When the breakneck demand for these things ends–as indeed it must and will, either in time, or too late–there will no longer be a market for what the energy oligarchs are selling. From a purely logical economic perspective, it’s the only real way to stop them.

Let’s have a look at this remark of Lukacs’s again.

“Collectively taking on corporate power” is just exactly what will happen when millions of individuals stop flying on airplanes, which, again, is a thing that has to happen in order for the planet to survive. Whether through a global individual cap and trade program or simply because individual people collectively realize, together, that they are dooming the Earth and had better drive to their next holiday, is entirely immaterial. Though even a casual witness to the abject stupidity of the world’s politicians must surely suspect that the latter course has better chances.

In any case, the bigger problem with the anti-individualist stance to taking collective action is an even simpler one. There is no way to achieve collective action without individual action. Collective action doesn’t fall off a tree, it is made up of countless individual acts that turn into conversations, writings, meetings, plans. Individual actions are the only material from which collective action can be made, and to suggest that individuals are helpless and somehow just don’t matter now, in the current emergency, at a time of rising confusion, anger, hopelessness and dread, is nothing short of enraging.

[image: The most effective individual steps to tackle climate change
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html ]

In the Intelligencer, Levitz writes: “With climate change, the pointlessness of individual action is especially acute. If you accept the scientific consensus on warming, then you know your personal carbon footprint is a drop in the rising sea. So, why on earth would you feel compelled to lower your quality of life for the sake of cutting carbon emissions by a wholly negligible amount?”

What even?

Why would you even consider dialing back your own special role in destroying the planet? Why not go vacation in Tulum, while you’re at it, why not go befoul The Beach, you saw it in a movie?

It is high time for an end to the nihilist bullshit that is telling the public it doesn’t matter whether or not they eat meat or fly in airplanes. It does. Not least because even a small chance to contribute to a better possible future gives life and work meaning and value—conceivably, maybe, even more value than just obediently swallowing down your consumerist “quality of life,” spoon-fed to you by the loving algorithms of the surveillance state.

A less lemming-like, suicidal, self-loathing, murderous society would just plain say the obvious: every decision matters, in a time of crisis. Individual, collective, political, business: human life is a single gigantic machine of endless complexity, working every second on innumerable levels, and every iota of the machine involves a responsibility to society and to the future.

So if the planet is to survive the effects of human stupidity and shortsightedness—which question, admittedly, does incline the rational mind to pessimism, but still—and if every single decision counts: Why not take the Pascal’s Wager position? Why not act as if success, as if a good surprise, were possible?

In the Oxford philosophical journal The Monist of July 2011 (Vol. 94, No. 3, “Morality and Climate Change”) Avram Hiller’s (really excellent) article “Climate Change and Individual Responsibility” [JSTOR] applied a philosophical and moral lens to these questions. Hiller gives five conjectures “as to why people erroneously do not believe that individual actions have much or any effects” on climate change. They include the “Nero’s Fiddle” effect, which is like “it’s too late, fuck it, it doesn’t matter what I do”; psychic numbing, or failing to reason properly because too freaked out; limited capacity for valuing, or, “I’m too small to matter at all,” and fallacy of double-division, which is kind of like, “I can get away with putting just one straw on the camel’s back; if anything goes wrong it’s not because of me.” But really the first conjecture he gives is the best one.
Selfishness and denial. “In fact, we do in some way understand that individual actions are significant, but are also aware that if we countenance this fact and wish to remain moral, our whole lives must change. So we subconsciously let ourselves believe that small individual actions in fact make no significant difference.”
"
mariabustillos  martinlukacs  sustainability  individuals  collectivism  ericlevitz  nihilism  economics  politics  collectiveaction  individualaction  carbonfootprint  globalwarming  responsibility  society  selfishness  small  local  hyperlocal  energy  canon 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo - The New York Times
"This is the New American Home for 2018. It’s a sprawling monstrosity of more than 10,690 feet (the lot encompasses 65,340 square feet).

The New American Home should really be this condo. There are six units. One unit here can have just 1,800 square feet."



"The first New American Home that N.A.H.B. built, in Houston in 1984, was 1,500 square feet and cost $80,000. By 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, the N.A.H.B. home – a lakeside McMansion in Florida with a tri-level kitchen island and a waterfall off the master suite – was over 10,000 square feet and listed for $5.3 million in what is today one of the nation’s foreclosure capitals, Orlando.

That 1984 project was the smallest; square footage hasn’t dipped below 2,200 since 1985. The 2018 version, also in Florida, is “Tuscan”-inspired and is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage. The 2019 version, to be unveiled soon, is 8,000 square feet and has an “inner sanctum lounge” and a view of the Vegas strip.

The N.A.H.B. house may be meant to highlight trends, but they’re not necessarily the trends homeowners want (and certainly not what most people need). Instead, they’re what builders, kitchen and bath manufacturers and real estate agents would like to sell them: Think cathedral ceilings, granite countertops, gift-wrapping rooms and, more recently, “smart” appliances like a refrigerator that can text you when you’re low on milk and eggs.

Many builders will tell you that though these houses are large, they are more efficient – even that they have a small carbon footprint. But this is like bragging about the good gas mileage of an S.U.V. While a 10,000-square-foot house built today uses less energy than a 10,000-square-foot house built a decade ago, a home of this size requires a phenomenal amount of energy to run. (And most likely has an S.U.V. or two in the garage.)

Does anyone need 10,000 square feet to live in?

Families are getting smaller, not larger. The average American household shrank by 30 percent from 1948 and 2012, to 2.55 people from 3.67. Yet houses have ballooned as family sizes have contracted.

The average new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. The square footage of living space per person has increased to 971, from 507 – a 92 percent increase.

What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

In the Cloverdale749 building designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles, six families are housed – luxuriously – in a 10,500-square-foot building that has little else in common with the N.A.H.B. home.

No space is wasted here – it may not have multiple walk-in closets or “air-conditioned storerooms,” but it has high ceilings and roof decks.

Larger homes use more resources, typically require longer commutes, come with more expensive utility bills, and often contribute to more sedentary lifestyles (which in turn results in increased rates of conditions like obesity and heart disease).

The way the Cloverdale building is designed effectively reduces the need for (and costs of) heating and cooling, and increases natural light and circulation.

Thanks to its central location (and Los Angeles’s serious commitment to expanding public transit), it reduces the need for driving, too. Building this way has the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The N.A.H.B. home, in contrast, is entirely self-contained, with no regard for neighbors or neighborhood. It might as well have a moat.

This approach to housing is not only socially isolating, it’s no longer sustainable.

Our way of building homes and neighborhoods lost the plot a long time ago.

Homes like those the N.A.H.B. is promoting ignore the changing nature of families and the imminent crisis in housing for the elderly – not to mention climate change, which we have no hope of combatting without a true reimagining of the American dream. Enter the Green New Deal: If it recognized the link between building more infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even greener. Taking a strong stand against the primacy of the single family home (and the zoning that encourages it), especially the 10,000-square-foot ones, would represent a bold move toward combating climate change."
allisonarieff  housing  us  sustainability  2019  transportation  density  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  excess  efficiency  energy  society 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Ask Umbra’s 21-Day Apathy Detox | Grist
"Does this sound like anyone you know? “Dear Umbra: Since November — and really, for as long as I’ve known about the threat of climate change — I’ve been plagued by this sense of hopelessness and foreboding, and I just can’t shake it. I’ve tried it all: Late-night Facebook fights, splurging on fancy salads, retreats in the woods where I scream at a tree. Now I’m just parked on the couch watching Sex and the City reruns. Can I learn to hope again?” Well, you’ve found the right advice columnist. I’m here to quietly change your Facebook password and not-so-quietly offer the best tools, tricks, and advice to help you fight for a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. You’ll build civic muscles, find support buddies, and better your community!

DAY 1: Make a plan
DAY 2: Meet your neighbors
DAY 3: Social media makeover
DAY 4: Support local news
DAY 5: Read up on justice
DAY 6: Protest like a pro
DAY 7: Give green
DAY 8: Ditch the excuses
DAY 9: Green your power sources
DAY 10: Fight city hall
DAY 11: Get offline
DAY 12: Drop dirty money
DAY 13: School food fight!
DAY 14: Vote local
DAY 15: Attack your meat habit
DAY 16: Bug your elected rep
DAY 17: Buy less
DAY 18: Push for affordable housing
DAY 19: Talk climate at the bar
DAY 20: Support the arts
DAY 21: Run for office"

[via: https://go.grist.org/webmail/399522/223022613/dcfc605c05717cdbc5988a2c4d1a5fd7309a781b8364159d968011b54bd8b93b]

[See also (from the same newsletter):

https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator
https://grist.org/briefly/groundbreaking-study-outlines-what-you-can-do-about-climate-change/
https://slate.com/technology/2014/10/plane-carbon-footprint-i-went-a-year-without-flying-to-fight-climate-change.html
https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
https://grist.org/article/scientists-calmly-explain-that-civilization-is-at-stake-if-we-dont-act-now/ ]
climtechange  action  apathy  2018  sustainability  change  globalwarming  flights  transportation  food  energy  electricity  power  consumption  conssumrism  politics  activism  housing  justice  climatejustice  socialmedia  protest 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Daylight Saving Time Is America's Greatest Shame - The Atlantic
"The Energy Savings Are Minimal …
DST Is Bad For Your Health …
Time Shifts Are Bad For Your Productivity …
DST Is Not Financially Responsible …
DST Is Not Helping Any Farmers …
You Don't Even Like DST …"
2013  daylightsavingstime  time  us  alexanderabad-santos  waste  energy  lies 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Ancient pigment can boost energy efficiency | University of California
"A color developed by Egyptians thousands of years ago has a modern-day application as well – the pigment can boost energy efficiency by cooling rooftops and walls, and could also enable solar generation of electricity via windows.

Egyptian blue, derived from calcium copper silicate, was routinely used on ancient depictions of gods and royalty. Previous studies have shown that when Egyptian blue absorbs visible light, it then emits light in the near-infrared range. Now a team led by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has confirmed the pigment’s fluorescence can be 10 times stronger than previously thought.

Measuring the temperature of surfaces coated in Egyptian blue and related compounds while they are exposed to sunlight, Berkeley Lab researchers found the fluorescent blues can emit nearly 100 percent as many photons as they absorb. The energy efficiency of the emission process is up to 70 percent (the infrared photons carry less energy than visible photons).

The finding adds to insights about which colors are most effective for cooling rooftops and facades in sunny climates. Though white is the most conventional and effective choice for keeping a building cool by reflecting sunlight and reducing energy use for air conditioning, building owners often require non-white colors for aesthetic reasons. For example, bright-white asphalt shingles are almost never used on sloping residential roofs.

Berkeley Lab researchers have already shown that fluorescent ruby red pigments can be an effective alternative to white; this insight on Egyptian blue adds to the menu of cooling color choices. Further, they found that fluorescent green and black colors can be produced with yellow and orange co-pigments. The new findings were recently published in the Journal of Applied Physics.

In addition to its cooling potential for buildings, Egyptian blue’s fluorescence could also be useful in producing solar energy. Used on windows tinted with the blue, photovoltaic cells on the edges can convert the fluoresced near-infrared energy to electricity.

Substantial research over the years from Berkeley Lab’s Heat Island Group has found that reflective roofs and walls can cool buildings and cars. This reduces the need for air conditioning and mitigates the urban heat island effect. By reflecting the sun’s rays back to space, these cool materials also release less heat into the atmosphere, thus cooling the planet and offsetting the warming effects of substantial amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

This work was led by Paul Berdahl of the Heat Island Group as part of the Cool Walls project supported by the Electric Program Investment Charge program of the California Energy Commission."
blue  pigment  energy  efficiency  2018 
october 2018 by robertogreco
LOW←TECH MAGAZINE
"This is a solar-powered website, which means it sometimes goes offline"



"Low-tech Solutions
[https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/category/low-tech-solutions.html ]
Interesting possibilities arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials, or when you apply old concepts and traditional knowledge to modern technology."



"High-tech problems
[https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/category/high-tech-problems.html ]
High-tech has become the idol of our society, but technological progress is—more often than not—aimed at solving problems caused by earlier technical inventions."



"Obsolete Technology
[https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/category/obsolete-technology.html ]
There is a lot of potential in past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society."

[Update: See also:
https://www.fastcompany.com/90246767/the-future-of-web-design-is-less-not-more ]
low-tech  technology  sustainability  energy  economics  solarpunk  canon  lowtech  low-techmagazine 
september 2018 by robertogreco
LOW←TECH MAGAZINE: How to Build a Low-tech Website?
"Our new blog is designed to radically reduce the energy use associated with accessing our content."



"Static Site…
Dithered Images…
Default typeface / No logo…
No Third-Party Tracking, No Advertising Services, No Cookies…"

[Update: See also:
https://www.fastcompany.com/90246767/the-future-of-web-design-is-less-not-more
https://walkerart.org/magazine/low-tech-magazine-kris-de-decker ]
webdev  webdesign  publishing  sustainability  web  online  internet  energy  low-techmagazine  lowtech  low-tech 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Reasons To Be Cheerful
"I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.

The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, "Oh no!" Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, "Hey, there's actually some positive stuff going on!" Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

I will post thoughts, images and audio relating to this initiative on whichever platform seems suitable and I’ll welcome contributions from others, if they follow the guidelines I’ve set for myself.

These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories:

Education
Health
Civic Engagement
Science/Tech
Urban/Transportation
Energy
Culture

Culture, music and the arts might include, optimistically, some of my own work and projects, but just as much I hope to promote the work of others that has a proven track record.

Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess, though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.

Emulation of successful models- 4 guidelines

I laid out 4 guidelines as I collected these examples:

1. Most of the good stuff is local. It’s more bottom up, community and individually driven. There are exceptions.

2. Many examples come from all over the world, but despite the geographical and cultural distances in many cases others can adopt these ideas—these initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated.

3. Very important. All of these examples have been tried and proven to be successful. These are not merely good IDEAS; they’ve been put into practice and have produced results.

4. The examples are not one-off, isolated or human interest, feel-good stories. They’re not stories of one amazing teacher, doctor, musician or activist- they’re about initiatives that can be copied and scaled up.

If it works, copy it

For example, in an area I know something about, there was an innovative bike program in Bogota, and years later, I saw that program become a model for New York and for other places.

The Ciclovia program in Bogota"
davidbyrne  politics  urban  urbanism  bogotá  curitiba  addiction  portugal  colombia  brazil  brasil  jaimelerner  cities  society  policy  qualityoflife  economics  drugs  health  healthcare  crime  ciclovia  bikes  biking  bikesharing  activism  civics  citybike  nyc  medellín  afroreggae  vigariogeral  favelas  obesity  childabuse  education  casamantequilla  harlem  civicengagment  engagement  women'smarch  northcarolina  ingridlafleur  afrotopia  detroit  seattle  citizenuniversity  tishuanajones  sunra  afrofuturism  stlouis  vancouver  britishcolumbia  transportation  publictransit  transit  velib  paris  climatechange  bipartisanship  energy  science  technology  culture  music  art  arts  behavior  medellin 
january 2018 by robertogreco
I Tried, and Failed, to Find Out Where My Electricity Comes From
"The electric grid, as essential as it is, resists simplification. I can know and appreciate how electricity allows me to turn on the lights in my house with ease, but I can’t confirm how it got there."

[via: https://twitter.com/jbushnell/status/933012873198129153 ]
mimionuhoha  2016  electricity  infrastructure  bighere  energy  classideas 
november 2017 by robertogreco
the past is another country (again) | sara hendren
From Bill McKibben’s introduction to the 2010 reissue of E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered:
“[One of Jimmy Carter’s] first acts in office was to get rid of twenty limousines, and then don a cardigan for a fireside chat where he discussed the ‘permanent energy shortage’ the nation faced. Toward the end of his presidency, he gave one of his most famous speeches, diagnosing a ‘crisis of confidence’ in the country and attacking materialism as the cause: ‘In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,’ he warned. ‘Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.’ And, at least at first, people agreed—his sagging poll numbers jumped. Indeed, there was a mainstream audience for this kind of thinking: That year the sociologist Amitai Etzioni reported to Carter that 30 percent of Americans were ‘pro-growth,’ 31 percent were ‘anti-growth,’ and 39 percent were ‘highly uncertain.’ Read those numbers again—a plurality of Americans were ‘anti-growth.’”

McKibben is marveling at “anti,” but I’m frankly just as nonplussed and a little wistful about such a high register of admittance to “highly uncertain.”
billmckibben  sarahendren  2017  2010  jimmycarter  materialism  capitalism  energy  uncertainty  consumption  us  amitaietzioni  sustainability  growth  environment  anti-growth  energycrisis  politics  history  excess 
august 2017 by robertogreco
crap futures — Back to nature
"We live on a remote island - mountainous, mid-Atlantic, still heavily forested and pretty wild - and for that reason nature sometimes sneaks into our otherwise technology-centred work. It is hard not to think local when you live in a place like this. We’re neither farmers nor pioneers - except in the sense that resident aliens on this island are few - but lately our reading has got us thinking about ancient paths and rural places. We’ll discuss the paths today and save most of the farm talk for a future post.

Paths v roads

In his 1969 essay ‘A Native Hill’, Wendell Berry - the American writer, farmer, activist, and ‘modern Thoreau’ - makes a useful distinction between paths and roads:
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand … embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape. … It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way.


Aside from conversation as usual, the reason we are talking about Berry is the arrival of a new film, Look & See, and a new collection of his writing, The World-Ending Fire, edited by Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain Project fame. Berry and Kingsnorth, along with the economist Kate Raworth, were on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week recently chatting about the coming apocalypse and how it might best be avoided. It is a fascinating interview: you can actually hear Berry’s rocking chair creaking and the crows cawing outside the window of his house in Port Royal, Kentucky.

The normally optimistic Berry agrees somewhat crankily to read ‘the poem that you asked me to read’ on the programme. ‘Sabbaths 1989’ describes roads to the future as going nowhere: ‘roads strung everywhere with humming wire. / Nowhere is there an end except in smoke. / This is the world that we have set on fire.’ Berry admits that this poem is about as gloomy as he gets (‘blessed are / The dead who died before this time began’). For the most part his writing is constructive: forming a sensual response to cold, atomised modernity; advocating for conviviality, community, the commonweal.

Paul Kingsnorth talks compellingly in the same programme about transforming protest into action, although in truth no one walks the walk like Berry. Kingsnorth says: ‘We’re all complicit in the things we oppose’ - and never were truer words spoken, from our iPhones to our energy use. In terms of design practice, there are worse goals than reducing our level of complicity in environmental harm and empty consumerism. Like Berry, Kingsnorth talks about paths and roads. He asks: ‘Why should we destroy an ancient forest to cut twelve minutes off a car journey from London to Southampton? Is that a good deal?’

It’s a fair question. It also illustrates perfectly what Berry was describing in the passage that started this post: the difference between paths that blend and coexist with the local landscape, preserving the knowledge and history of the land, and roads that cut straight through it. These roads are like a destructive and ill-fitting grid imposed from the centre onto the periphery, without attention to the local terrain or ecology or ways of doing things - both literally (in the case of energy) and figuratively.

Another book we read recently, Holloway, describes ancient paths - specifically the ‘holloways’ of South Dorset - in similar terms:
They are landmarks that speak of habit rather than of suddenness. Like creases in the hand, or the wear on the stone sill of a doorstep or stair, they are the result of repeated human actions. Their age chastens without crushing. They relate to other old paths & tracks in the landscape - ways that still connect place to place & person to person.


Holloways are paths sunk deep into the landscape and into the local history. Roads, in contrast, skip over the local - collapsing time as they move us from one place to the next without, as it were, touching the ground. They alienate us in our comfort.

Here in Madeira there are endless footpaths broken through the woods. Still more unique are the levadas, the irrigation channels that run for more than two thousand kilometres back and forth across the island, having been brought to Portugal from antecedents in Moorish aqueduct systems and adapted to the specific terrain and agricultural needs of Madeira starting in the sixteenth century.

Both the pathways through the ancient laurel forests and the centuries-old levadas (which, though engineered, were cut by hand and still follow the contours and logic of the landscape) contrast with the highways and tunnels that represent a newer feat of human engineering since the 1970s. During his controversial though undeniably successful reign from 1978 to 2015 - he was elected President of Madeira a remarkable ten times - Alberto João Jardim oversaw a massive infrastructure program that completely transformed the island. Places that used to be virtually unreachable became accessible by a short drive. His legacy, in part, is a culture of automobile dependency that is second to none. The American highway system inspired by Norman Bel Geddes’ (and General Motors’) Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair almost pales in comparison to Jardim’s vision for the rapid modernisation of Madeira.

But when you walk the diesel-scented streets of the capital, or you drive through the holes bored deep into and out of towering volcanic mountains to reach the airport - and even when you think back in history and imagine those first settlers sitting in their ships as half the island’s forest burned, watching the dense smoke of the fires they lit to make Madeira favourable to human habitation - it’s hard not to think what a catastrophically invasive species are human beings.

Bespoke is a word we use a lot. In our vocabulary bespoke is not about luxury or excess - as it has been co-opted by consumer capitalism to suggest. Instead it is about tailored solutions, fitted to the contours of a particular body or landscape. Wendell Berry insists on the role of aesthetics and proportionality in his approach to environmentalism: the goal is not hillsides covered in rows of ugly solar panels, but an integrated and deep and loving relationship with the land. This insistence on aesthetics relates to the ‘reconfiguring’ principles that inform our newest work. The gravity batteries we’ve been building are an alternative not only to the imposed, top-down infrastructure of the grid, but also to the massive scale of such solutions and our desire to work with the terrain rather than against it.

Naomi Klein talked about renewable energy in these terms in an interview a couple of years ago:
If you go back and look at the way fossil fuels were marketed in the 1700s, when coal was first commercialized with the Watt steam engine, the great promise of coal was that it liberated humans from nature … And that was, it turns out, a lie. We never transcended nature, and that I think is what is so challenging about climate change, not just to capitalism but to our core civilizational myth. Because this is nature going, ‘You thought you were in charge? Actually all that coal you’ve been burning all these years has been building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and now comes the response.’ … Renewable energy puts us back in dialog with nature. We have to think about when the wind blows, we have to think about where the sun shines, we cannot pretend that place and space don’t matter. We are back in the world.


In a future post we will talk about the related subject of sustainable agriculture. But speaking of food - the time has come for our toast and coffee.
2017  crapfutures  wendellberry  paths  roads  madeira  bespoke  tailoring  audiencesofone  naomiklein  sustainability  earth  normanbelgeddes  albertojoãojardim  levadas  infrastructure  permanence  capitalism  energy  technology  technosolutionsism  1969  obstacles  destruction  habits  knowledge  place  placemaking  experience  familiarity  experientialeducation  kateraworth  paulkingsnorth  darkmountainproject  modernity  modernism  holloways  nature  landscape  cars  transportation  consumerism  consumercapitalism  reconfiguration  domination  atmosphere  environment  dialog  conviviality  community  commonweal  invasivespecies  excess  humans  futurama  ecology  canon  experientiallearning 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Climate Lab | University of California
"Follow conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan as he explores surprising ways to change how we think and act about climate change."
climate  climatechange  globalwarming  msanjayan  2017  classideas  behavior  consumption  energy  sustainability  sfsh 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017 by Will Wiles
"With 2016 coming to an end, Will Wiles doses out his New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017, which include resisting the hygge trend and finally taking responsibility for the climate.

I suggested New Year's Resolutions for architecture and design at the end of 2015, and the response was great. So, one year later, I've made some more:

1. An end to TED's glib solutionism

Consider president-elect Donald Trump's proposed wall to keep out Mexico. It was the most consistent pledge he made during his precedent-smashing election campaign. Trump admitted that it was his secret rhetorical weapon for when he sensed a crowd was getting bored: "I just say, 'We will build the wall!' and they go nuts," he told the New York Times.

The wall is a strong pledge to make: it's a simple, easy-to-understand design solution to a perceived problem. It's also crass, offensive and impractical in the extreme, but that didn't matter to the target audience. They got it. They went nuts.

There was a lot of this in 2016, the year zealots of various stripes promised to sweep away the knotted, stifling problems of globalisation with no more than a wave of the tiny hand. Build the wall, make America great again, drain the swamp, vote leave, take back control.

Architecture and design, which is well populated with experts and systems-thinkers, might regard itself as being apart from all this. But, in fact, one of the throbbing nerve centres of the post-expert, hand-wave era lies closer than you might think: TED, the wildly popular talks series.

TED, of course, presents itself as a hub of expertise and intelligence. And in criticising TED, I don't mean to denigrate the vast majority of its speakers, or to imply that TED equals Trump, or anything so dim. It's the format that's the problem, and the kind of intellectual legerdemain it encourages.

TED is the golden cap of the yaddering pyramid of hackism: that every wicked problem has a nifty workaround or backdoor, that it's all got a glib little design solution that'll bypass all the waffle and the smoke, and make everything OK. Ted Everyman, outsider genius, has cracked the problem that has the eggheads stumped, and it was so simple.

Trump's wall is very TED. So is his insistence that generic "smartness" on his part means that he can do without the expert advice previous presidents have relied upon, such as intelligence briefings.

The trouble for democratic opposition to these forces is that complexity and intractability make for very unenticing messages. Even more problematic is the fact that "it's complicated, let us experts handle it" is the way the globalist managerial class has ushered in many of the problems that Trump and others now claim to have solved.

Where architecture and design might be able to make a difference in the coming months is by shunning hackism and solutionism, and demonstrating instead its remarkable ability to research, explore and expose.

2. Take personal responsibility for the climate

With Trump's administration stuffed full of climate-change deniers and oil men, concerted international state action to address the warming planet looks unlikely. Worse, existing measures, such as the Paris Agreement that came into force this year, might be in peril. American leadership isn't essential for progress on the climate, but its active obstruction and wrecking of vital research could be a disastrous setback when renewed effort is needed.

The abdication of governments from climate action serves, at least, as a reminder that they can't be relied upon to enforce change. The long-awaited economic breakthrough of renewable energy has at last arrived: solar is now the word's cheapest form of energy. Simple economic forces might now drive down carbon emissions while national governments are preoccupied. Texas, a place strongly associated with oil and gas, now gets as much as half of its electricity from wind, and is anticipating a solar boom. China may also be a source of surprises.

These are changes that may yet halt the incipient climate catastrophe: not grandiose treaty-signing, but aggregated individual decisions. Be part of it in what you make and build.

3. Health warnings for the whimsy

Another Trump-related one, sadly. Trump's victory has also sparked a debate over so-called "fake news": the growing welter of misinformation, disinformation and scurrilous falsehood online. This risks crowding out more reliable sources of information and overwhelming civil society's already overtaxed critical faculties.

Again, you might wonder what that has to do with architecture and design. But of course architecture and design has a long history of generating its own "fake news" in the form of the more fanciful speculative proposals and vapourware.

There's nothing wrong with speculation, paper architecture and design fictions, of course – they're all useful endeavours and we'd be hugely poorer without them. It suits architecture and design to propose their own forms, as well as to simply deliver the proposals of others.

Even the grubbier end of that kind of activity isn't inherently bad. Here I'm talking about the completely senseless floating lilypad cities or vertical farms that get pitched out as blog-fodder for no practical purpose than showing off a designer's rendering skills and get their name about. They probably belong on Deviantart rather than Dezeen, but no one's harmed.

Really what's needed is appropriate labelling: making it clear what is speculation for the purposes of debate, what's a real proposal that's seeking backers, what might actually have a chance of actually appearing, and what's just a bit of hey-look-at-me fun. That's where the ethics get murky. Remember that Chinese straddling bus concept that turned out to be little more than a scam? Or that kooky London Garden Bridge concept that also turned out to be little more than a scam. Whimsy can be costly, people!

But seriously, knock it off with the floating cities and the vertical farms.

4. Leave "hygge" in 2016

Financial Times critic Edwin Heathcote has already done a sterling job of debunking hygge, the ubiquitous pseudo-Scandinavian lifestyle craze. Like many ubiquitous lifestyle crazes, it's a subtle blend of total common sense (fires are nice in winter) and complete balderdash.

Anyway, it's upon us now and resistance is futile – the tie-in books have already been given as presents, and they already sit amid the Christmas wreckage of many, many living rooms. And I'm sure they look harmless enough. So it's time for a word of warning.

The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins has already shown how hygge was confected within the publishing industry. I think the part played by architecture and design has been understated, though. For a start, the sector has done much to import interest in Scandinavian lifestyles by importing lots of Scandinavian people. No one in their right mind would think this was anything other than a tremendous boon, and I can only apologise to my Scandinavian friends and colleagues for the way Britain is presently making a travesty of their culture. That, and Brexit.

Let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist
It truly has been a terrible year. Architecture – specifically, architecture publishing – was also making something of a fetish of things hygge before hygge was a thing, with its recent boom in cabins and log piles. I attribute this more to an interest in consumer survivalism, rather than Danish culture, but nevertheless "cabin porn" was very much the gateway.

Anyway, here's the warning. Already, thoughts will be turning to next year's endeavours, and fun ways to present them to the public. The eye will blearily cast around the living room for ideas. Thanks to architects from Jan Gehl to Bjarke Ingels, the Danish way of making cities is already rightly praised and emulated. But let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist. No hygge placemaking. I beg of you. Just don't."

[via "These resolutions from @WillWiles are all worth considering, especially the one that equates Speculative Design and Fake News."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/815242847095951361

"There's a subtle but not so subtle difference between projects that are intended as critique, click bait, or outright hoax.

The hoax, as @bruces says, is in the territory of the Black Arts, and almost always maliciously and dangerously deployed.

I say this as someone whose proposal to launch manatees into space was reposted w/ straight seriousness by the Daily Mail & their commenters

The project, intended as critique (&, to be honest, clickbait!) was weaponized by DM, in the genre of "goofy eggheads wasting tax dollars""
ted  tedtalks  solutionism  climatechange  2016  2017  willwiles  architecture  design  hackism  government  governance  policy  economics  energy  renewableenergy  fakenews  news  media  specualtivedesign  fredscharmen  brucesterling  hoaxes  clickbait  critique  hygge  responsibility  speculation  whimsy  edwinheathcote  charlottehiggins  scandinavia  fetishes  publishing  cabinporn  bjarkeingels  jangehl  hyggeurbanism  urban  urbanism  placemaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure - Washington Post
"The maps you are about to see show the massive scope of America’s infrastructure using data from OpenStreetMap and various government sources. They provide a glimpse into where that half-trillion dollars may be invested."
maps  mapping  infrastructure  us  visualization  2016  electricgrid  electricity  energy  coal  naturalgas  hydropower  wind  windenergy  bridges  pipelines  rail  railroads  airports  ports  waterways  osm  openstreetmap 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Intensification without representation – a recipe for collapse | Lebenskünstler
"Inspired by M. Jahi Chappell (title above), Ivan Illich (relationship of energy consumption, social/economic inequality, and specialization) and Joseph Tainter (quote below). Needless to say the arts are subject to the same law of declining marginal returns. Also note that there is immense energy consumption involved in administrators maintaining the social coercion necessary for institutional buy in from the administered."
randallszott  participatorydemocracy  democracy  infrastructure  specialization  technocracy  technology  inequality  community  representation  hierarchy  horizontality  mjahichappell  ivanillich  josephtainter  energy  energyconsumption  socialcoercion  coercion  administration  management  leadership 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Hello World, Episode 4: Iceland's Brutal Landscapes Shape Its Cutting-Edge Tech
"Episode 4: Fish-slicing gear, space sims, and rugged turbines thrive in a punishing terrain of volcanoes and blizzards.

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, no country suffered more than Iceland. Sure, plenty of places fell into economic ruin, with companies going bankrupt and millions of jobs lost. Iceland, though, was flat-out humiliated. Its wealthy fisherman-turned-investment bankers had spent years hurling money around like, well, like Vikings, and their moment of reckoning arrived with great speed and force. Icelanders were beaten down, laden with debt. They feared they might never emerge from the devastation, a sad state of affairs for a people who had already spent centuries eking out a living in a frozen hellscape

Travel to Iceland these days, and you’ll find a new story. Tourism is booming, with the number of visitors (more than 1 million in 2015) increasing by about 30 percent per year. The fishing business remains strong, as does Iceland’s renewable energy push. Iceland’s technology industry has thrived. Yes, some shame lingers, and people still grumble about restrictive fiscal policies put in place to try to stop Iceland from self-annihilating again. For the most part, however, Icelanders have a cautiously optimistic outlook and reasons to smile.

On this episode of Hello World,we dive into Iceland’s revival with a special focus on how the country’s land and history have shaped its innovations. I visit a company called IceWind in Reykjavik that has a new take on small, durable turbines and then head down the coast to the fishing town of Grindavik. There, the meat processing giant Marel has installed a fleet of mechanical fish slicers that make their own decisions about how to carve up cod. I follow the tourists and take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, where geothermal pools and beer wash away the fish smell. (Sort of.) After that, I go ripping across snowy volcanoes while driving steroidal vehicles built by Arctic Trucks. It’s as fun as it sounds.

Really, though, it’s Iceland’s tremendous storytellers that drive this episode. The country has imaginative filmmakers and, more crucial to the tech scene, otherworldly video-game makers.

Iceland’s blockbuster game is EVE Online, made by the Reykjavik-based studio, CCP Games. Every year, thousands of people come to celebrate this game, which is something of a space soap opera, at an event called EVE Fanfest. For a few days, I get immersed in the EVE culture and meet the players who have a near-religious devotion to the game. It was a chance to take in the richest, most complex virtual world ever created—with some of the most devious, hardest drinking gamers.

What’s truly remarkable about Iceland is that any of this exists at all. A hundred years ago, a good chunk of the population still lived in houses made of mud and topped with grass roofs. Iceland was one of Europe’s poorest nations, with an inhospitable climate and volcanoes that seemed determined to wipe out any forward progress. Even today, there are only about 400,000 Icelanders trying to make a go of it.

Still, those people are well-educated and resourceful. Time and again, I stumbled upon some Icelandic engineer who had devised a new way to weigh fish or to farm seemingly un-farmable land. Icelanders have a knack for maximizing resources and finding clever ways out of problems.

Taking this all into account, it should be unsurprising that Iceland absorbed the 2008 hit and then kept on going. These are people who seem to have a sadomasochistic streak baked into their beings. They live to suffer. And then they relish the chance to have a few—quite a few—drinks and tell you a good yarn about the suffering."
iceland  2016  technology  evenonline  ashleevance  commercialfishing  fishing  energy  helloworld  video  marel  geothermalenergy  hydroelectricity  renewableenergy  wind  turbines  windturbines 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Otherlab!
[previously bookmarked: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:2482ea1338ff ]

"We are mischievous scientists, practical dreamers, working on making the world the way it needs to be. Asking: "Wouldn't it be cool if..." is an excellent place to start:

If you'd like the more in depth version check out the video from our Show and Tell event. We're always on the look out for interesting folks so if this excites you then head over to Jobs to see what's going.

How we work

We have a strong track record of attracting research funding for early and risky ideas in areas such as ‘programmable matter’, robotics, solar energy, wind energy, energy storage, computational and advanced manufacturing, medical devices and more. These non-dilutive investments allows us de-risk the very early exploratory phase of our projects.

We develop enabling new technologies through an emphasis on prototyping coupled to rigorous physics simulation and mathematical models. Our design tools are often made in-house because it's lonely at the frontier and to create new things and ideas, you often have to create the tools to design them.

Core to our model are collaborations with external entities including commercial entities, universities and other research firms. In the past 5 years Otherlab has collaborated with Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, NASA, Autodesk, GE, FORD, Google, Motorola, IDEO and a host of others.

What we work on

Our principal domains of expertise are: Renewable and clean energy, Computational Geometry, Computational design tools, Digital Fabrication, Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and automation & Engineered textiles.

Want a more practical idea? We like you! Head over to Projects for a better sense.

How to reach us

We are @otherlab on twitter and that is a great place to start a conversation. Visual learners may find our YouTube Channel and Instagram feed interesting.

You can email us at info@otherlab.com. We live in the old Schoenstein Organ Factory building in the heart of San Francisco's Mission district:

3101 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110"
sanfrancisco  engineering  robots  robotics  solar  wind  energy  manufacturing  otherlab  fabrication  computationalgeometry  saulgriffith  design  make  diy  innovation  tools 
may 2016 by robertogreco
I want to live in a baugruppe | Grist
"Eliason introduces baugruppen here. The basic idea is that a group of people comes together to work directly with architects and designers, bypassing developers, to build a shared dwelling that they own collectively (a co-op, basically). Taking developers out of the picture saves money — 25 to 30 percent in Berlin, where baugruppen are common — and opens up space for much more ambitious, innovative, and sustainable architecture. It also fosters cooperation and community among members of the collective.

In this post, Eliason notes that many jurisdictions (Freiburg, Tuebingen, Hamburg, and Berlin) recognize the benefits of baugruppen and structure public policy to encourage them. “There are a number of solid reasons why cities should be interested in stimulating and facilitating such undertakings,” he says. “Jobs, affordable housing within city limits, maintaining or expanding the tax base, and stimulating development of vacant/awkwardly shaped/smaller lots developers may see as too risky are just a few.”

This post covers why baugruppen tend to save money over conventional developer-driven projects. I like this in particular:
For me, the big point on cost-effectiveness is that a member gets a unit tailored to their specific needs — as well as desired communal spaces if space and budget allows. Developers don’t normally fine-tune projects like this, as it would add even more cost and time. Additionally, development projects tend to be directed towards the average user, whom they try to appeal to, however there are some notable exceptions to this, especially here in Seattle. But before a BG even brings on an architect (assuming there isn’t one already in the group) — they’ll have discussed the type of lifestyle they would like to live, the type of building they would like to dwell in. A bunch of musically-oriented families founding a BG? They might plan a rehearsal space as part of the common area. Older couples might want a co-owned guest unit they could let their friends or children stay in, thus keeping their unit smaller and more affordable. Want a say in what color your facade is? How about typical finishes in common areas? BGs can offer that level of communal authorship.

This post is about the innovative efficiency and sustainability measures popping up in baugruppen. This one is about the wide variety of sizes and styles among them. And this one is about the communities that form around them:
There are a number of ways baugruppen are formed — some are initiated by friends or acquaintances that already share a common bond or set of core values. Others need additional members, and declare a strong central concept (bikes only! DINKS ok! Intergenerational granola-loving families!), a rallying cry for those that may be interested in joining up. …

Once formed, a large amount of community buy-in must take place. To actually build a baugruppe is no small feat. Like co-housing, the design process of many baugruppen is driven by future tenants. Concepts, themes and ideas are developed, processes are formulated to move project planning forward. The land situation must be worked out. Architects work with the owners on the design — both groups bringing needs and constraints to the table. This is not usually the case with developer-initiated projects, but on the best projects, it is this close collaboration with clients that really drives success. There has to be consensus amongst the members to move forward, schedules have to be maintained. This is a process of give and take — actual democracy in action! Though the process may take more time (e.g. weekly meetings for up to and over a year) and definitely involves challenges (There should be bike storage! The stairs should be yellow!) — it seems like a great way to engage your future neighbors while formulating a building that meets your needs in a way other models can’t or won’t. Imagine having a say in whether or not your building would have a roof terrace, or how your building engages the public! Want to implement ecological and social requirements for a project? Then do it! How about prioritizing car-free living like in Vauban? Go for it! This process seems to induce a greater sense of pride, respect and sense of community than other models — perhaps owing to the greater degree of trust and respect garnered through the planning process.


All the posts are filled with specific examples (and photos) of baugruppen. Check them out.

As Eliason says, this mostly seems to be happening in Germany (which is way ahead on community energy projects too). But it sounds like exactly the kind of thing I have in mind. And I know I can’t be the only one who dreams of sustainable urban living, with a community and a home that reflect my values."
cohousing  germany  baugruppe  housing  architecture  cities  2013  energy  development  efficiency  sustainability  baugruppen 
december 2015 by robertogreco
What's in the UN Paris Climate Deal? - The Atlantic
"In some ways, the most hopeful news out of Paris—the new 1.5 degree goal—is also the least realistic. Recent science has indicated that warming to two degrees, still the stated international red line, might be catastrophic, creating mega-hurricanes and possibly halting the temperate jet stream which waters American and European farmland.

From that perspective, 1.5 degrees is an encouraging, ambitious goal. But it’s also a promise that costs negotiators nothing while indicating great moral seriousness.

Because here’s the thing: The math still doesn’t work. 2015 is the hottest year on measure. Because of the delay between when carbon enters the atmosphere and when it traps heat, we are nearly locked into nearly 1.5 degrees of warming already. Many thought the world would abandon the two degree target at Paris due to its impracticality.

In order to slide under the 1.5-degree target, global emissions have to peak in the next five or six years. (Emissions slowed this year, mostly due to China’s economic downturn, but they are expected to rise again soon as India adds industrial capacity.) The world has to completely stop emitting carbon around 2060. Can it be done?

Now we find out. If climate change worries you, think about not only how you vote, but also how you spend your civic attention and how you communicate your concern to policy-makers. Think too about how you’re supporting those already affected by it.

To my mind, climate is our great story. No other narrative envelopes all of humanity in quite the same way, forcing answers about the ethics of food, of oil, of technology, of economic security, of democratic republics and command capitalism, of colonialism and indigenous peoples, of who in the world is rich and who in the world is poor.

We live in the middle of history. Nations still bicker over borders, flaunt weapons of mass death, and abhor refugees in their midst. Today they tried, miraculously and inadequately, to care for their common good."
robinsonmeyer  climatechange  climate  policy  2015  capitalism  economics  oli  energy  borders  weapons  refugees  humanity  anthropocene  colonialism  decolonization  hope 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Refugee camps are the "cities of tomorrow", says aid expert
"Governments should stop thinking about refugee camps as temporary places, says Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world's leading authorities on humanitarian aid (+ interview).

"These are the cities of tomorrow," said Kleinschmidt of Europe's rapidly expanding refugee camps. "The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation."

"In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city," he told Dezeen.

Kleinschmidt said a lack of willingness to recognise that camps had become a permanent fixture around the world and a failure to provide proper infrastructure was leading to unnecessarily poor conditions and leaving residents vulnerable to "crooks".

"I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis," he said. "We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed."

Kleinschmidt, 53, worked for 25 years for the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in various camps and operations worldwide. He was most recently stationed in Zaatari in Jordan, the world's second largest refugee camp – before leaving to start his own aid consultancy, Switxboard.

He believes that migrants coming into Europe could help repopulate parts of Spain and Italy that have been abandoned as people gravitate increasingly towards major cities.

"Many places in Europe are totally deserted because the people have moved to other places," he said. "You could put in a new population, set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished neglected area."

Refugees could also stimulate the economy in Germany, which has 600,000 job vacancies and requires tens of thousands of new apartments to house workers, he said.

"Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost," he explained. "Building 300,000 affordable apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this!"

"It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis."

Kleinschmidt told Dezeen that aid organisations and governments needed to accept that new technologies like 3D printing could enable refugees and migrants to become more self-sufficient.

"With a Fab Lab people could produce anything they need – a house, a car, a bicycle, generating their own energy, whatever," he said.

His own attempts to set up a Zaatari Fab Lab – a workshop providing access to digital fabrication tools – have been met with opposition.

"That whole concept that you can connect a poor person with something that belongs to the 21st century is very alien to even most aid agencies," he said. "Intelligence services and so on from government think 'my god, these are just refugees, so why should they be able to do 3D-printing? Why should they be working on robotics?' The idea is that if you're poor, it's all only about survival."

"We have to get away from the concept that, because you have that status – migrant, refugee, martian, alien, whatever – you're not allowed to be like everybody else."

Read the edited transcript from our interview with Kilian Kleinschmidt:

Talia Radford: Why did you leave the UN?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I left the the UN to be as disruptive as possible, as provocative as possible, because within the UN of course there is certain discipline. I mean I was always the rebel.

Talia Radford: What is there to rebel about?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis. We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed.

In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city.

These are the cities of tomorrow. The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation. Let's look at these places as cities.

Talia Radford: Why aren't refugee camps flourishing into existing cities?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: It's down to the stupidity of the aid organisations, who prefer to waste money and work in a non-sustainable way rather than investing in making them sustainable.

Talia Radford: Why are people coming to Europe?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Everybody who is coming here right now is an economic migrant. They are not refugees. They were refugees in Jordan, but they are coming to Europe to study, to work, to have a perspective for their families. In the pure definition, it's a migration issue.

Right now everybody is going to Germany because in Germany they have 600,000 job vacancies. So of course there is an attraction, and there is space. Once the space is filled, nobody will go there anymore. They will go somewhere else.

Talia Radford: How do refugees – or economic migrants – know where to go? Via the media?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: No, it's all done through Whatsapp!

Talia Radford: What is the relationship between migration and technology?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Every Syrian refugee in the Zaatari camp has been watching Google self-driving cars moving around, so [they] don't believe the information only belongs to the rich people anymore.

We did studies in the Zaatari camp on communication. Everybody had a cellphone and 60 per cent had a smartphone. The first thing people were doing when they came across the border was calling back home to Syria and saying "hey we made it". So the big, big thing was to distribute Jordanian sim cards.

Once we had gotten over the riots over water and lots of other things that politicised the camp, the next big issue was internet connectivity.

Talia Radford: What are the infrastructure requirements of a mass influx of refugees?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The first is the logistics of accommodation: that's the survival bit. Everyone is struggling with this now, in reception centres, camps – every country in the world is dealing with this. Eighty-five to 90 per cent of any people on the move will be melting into the population so the real issue is how you deal with a sudden higher demand for accommodation.

Germany says that they suddenly need 300 to 400,000 affordable housing units more per year. It's about dealing with the structural issues, dealing with the increased population, and absorbing them into existing infrastructure.

Talia Radford: How do you see the refugee situation in Europe now?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The discussion in Germany is quite interesting, because they currently have 600,000 jobs to fill, but they are all in places where there is no housing. It's all in urban centres where they have forgotten to build apartments.

Half of east Germany is empty. Half of southern Italy is empty. Spain is empty. Many places in Europe are totally deserted.

You could redevelop some of these empty cities into free-trade zones where you would put in a new population and actually set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones, which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished, neglected area.

Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost. Building 300,000 apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this! It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis.

In Pakistan, in Jordan, they say "Oh no! These people are all going back in five minutes so we're not building any apartments for them! Put them in tents, put them in short-lived solutions." What they are losing is actually a real opportunity for progress, for change. They are losing an opportunity for additional resources, capacities, know-how.

Talia Radford: What other technologies have you dealt with in relation to refugees and migration?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Energy is the big one. Things are finally moving because of the energy storage, which we suddenly have with the Tesla batteries for instance. Decentralised production of energy is the way forward. Thirty per cent of the world's population does not have regular access to energy. We could see a mega, mega revolution. With little investment we can set up a solar-power plant that not only provides power to the entire camp, but can also be sold to the surrounding settlements.

And water. In the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Danish groundwater pump supplier Grundfos partnered with a water company and you now have a smart-water terminal in the slum, where with smart cards you can buy clean drinking water.

You buy your water from a safe location for a fraction of what the crooks of the water business in Nairobi would sell the water for. So suddenly it becomes affordable, it becomes safe, and you can manage the quantities yourself.

A lot of change is facilitated by mobile phones. No poor person has a bank account any more in Kenya. Everybody has an M-Pesa account on their mobile phone. All transactions are done with their mobile phone. They don't need banks. They pay their staff now with your mobile phone. You charge their M-Pesa account.

Talia Radford: Are any of these services being set up at refugee camps?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: At Zaatari, the UNHCR never planned to provide electricity for the households. So people took it themselves from the power lines running through the camp. Electricity means safety, it means social life, it means business. Big business! People were charging €30 per connection and more.

With a $3 million investment in pre-paid meters, you could have ensured every household would get a certain subsidised quantity of energy. The UNHCR didn't think it would have $3 million to invest in the equipment, and so it is spending a million dollars a month of taxpayers' money on an unmanaged electricity bill.

Talia Radford: You helped set up a Fab Lab… [more]
immigration  cities  humanitarianaid  urban  urbanism  kiliankleinschmidt  unhcr  zaatari  jordan  refugees  refugeecamps  switxboard  europe  germany  economics  españa  spain  italy  italia  fabricationtaliaradford  interviews  migration  employment  jobs  work  fablabs  safety  infrastructure  kenya  nairobi  kibera  grundfos  energy  decentralization  solarpower  solar  batteries  technology  pakistan  housing  homes  politics  policy  syria 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Race to renewable: five developing countries ditching fossil fuels | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian
"Costa Rica, Afghanistan, China, India and Albania are all embracing renewable energy sources – five experts give their opinion on what the future holds"
costarica  afghanistan  china  india  albania  energy  climatechange  fossilfuels  2015  environment  sustainability 
october 2015 by robertogreco
It’s Not Climate Change — It’s Everything Change — Matter — Medium
"Two writers have recently contributed some theorizing about overall social and energy systems and the way they function that may be helpful to us in our slowly unfolding crisis. One is from art historian and energetic social thinker Barry Lord; it’s called Art and Energy (AAM Press). Briefly, Lord’s thesis is that the kind of art a society makes and values is joined at the hip with the kind of energy that society depends on to keep itself going. He traces the various forms of energy we have known as a species throughout our pre-history — our millennia spent in the Pleistocene — and in our recorded history — sexual energy, without which societies can’t continue; the energy of the body while hunting and foraging; wood for fire; slaves; wind and water; coal; oil; and “renewables” — and makes some cogent observations about their relationship to art and culture. In his Prologue, he says:
Everyone knows that all life requires energy. But we rarely consider how dependent art and culture are on the energy that is needed to produce, practice and sustain them. What we fail to see are the usually invisible sources of energy that make our art and culture(s) possible and bring with them fundamental values that we are all constrained to live with (whether we approve of them or not). Coal brought one set of values to all industrialized countries; oil brought a very different set… I may not approve of the culture of consumption that comes with oil… but I must use [it] if I want to do anything at all.

Those living within an energy system, says Lord, may disapprove of certain features, but they can’t question the system itself. Within the culture of slavery, which lasted at least 5,000 years, nobody wanted to be a slave, but nobody said slavery should be abolished, because what else could keep things going?

Coal, says Lord, produced a culture of production: think about those giant steel mills. Oil and gas, once they were up and running, fostered a culture of consumption. Lord cites “the widespread belief of the 1950s and early ’60s in the possibility of continuing indefinitely with unlimited abundance and economic growth, contrasted with the widespread agreement today that both that assumption and the world it predicts are unsustainable.” We’re in a transition phase, he says: the next culture will be a culture of “stewardship,” the energy driving it will be renewables, and the art it produces will be quite different from the art favored by production and consumption cultures.

What are the implications for the way we view both ourselves and the way we live? In brief: in the coal energy culture — a culture of workers and production — you are your job. “I am what I make.” In an oil and gas energy culture — a culture of consumption — you are your possessions. “I am what I buy.” But in a renewable energy culture, you are what you conserve. “I am what I save and protect.” We aren’t used to thinking like this, because we can’t see where the money will come from. But in a culture of renewables, money will not be the only measure of wealth. Well-being will factor as an economic positive, too.

The second book I’ll mention is by anthropologist, classical scholar, and social thinker Ian Morris, whose book, Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve, has just appeared from Princeton University Press. Like Barry Lord, Morris is interested in the link between energy-capture systems and the cultural values associated with them, though in his case it’s the moral values, not only the aesthetic ones — supposing these can be separated — that concern him. Roughly, his argument runs that each form of energy capture favors values that maximize the chance of survival for those using both that energy system and that package of moral values. Hunter-gatherers show more social egalitarianism, wealth-sharing, and more gender equality than do farmer societies, which subordinate women — men are favored, as they must do the upper-body-strength heavy lifting — tend to practice some form of slavery, and support social hierarchies, with peasants at the low end and kings, religious leaders, and army commanders at the high end. Fossil fuel societies start leveling out gender inequalities — you don’t need upper body strength to operate keyboards or push machine buttons — and also social distinctions, though they retain differences in wealth.

The second part of his argument is more pertinent to our subject, for he postulates that each form of energy capture must hit a “hard ceiling,” past which expansion is impossible; people must either die out or convert to a new system and a new set of values, often after a “great collapse” that has involved the same five factors: uncontrolled migration, state failure, food shortages, epidemic disease, and “always in the mix, though contributing in unpredictable ways–- climate change.” Thus, for hunting societies, their way of life is over once there are no longer enough large animals to sustain their numbers. For farmers, arable land is a limiting factor. The five factors of doom combine and augment one another, and people in those periods have a thoroughly miserable time of it, until new societies arise that utilize some not yet exhausted form of energy capture.

And for those who use fossil fuels as their main energy source — that would be us, now — is there also a hard ceiling? Morris says there is. We can’t keep pouring carbon into the air — nearly 40 billion tons of CO2 in 2013 alone — without the consequences being somewhere between “terrible and catastrophic.” Past collapses have been grim, he says, but the possibilities for the next big collapse are much grimmer.

We are all joined together globally in ways we have never been joined before, so if we fail, we all fail together: we have “just one chance to get it right.” This is not the way we will inevitably go, says he, though it is the way we will inevitably go unless we choose to invent and follow some less hazardous road.

But even if we sidestep the big collapse and keep on expanding at our present rate, we will become so numerous and ubiquitous and densely packed that we will transform both ourselves and our planet in ways we can’t begin to imagine. “The 21st century, he says, “shows signs of producing shifts in energy capture and social organization that dwarf anything seen since the evolution of modern humans.”"
climate  climatechange  culture  art  society  margaretatwood  2015  cli-fi  sciefi  speculativefiction  designfiction  capitalism  consumerism  consumption  energy  fossilfuels  canon  barrylord  coal  anthropology  change  changemaking  adaptation  resilience  ianmorris  future  history  industrialization  egalitarianism  collapse  humans  biodiversity  agriculture  emissions  environment  sustainability  stewardship  renewableenergy  making  production  makers  materialism  evolution  values  gender  inequality  migration  food  transitions  hunter-gatherers 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Watch: Satellite time lapse reveals humanity's global footprint - Vox
"[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNQ9z_Eb-Jc ]

In the 1970s, some forward-thinking NASA scientists put an Earth-observing satellite into orbit. At an altitude of 570 miles, it photographed the entire planet every 18 days, circling Earth 14 times a day and sending the data back to ground stations.

Forty years later, this satellite and its successors have created the longest continuous record of our planet's surface. By stringing the images together, NASA and the US Geological Survey have shown how rapidly and how profoundly humans are changing the face of Earth.

[gif]

In this time lapse showing the massive growth of Las Vegas, vegetation appears red because the images were partially gathered through infrared sensors. Golf courses and lawns jump out, foretelling the city's water scarcity problems. Off of Lake Mead an artificial lake appears in the 1990s, and developments form alongside it. This is Lake Las Vegas, where Celine Dion lives.

Check out the video above to see what 40 years of satellite imagery reveal about humanity's global footprint.

Read more: 15 before-and-after images that show how we're transforming the planet"
satelliteimagery  via:vruba  anthropocene  nasa  geology  geography  2015  energy  defoestation  envionment  earth  urbansprawl  wateruse  aralsea  lasvegas  brazil  brasil  climatechange  wyoming 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis Esquire Essay - Warren Ellis Technology Column
"Regardless of what you think of Uber and its corporate behavior, the lesson should not go unlearned: If you build your business on top of someone else's system, eventually they're going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

In the midst of all this? Rich, crazy Elon Musk, who intends to put large and efficient electric batteries into people's homes. Which may not be one of his weird side projects, like Hyperloop, especially since Apple is hiring his car-makers away, and their car sales and shipments are under the projected numbers. And because it fits right in with the "disruption" thing. You know Musk has a solar panel company, right? This seems quite clever: SolarCity will let you lease their panels, or you can take out a 30-year loan with them. SolarCity doesn't charge you for installing or maintaining the system, and you pay SolarCity for the power the system generates, thereby paying off the loan. Electricity as a mortgage. Now, combine that with a rechargeable fuel cell in your home that could probably power your house for at least a week all on its own. Welcome to Basic Utilities Disruption.

Have you been reading this and thinking, Hmm, I'm not very interested in technology and disruption and ghosts and whatever else the hell you're talking about? Well, I bet you're interested in a future where it remains cost-effective for your local electricity substations to be maintained even after a critical number of homes in your area have gone off the grid, or, in the extreme open-market scenario, if it remains cost-effective to even supply electricity to your town at all. And what unforeseeable haunting might happen in the chilly aftermath...

We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don't want our businesses. Yet.

Facebook and Google fighting with balloons and drones to bring internet to Africa. Apple making Big Phones. Android NFC wallets versus Apple Pay. iCloud and Amazon Storage. You know what'll happen once these self-driving consumer-facing services go online? They'll be doing same-day purchase deliveries, going head-to-head with Amazon in cities, a fuller and faster version of Google's piloted Shopping Express. Jeff Bezos owns a rocket development firm, by the way, so maybe go carefully with that. Oh, and Apple apparently want into enterprise support business, which will put them against Amazon, where all the enterprise data is stored, and, of course, sleepy, old Microsoft.

Keep breathing. Stay warm. Things are going to get weirder yet."
warrenellis  2015  elonmusk  tesla  energy  publicutilities  utilities  solar  apple  google  microsoft  amazon  facebook  uber  technology  capitalism  competition  electricity  batteries  cars  self-drivingcars  solarcity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
UC Berkeley professor designs bricks that could replace air-conditioning | DailyCal.org
"UC Berkeley associate professor of architecture Ronald Rael and former professor Virginia San Fratello succeeded in designing 3-D “cool bricks,” a device that could potentially replace air-conditioning systems in hot, arid climates.

Working with their team in Emerging Objects, co-founders Rael and San Fratello have developed porous ceramic bricks set in mortar. The bricks were inspired by a Mascatese cooling window — which consists of a wooden screen and ceramic vessel filled with water — that Rael encountered in one of his research trips.

“We look for ways of how traditional systems can be incorporated into contemporary lifestyles,” Rael said.

Rael was inspired to develop ways to create a water screen out of ceramic instead of wood so that it could be more applicable to current uses.

With the help of Tethon3D — a 3-D ceramic printing company based in Omaha, Nebraska — Rael further developed the right materials that could optimize evaporative cooling technology.

“We collaborated to make the design printable, as well as economical,” said Tethon3D co-founder and president Karen Linder in an email. Tethon3D made the cool bricks with a 3-D printer loaded with dry clay powder and a liquid binder in the shape of the desired model.

According to Rael, the brick is designed with a porous, lattice-like structure, which allows air to flow through it. The process is simple: Like a sponge, the bricks absorb water vapor, which evaporates when it makes contact with warm air. Warm air that passes through the micropores is cooled, ultimately decreasing the entire room temperature.

The cool bricks are not yet ready to be used commercially. The Emerging Objects team, however, is looking ahead toward commercial and humanitarian applications. With further developments, the bricks, which are able to interlock, can be stacked together to potentially create a wall or even an entire house.

Calling it a “less energy-intensive way to humidify air,” Rael said he envisions the bricks being implemented both near and far from home: in the southwestern deserts of the United States, in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Arabian Desert and even in parts of China.

Rael said questions still remain unsolved, however, such as where windows could be located to maximize the amount of air that passes through the bricks, where the water would come from and whether UV rays can be used to prevent mold from forming in the bricks.

The 3-D cool bricks can be seen at Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth, a public exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, until April 19."
2015  bricks  construction  energy  efficiency  sustainability  ronaldrael  virginiasanfratello  ceramics  insulation  cooling 
march 2015 by robertogreco
CINEMA OUT OF THE BOX! ‹ MIRL
"Cinema Out of the Box is a project to develop practical tools for a mobile cinema. Today, our media is defined by mobility, and for some, this means that a ‘cinematic specificity’ has been lost.  On the contrary, the new mobility of cinema (portable devices, such as our laptop screens) means that we can have ‘cinematic experiences’ in new and unexpected ways.  Many filmmakers and performers are experimenting with this. Our project proposes to do three things: 1) design portable infrastructure for a mobile cinema that can take the capacity to project audiovisual materials anywhere: on campus in unexpected locations, up the mountain, in the pool, and beyond 2) develop a year long screening series experimenting with the potential of this new mobility and 3) find the most ecological and sustainable ways to equip our cinema, focusing in this first year on the potential for bicycle powered generators, low energy projectors, and passive sound amplification."
projectors  projection  energy  humanpowered  mobile  mobility  cinema  film  environment  power  portability  bikes  biking 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Want to get conservatives to save energy? Stop the environmentalist preaching - The Washington Post
"In the end, then, perhaps the best way to think about ideology and energy use is this: Nobody is against efficiency or lower bills. Nobody is for waste. Nobody hates the environment.

But environmental and energy issues are nevertheless wrapped up in politics, which makes conservation, overall, less of a “safe” space for conservatives, according to Renee Lertzman, who works with Brand Cool as Director of Insight and is a consultant on climate change communications. Conservatives often feel “ambivalent” about the topic, she says, pulled in different directions — and liberal assumptions don’t help.

“A lot of people I interviewed felt very offended that they were often assumed to be not caring, they felt very insulted and patronized, because of their choices, and I really felt for that,” Lertzman says. “I felt, it would be so important to convey to people, we know you really do care. And that itself, as a starting off point, would be very powerful.”"

[See also:

“The next energy revolution won’t be in wind or solar. It will be in our brains.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/22/the-next-energy-revolution-wont-be-in-wind-or-solar-it-will-be-in-our-brains/

“Why 50 million smart meters still haven’t fixed America’s energy habits”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/29/americans-are-this-close-to-finally-understanding-their-electricity-bills/ ]
energy  environment  sustainability  environmentalism  waste  2015  garbage  trash  solar  wind  psychology  politics  preaching  meters  measurement  behavior  us  society 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
"Would any sane PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption — changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much — and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect?Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption — residential, by private car, and so on — is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one — if we avidly participate in the industrial economy — we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world — none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem — and this is another big one — is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned — Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States — who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems."
via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environment  sustainability  environmentalism  derrickjensen  capitalism  consumerism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  consumption  kirckpatricksale  waste  simplicity  politics  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  activism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  systemsthinking  systems  misdirection  2009  policy  organization  civilization  individualism  collectivism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mongolian nomads: Ambitious program uses solar panels to connect region’s 800,000 nomads to the grid.
"An ambitious program is bringing modern tech to Mongolia’s 800,000-strong nomadic population."



"Before the program, about 90 percent of nomads relied on candles, coal, and yak dung to light and heat their homes, shelling out more than the cost of a solar panel in the space of a few years for smoky and inefficient power. Just over half managed to power a phone or radio with a diesel generator or motorcycle battery, draining more of their meager budgets. In cutting down on energy costs and increasing availability, the solar panel program freed up cash, creating a brand new industry of small appliance providers in the countryside. The industry is so robust that now 70 percent of nomads have a color TV and satellite dish and 90 percent are hooked into a mobile phone network.

Those mobile phones and televisions, in turn, have hooked nomads for the first time into the information superhighway. Gaaj now has access to weather reports and makes phone calls to markets to manage his livestock, keeping more animals alive and fetching a higher price for their wool, milk, and meat. His phone allows him to stay connected with young family members attending boarding school in the towns and to seek out medical advice from distant clinics."



"Many nomads believe that the power of mines, 90 percent of the national economy today, allows mineral extractors and developers to flout laws protecting the forests, water reservoirs, and grazing grounds vital to nomads from degradation.

The sense of encroachment made national heroes out of four nomads who, in 2010, opened fire with their old hunting rifles on an empty mining camp and, the next year, organized a 100-man horseback demonstration in Ulaanbaatar, firing arrows at the Government House. In 2013 President Tsakhia Elbegdorj won his second term on a platform of tighter foreign mining controls. And even with these boosts to the rural economy, more than 800,000 Mongols, many of them nomads, still live below the national poverty line.

Their way of life is under threat, and they have not achieved parity with their urban kin. Some contend that these forces are breeding a nascent anti-mining, pro-traditionalist eco-terror movement. Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, one of those who fired on the mines, and his Gal Undesten movement now stand accused of planting bombs outside government buildings in 2013. “We are a small group of simple herders fighting powerful people,” Munkhbayar told a New Zealand journalist in 2011. “It’s not an easy fight but we cannot stand by idly and watch our land and way of life come to an end.”

But Gaaj is a savvy and entrepreneurial man. He has the tools to utilize his wits and to sustain his family without just scraping by now. The flimsy tinfoil-looking contraption outside his ger is enough of a lifeline to stand on and fight from, and that’s worth something out in the brutal emptiness of the steppe."
mongolia  nomads  2015  technology  solar  markhay  electricity  energy  television  mobile  phones 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Official Website of Virunga National Park - The Virunga Alliance
"Born of a Congolese commitment to the protection of Virunga National Park, the Virunga Alliance aims to foster peace and prosperity through the responsible economic development of natural resources for four million people who live within a day’s walk of the park’s borders.

A minimum of 30% of the park’s revenues is invested in community development projects. These projects are defined by the community and are based on the principle of free and informed consultation with civil society groups.

Virunga Alliance is the intersection of civil society, private sector and state institutions working together toward sustainable development goals in eastern Congo. Virunga Alliance will deliver large-scale opportunities to tens of thousands of Congolese men and women who are ready to rebuild the region and redefine the country’s future.

We propose a three-phase approach and identify four main sectors for development, including Energy, Tourism, Agro-Industry, Sustainable Fisheries, and Infrastructure."
virunga  parks  africa  congo  drc  sustainability  fisheries  agriculture  tourism  energy  infrastructure  economics  development 
january 2015 by robertogreco
A New Classroom That Produces More Energy Than It Consumes | WIRED
[See also: http://andersonanderson.com/2013/02/01/energy-positive-portable-classroom/ ]

"Creating an energy positive building is a give and take of inputs and outputs. The key to sustainability isn’t just producing more energy—the smartest (and cheapest) way to go about it is to reduce the amount of energy used in the first place. “The assumption is to achieve a net zero building, you have to get as many solar panels on there as you can,” says Anderson. But right now, energy conservation is cheaper than production.

The classroom does use roof solar panels to generate energy, though the roof’s saw-tooth shape helps to that end. The slating, jagged design is often referred to as a factory roof, deriving from its use in the design of factories more than a century ago. With north-facing windows, this roof shape is particularly efficient at capturing daylight, and paired with lower-lying windows too, it provides ventilation for hot air to escape. Not to mention a good way to shed rain water. Before electricity was widespread, these roofs were the main way massive factories could get both light and ventilation. It fell out of favor, replaced by flat roofs, once electricity became cheaper, but Anderson says it’s still a remarkably effective design. “It’s a reminder some of those things were there for very good reasons,” he says.

Every window in the classroom opens and closes, which means the amount of airflow is endlessly adjustable. It’s also more expensive. Anderson says sustainability often comes with a hefty initial price tag that pays for itself in the following years and decades. “We’ve typically been shortsighted,” he says. At this point, the classroom is really just a laboratory of sorts. It’s undergoing a two year testing period where every aspect of the structure will be monitored, tracked and quantified to see how well the it compares to its projected computer modeling.

If it works according to plan, the energy-producing building isn’t just good news for the school itself. It’s easy to imagine if you get enough of these networked classrooms built, you could offset less efficient structures on the school campus, perhaps with enough spillover energy to account for transportation and entire surrounding neighborhoods. That’s in the future, of course. And it will be a major challenge for locations less idyllic than Hawaii. But it’s an exciting vision nonetheless, and one Anderson thinks we should be actively working toward. “In some ways, the emphasis the world has on net zero is unfortunate,” he says. “It’s not enough for net zero to be the goal—we have to look at the bigger picture.”"
schooldesign  education  schools  design  energy  architecture  2014  andersonanderson  sustainability  environment  light  hawaii 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Goddess of the Rainbow — My brain has been buzzing with ‘How did Solarpunk...
"My brain has been buzzing with ‘How did Solarpunk come to be?’ I think it started in two ways, with the people who had loads of money and the people who had none.

The poor started to live in a more sustainable way because it’s cheaper. They insulated their homes, used passive energy practices and collected solar energy because the power company was extortionate, collected rain-water and used grey-water because the city water was metered and the utility company was charging for every drop, they grew food because produce at the supermarket was unaffordable. Recycling, re-purposing, re-using are all cheaper then buying brand new. An earthship home can be built using trash which they can get for free and build themselves with the help of friends and family. Getting together with your neighbors and helping each other means you can save on childcare, medical care (community clinics and home remedies), education (workshops, sharing knowledge and informal apprenticeships), you can swap good and services instead of paying for them. It’s a much cheaper way of living, but doing it all low-tech and on a shoestring means that there’s a lot of drudgery involved and while they have become more resource rich they have become time-poor.

The rich started to live in a more sustainable way because they could just hand over the cash and then feel good about themselves. There’s exciting, cutting edge, sustainable tech being created but it’s beyond the price range of the poor and even the middle class. The rich start living in sustainable, multi-use, skyscrapers with aquaponic farms and sky gardens. They fill their homes with furniture hand crafted from plantation timber (carbon credits, to offset the mileage of import, built into the price), lovely antiques (hey that’s re-using) and brand new items made with 90% recycled materials. They fork over more and more money to the people inventing, producing and maintaining sustainable tech. The oil barons fall and sustainability tzars rise. But they’re disconnected from their tech, they didn’t make it, so when things break down they either have to pay ever greater amounts to the tzars to fix it or they have to replace it which isn’t really sustainable at all. And they’re disconnected from each other, not needing to go out because their homes produce everything they need and social media brings the world to them.

This is where the two classes look to each other. The poor see that some of that tech could reduce their drudgery and give them leisure time. The rich see that the poor are inventive, resourceful and can find ways to repair or work around anything; they have close-knit communities who share and problem-solve to make everyone’s lives better. So trade begins, tech for ideas. It starts with just the rich hiring the poor to fix thing but it grows into so much more. The rich give the poor the means to free up their time and the poor teach the rich how to live closer to their resources and get their hand dirty. This mixing is especially popular with the young. Young people have always loved new ideas and breaking social barriers, and they lead the charge in the merging of these two societies. They share music and art and fashion. They look to the past for inspiration and re-invent Art Nouveau - it starts as a fad but is soon embraced by everyone. Community forms, with different groups coming together to solve problems and share ideas. As the young people become adults there is intermarriage and children are born who grow up in both worlds. Then the next generation is born into a world where the divide has all but disappeared, the two societies have merged to a point where you can only see the echoes of how they started.

A vibrant culture of people who live everyday with extremely high tech but who still get their hands in the dirt is realized."

[See also: http://meraina.tumblr.com/post/98140608992/so-ive-had-an-idea ]

[both via: http://oddhack.tumblr.com/post/99066049686 ]
solarpunk  sustainability  2014  technology  class  leisure  artleisure  community  socialmedia  time  energy  repurposing  reuse  recycling  frugality  efficiency  slow  leisurearts 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Splendid Vagabond: VERY QUICKLY
VERY QUICKLY

[Post peak oil resilient communities]

+ [low-energy computing]

+ [internet of things]

+ [adaptation of past technologies]

---------------

SOLARPUNK.
solarpunk  resilience  peakoil  technology  adaptation  internetofthings  energy  efficiency  iot 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Solarpunk was born (and went to sleep) in 19th C. France $SCTY $SPWR $SUNE $FSLR $CSIQ $TAN | Rooster360
"Could a Solarpunk age have been born in 19th century France?

The world’s first photovoltaic cells were created by 19 year old Edmond Becquerel in 1839. Tinkering in his father’s lab, young Becquerel put silver chloride in an acidic solution, which was illuminated while connected to platinum electrodes, creating voltage and a current. The photovoltaic effect has also been known as the “Becquerel effect” courtesy of this jeune homme. (Footnote: Becquerel’s subsequent research on light would help to substantiate work by another 19th century pioneer in electromagnetism, Michael Faraday.)

About a generation after Becquerel’s discovery, Augustin Mouchot, a French math teacher, helped to create in the 1860s what may have been the first government funded solar power venture. Courtesy of funds from Napoleon III (who may have been worthier than any King Louis for the sobriquet of “Sun King”) Mouchot developed solar powered steam engines, leading to the world’s first solar power farm in what was French Algeria. Alas the prospects of the birth of a carbon free age were put on hold, courtesy of a French government report about recent efficiencies in coal mining and a free trade pact, the Cobden-Chevaliar treaty, with the United Kingdom.

Interrupted by macro-events, such as the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and free trade with the UK, the first Solar Age was prematurely born and went into coma, slowly awakening upon an announcement by Bell Labs in 1954 that it had developed solar cells with 6% efficiency. The New York Times trumpeted the promise of the “limitless energy of the sun” but it was still early days.

Coal would be supplanted by petroleum, as solar bided its time, apparently relegated to the roofs of homebuilding mavericks, progressive communes, research labs and science fairs.

Here we are 150-plus years after Becquerel, and cutting edge solar cells are at about 45% efficiency and climbing, albeit within the coddled R&D environment or for high end deep pocket situations for NASA’s needs in outer space, but those Frenchmen may yet have the last laugh by the 200th anniversary of Becquerel’s discovery with a solar power renaissance."
solarpunk  history  energy  edmondbecquerel  1839  augustinmouchot 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Land of Masks and Jewels, Here’s a thing I’ve had around in my head for a...
"Here’s a thing I’ve had around in my head for a while!

Okay, so I’m pretty sure that by now everyone at least is aware of Steampunk, with it’s completely awesome Victorian sci-fi aesthetic. But what I want to see is Solarpunk – a plausible near-future sci-fi genre, which I like to imagine as based on updated Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Edwardian aesthetics, combined with a green and renewable energy movement to create a world in which children grow up being taught about building electronic tech as well as food gardening and other skills, and people have come back around to appreciating artisans and craftspeople, from stonemasons and smithies, to dress makers and jewelers, and everyone in between. A balance of sustainable energy-powered tech, environmental cities, and wicked cool aesthetics.

A lot of people seem to share a vision of futuristic tech and architecture that looks a lot like an ipod – smooth and geometrical and white. Which imo is a little boring and sterile, which is why I picked out an Art Nouveau aesthetic for this.

With energy costs at a low, I like to imagine people being more inclined to focus their expendable income on the arts!

Aesthetically my vision of solarpunk is very similar to steampunk, but with electronic technology, and an Art Nouveau veneer.

So here are some buzz words~

Natural colors!
Art Nouveau!
Handcrafted wares!
Tailors and dressmakers!
Streetcars!
Airships!
Stained glass window solar panels!!!
Education in tech and food growing!
Less corporate capitalism, and more small businesses!
Solar rooftops and roadways!
Communal greenhouses on top of apartments!
Electric cars with old-fashioned looks!
No-cars-allowed walkways lined with independent shops!
Renewable energy-powered Art Nouveau-styled tech life!

Can you imagine how pretty it would be to have stained glass windows everywhere that are actually solar panels? The tech is already headed in that direction! Or how about wide-brim hats, or parasols that are topped with discreet solar panel tech incorporated into the design, with ports you can stick your phone charger in to?

(((Character art by me; click the cityscape pieces to see artist names)))"

[See also: http://missolivialouise.tumblr.com/tagged/solarpunk-tag ]
solarpunk  solar  futures  art  future  artnoveau  craft  make  makers  making  steampunk  victorian  nearfuture  sciencefiction  scifi  energy  edwardian  sustainability  2014 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Buckets with holes
"Buckets come as they are, and they do one thing--they hold things. Everything, actually.

In these parts they're generally made of plastic, the residual order of plants that took in the sunshine unfathomably long ago. (Oh, I could give you a number with a lot of zeroes, but let's be honest, none of us beyond the Feynmans and the Einsteins know how big a few hundred million truly is.)

Most of the buckets in my home were likely made in China, because it's cheaper to make them there than here, even with the cost of shipping. I used to work on the docks. I've been in the hold of very big ships. If the ship is big enough, it can carry enough buckets to make shipping costs almost negligible.

But someone making a bucket in China, a long, long away, cannot possibly know why I need this particular bucket today.

But I do. So I modify it.

***

I bottled a bucket's worth of mead today. Eric, who loves my daughter Kerry, keeps a couple of hives in Montclair. He gave me a gallon of honey from his hive. A gallon of honey weighs about 12 pounds, a gallon of water about 8 pounds. There's a lot of stuff in honey that's not water.

Each pound of honey took over 50,000 miles of bee flight, so my melomel took the better part of a million miles of flight to make. Millions of yeast critters took the honey and converted it into mead--those surviving now sit in my compost pile in the backyard. I said a prayer for them, or maybe I said it for me, but I prayed anyway, because something good happened to me that I did not deserve.

My mead bucket has a 3/4" hole drilled near the bottom, so I can put in a plastic spigot (also made in China) that lets me drain the fermented mead in a controlled fashion.

***

I clam. Every couple of weeks I get enough meat from the mudflats around here to feed Leslie and me for a few days. I pray for the clams, too, as I drop them into scalding water. I have no idea what they feel, but I know what I do, and praying helps.

My clam bucket has about a hundred tiny holes drilled in the bottom. I used an electric drill.

The power to drill the holes came from Beesley's Point Generating Station a few miles north of here. It burns coal (made from old plants, but not as old as those that made the plastic for my bucket). It also uses old tires, made from rubber plants likely alive in my lifetime.

And yes, I think of these things as I muddle through my day.
I pray a lot.

***

I teach biology. Our desires change all the time, but our needs are the same as they have been for millenia.

Our needs come down to the stuff of plants, of yeast, of love. Most of what we need I'll never understand, but I teach a very human process that gets us closer to understanding the infinite every day.

But, of course, the infinite can never be understood.

So I pray…"
michaeldoyl  2014  systems  systemsthinking  prayer  supplychains  materials  clamming  energy  networks  zoominginandout  process  everyday  complexity 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Frackman
"Frack Man is hungry for fossil fuel to frack for cash. Steer him through the earth using the UP arrow key to seek out shale rocks that he can frack for gas. Avoid the water, tunnel past the beds of shale rock and press SPACE to frack them. But beware... fracking up the world has unexpected consequences. Look out overhead for subsiding landscapes that'll cost you fracked cash; and if you frack the water supply it's pretty much GAME OVER.

Press SPACE to start"
fracking  games  seriousgames  gaming  energy  oil 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Demons by Candelight
"I grew up with frequent power outages and load-shedding, especially during the summer time. Dark evenings without power were a special time for children. The candle-lit hours on porches and balconies were a strange mix of an ethereal kind of intimacy, beckoning darkness, and thoughts that retreated from both sunlight and electric lights.

You could do nothing useful during those hours. There was no TV or radio. Reading was difficult. Candle-lit meals tended to be either quick, simple affairs whipped up in semi-darkness, or leftovers. Families who turned the blacked-out evenings into family time generally sat out on the porch. Adults would use the time to tell family stories to children. Teenagers and some couples would stroll up and down the street, occasionally stopping to chat with neighbors. Younger kids would run around squealing and playing, seemingly possessed by the strange euphoria-inducing forces leaking in from another world. Or they would huddle together and try to scare each other with ghost stories.

Even back then, having never experienced cold northern climates, I instinctively knew that the Scottish word fey, born of cold foggy highlands, and which I had only encountered in books, was somehow the right word for the charged pre-Monsoon summer air around me."

***

To a great extent, our existence is framed by the kinds of light that illuminate it. The work/life balance is really a sunlight/electricity balance. Half our waking hours are framed by sunlight, the other half by electric lighting.

If the medium is the message, the message of sunlight is survival and work. Despite emerging lore around hacker all-nighters and owl-work, we are not a nocturnal species, or anywhere close to becoming one. We conduct our affairs in the harsh and unforgiving light of the sun. Sunlight is much too valuable to waste on non-essentials, so it is a light that keeps our mind on practical details. Even apparent leisure activities have a plugged-in-and-present quality to them, with a clearly definable value proposition that can be linked to survival. We save our slow strolls for sunrises and sunsets. Exercise in broad daylight is vigorous and energetic; for health.

The message of electricity-powered evenings on the other hand, is one of active and practical reflection, of learning from our own lives and the lives of others, through television and the Internet in particular. We review our own game-tapes, in solitude or in conversation. We take in and discuss news of distant wars and local traffic accidents, integrating them into the backdrop of our own stories.

Where work leaks into the night, it tends to be the heroic component. Programming or writing sessions driven by the steady energy of flow conditions. Or heavy-lift efforts to conquer piled-up mountains of tax paperwork. The banalities of life — calling customer support, going to the post office, holding meetings — those are for sunlight hours.

But candlelight hours enforced by blackouts are neither sunlit nor electrically lit. Candlelight is a light of disconnection and isolation; of forced intimacy and reflections easily avoided at other times. Of forced sensory presence in the here-now, rather than a sought-out and self-imposed retreat from life.

It is the difference being wanting to learn to swim and being dumped unceremoniously into the deep end. For adults unused to radical disconnection, candlelight can bring forth more lurking horrors than the supernatural imaginings of children.

Such people, unable to handle ascetic slowness for even a couple of hours, buy generators."



"I learned recently that our ancestors did not sleep as we did. Before street-lighting (first oil and gas, then electric) became common in the 1800s, apparently humans tended to sleep in two sessions, eight hours spread across two sessions within a twelve hour period between sunset and sunrise. Between first and second sleep, people apparently lived a third life that was distinct from the work of daylight between dawn and dusk, and the life of evenings until first bed-time.

I suspect the period between first and second sleep was something like what we experience today during blackouts. The link above mentions several interesting things about the period, and references a few books I plan to read."



"Stillness is the third space between spaces of action and reflection. A space that vanishes if life becomes too frictionless and reliably provisioned."



"Stillness is the other side of sacredness, the experience and contemplation of transience, letting go and irreversible loss. The practice of accommodating emptiness. In the presence of the demons who represent the work of our lives that must be done before we are done."



"There is a new kind of stillness creeping back into our lives. The dim glow of smartphone screens is more like candle light than electricity or sunlight. It is a warm bubble of connected hyper-intimacy we carry around with us through both days and evenings.

Sometimes, when I look up from my smartphone and unplug momentarily from Facebook and Twitter, I get the same sense of unreal other-worldliness that I used to get looking out at the urban landscape of a blackout.

Darkness is a relative thing after all. Even the brightest-lit scene seems dark when you become sensitized to what you’re not seeing. Walking about, glancing up from the small screen, I realize that I am surrounded by darkness. People whose lives are opaque to me. Trees I know nothing about until I try to identify them on Wikipedia. Docked ships with invisible stories attached, which I cannot see unless I look up a ship-tracking site. And somewhere in the universe of unexplored information, lurking demons of our digital selves who can wander invisibly even in the brightest sunlight, stewards of debts we did not know we were accumulating.

The demons of our smartphone lights are perhaps more powerful than the demons of candle light. Because until recently, we weren’t even aware they existed.

Now we do. We know they’re out there. We know they represent unrecognized debts to ourselves. More work-of-life items for our to-do lists. And that, I suppose, is what makes the age of the Internet a new kind of enlightenment.

The light of smartphones is a weak one today. It is not always on or all-powerful in relation to the universe of digital information, the way electric lighting is in relation to physical darkness. Using a smartphone feels like using a flashlight during a blackout. I often hop back and forth between offline and online worlds, googling birds and ships I spot, restaurants I walk by. Soon, I suppose, I’ll learn more about people I see through my AR glasses, whenever those become cheap enough for me to buy. Those will perhaps be the electric bulbs of our time, replacing the smartphone candles we stumble about with today.

Much of the darkness being lifted today only reveals a world of new banalities. But hidden among those there are new debts to fill moments of stillness.

When augmented reality finally hits our world in earnest, another layer of darkness will be peeled away. Demons that lurk today in the darkness of smartphone-level connectedness will retreat.

And we will come to cherish newer kinds of unexpected and unscheduled darkness."
death  darkness  light  venkateshrao  2014  candlelight  history  energy  electricity  sleep  community  technology  stillness  blackouts  consciousness  slow 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine
"WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems. "
activism  consumerism  consumption  environment  politics  derrickjensen  2009  systems  systemsthinking  policy  simplicity  organization  civilization  sustainability  individualism  collectivism  via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environmentalism  capitalism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  kirckpatricksale  waste  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  misdirection 
march 2014 by robertogreco
New! Carbon Footprint Maps | CoolClimate Network
"Interactive carbon footprint maps from the CoolClimate Calculator. Find out how you compare to local averages and create a personalized climate action plan for you or your community. See info on recent Jones and Kammen paper and FAQ below.

Average Annual Household Carbon Footprint by Zip Code
Average Household Energy Carbon Footprint by Zip Code
Average Vehicle Miles Traveled by Zip Code"

[via: http://ucresearch.tumblr.com/post/73463951301/coolclimateucbmaps ]
data  energy  maps  cars  climate  carbonfootprint  2014  us  mapping 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | A New Project from Orion
"Once a point of national pride and identity, America’s infrastructure is showing its age. Even in their heyday, the big infrastructure projects of the past were not always mindful of the communities in which they were built, nor did they reflect or respect the realities of life on a finite planet.

But this is a finite planet, and many communities are imagining new systems and structures for transportation, food, water, waste, energy, and information. In the process, they’re creating new, more beautiful, more resilient public works.

Welcome to Reimagining Infrastructure, a new series from Orion exploring infrastructure solutions for the next generation."
orionmagazine  infrastructure  environment  sustainability  2013  2014  erikhoffner  rownjacobsen  cynthiabarnett  rosemclarney  jeffreyharrison  peterbrewitt  hemersonblake  writing  poetry  essays  systems  systemsthinking  food  water  waste  energy  information  publicworks 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Thingful
[via: "Thingful indexes public #IoT resources incl weather stations, air quality, energy & sharks, icebergs, buoys, etc." https://twitter.com/uah/status/411236605169389568

and "Thingful http://thingful.net is now live - a discoverability engine for the Public Internet of Things, announced at #thingmonk last week" https://twitter.com/uah/status/411231793225142273 ]
internetofthings  thingful  internet  sensors  data  weather  weatherstations  airquality  energy  icebergs  buoys  sharks  iot 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Tomgram: Todd Gitlin, Climate Change as a Business Model | TomDispatch
"Transforming the world is something like winning a war. If the objective is to eliminate a condition like hunger, mass violence, or racial domination, then the institutions and systems of power that produce, defend, and sustain this condition have to be dislodged and defeated. For that, most people have to stop experiencing the condition -- and the enemy that makes it possible -- as abstractions “out there.”

A movement isn’t called that for nothing. It has to move people. It needs lovers, and friends, and allies. It has to generate a cascade of feeling -- moral feeling. The movement’s passion has to become a general passion. And that passion must be focused: the concern that people feel about some large condition “out there” has to find traction closer to home.

Vis-à-vis the slow-motion apocalypse of climate change, there’s plenty of bad news daily and it’s hitting ever closer home, even if you live in the parching Southwest or the burning West, not the Philippines or the Maldive Islands. Until recently, however, it sometimes felt as if the climate movement was spinning its wheels, gaining no traction. But the extraordinary work of Bill McKibben and his collaborators at 350.org, and the movements against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and its Canadian equivalent, the Northern Gateway pipeline, have changed the climate-change climate.

Now, the divestment movement, too, becomes a junction point where action in the here-and-now, on local ground, gains momentum toward a grander transformation. These movements are the hinges on which the door to a livable future swings."
toddgitlin  sustainability  2013  climatechange  divestment  investment  harvard  movements  energy  fossilfuels  bigenergy  change  revolution  history  transformation 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Powering A Nation.org
"Our 2013 Fellows present a Powering a Nation special report, “Over Water Under Fire.”

The interactive documentary, "Over Water Under Fire," combines a video narrative with motion graphics and text to present the Colorado River as a living timeline of our nation's innovations and exploitations with water as the river's uncertain future echoes the precarious state of water resources in this country. The graphics and text pieces will focus on how humans have physically altered the environment along the river in response to limited water resources, how the river has responded to those changes and what choices the country will have to make in the future.

The narrative arc is integrated with a video story on Special Ops veterans who come back from battle zones with PTSD and take a river trip called "Warriors on Cataract" as a means of therapy. These veterans emphasize the human connection to water resources and subtly echo the theme of U.S. resource allocation."

[See also: http://www.poweringanation.org/water2013/ ]
activism  climate  coal  energy  water  veterans  storytelling  interactivefilm  interactive  ptsd  interactivedocumentary  documentary  climatechange  us  rivers  2013  coloradoriver 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Undercover Agents Infiltrated Tar Sands Resistance Camp to Break up Planned Protest | Latest News | Earth Island Journal | Earth Island Institute
"After a week of careful planning, environmentalists attending a tar sands resistance action camp in Oklahoma thought they had the element of surprise — but they would soon learn that their moves were being closely watched by law enforcement officials and TransCanada, the very company they were targeting."
transcanada  tarsands  2013  resistance  politics  lawenforcement  activism  policestate  protest  oklahoma  energy  bigenergy  via:javierarbona 
august 2013 by robertogreco
‘A perpetual outpouring of energy at the heart of things’ — The Double Dagger — Medium
"Here [http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/10/iain-banks-ken-macleod-science-fiction ], Ken MacLeod characterizes the science fiction of Iain Banks, who died recently, and far too young:
A multiverse in continuous creation, a perpetual outpouring of energy at the heart of things, was for him a happy and hopeful notion, and one that he at least affected to take seriously as a possibility. It is easy, and right, to see in it a reflection of his own boundless creative exuberance.
Iain Banks’s science fiction, his chronicle of the cosmos-spanning civilization he called the Culture, is a monument to the idea that there is a bigger story waiting for us somewhere far from here; that this, all of it, is just the beginning, these ten thousand years (so far) the first chapter of a very thick and very interesting book. Not even the first chapter! Just the throat-clearing introduction. The copyright page.


Iain Banks imagined
a perpetual outpouring of energy at the heart of things


and the only halfway-reasonable memorial is simply this: create."
iaianbanks  robinsloan  creativity  2013  making  glvo  creation  energy  hope  happiness  culture  perspective  time  civilization  progress 
june 2013 by robertogreco
System Energy Efficiency Lab
"Energy consumption is a critical constraint in the design of modern computer systems. Research in SEE lab addresses energy efficiency in systems of all sizes, from sensor nodes to processors to data centers. Portable systems, such as mobile embedded systems and wireless sensor networks, typically operate with a limited energy source such as batteries. The design process for these systems is characterized by a tradeoff between high performance and low power consumption, emphasizing the need to meet performance constraints while minimizing the power consumption. Decreasing the power consumption is also an important factor in lowering the packaging and the cooling costs of embedded systems. On the other end, stationary systems also require energy efficiency due the operating costs and environmental concerns related to desktops, servers and data centers. Current data centers are increasingly limited by power and thermal capacity. The annual energy cost of a large data center can be in the range of millions of dollars, and the cooling cost is about half of the total energy cost. Energy efficient and temperature aware approaches address these large scale systems at different levels, such as the whole data center, computing clusters, servers or components such as processors, disk drives, etc.

System energy efficiency lab is part of Embedded Systems and Software group at UCSD."

[Jug's page: http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~jvenkate/ ]
ucsd  energy  efficiency  engineering  compsci  systems  embeddedsystems  jagannathanvenkatesh  friends  lajolla  sandiego 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Notebook on Cities and Culture: S3E1: Buoyancy and Poignancy with Pico Iyer
"Japan's distinctive combination of buoyancy and poignancy, which leads to the pre-savoring of wistfulness to come; the culture's dissolution of mind, heart, and soul all in the same place, and his efforts to build an intellectual infrastructure around his Japan-related intuitions; his recent reading of John Cage, an unexpected master of the Japanese virtues of not knowing and not saying; the necessity, when you want to write about something, to write about something else, and of writing about a passion in order to write about yourself; the Californian question of "being yourself," and its inadmissability to the Japanese mindset; his relief at not having to be Japanese within Japanese society, and what being a Japanese in Japanese society has done to visit a female brain drain upon the country; what it takes to best remain an outsider in Japan, enjoying its peculiar kind of diplomatic immunity, and how Donald Richie mastered that exchange of belonging for freedom…"
passions  memoirs  notknowing  presence  time  fleetingmoments  poignancy  buoyancy  nuance  invisibility  reservedness  quiet  energy  friction  spontaneity  globalization  osaka  english  responsibility  interdependence  compassion  isolationism  isolation  canon  identity  collectivism  community  place  westpoint  books  listening  silence  understanding  vitality  comfort  nostalgia  pre-nostalgia  memory  women  familiarity  attention  donaldrichie  gender  knowing  writing  belonging  california  thoughfulness  japan  intimacy  society  culture  colinmarshall  johncage  2013  via:charlieloyd  picoiyer 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Fundación Chile
"Somos una corporación privada sin fines de lucro creada en 1976, cuyos socios son el Gobierno de Chile y BHP Billiton-Minera Escondida.

Misión

Nuestra misión es introducir innovaciones de alto impacto y potenciar el capital humano para aumentar la competitividad de Chile, promoviendo y desarrollando la economía a través de transferencias tecnológicas y en alianza con redes de conocimiento locales y globales.

En FCh creemos que en nuestro país también podemos hablar de innovación y estamos convencidos que es posible convertir a Chile en un polo de innovación y emprendimiento.

En nuestros 36 años, nos hemos consolidado como un “do tank”, siendo pioneros en habilitar nuevos sectores a través de un portafolio de empresas demostrativas, programas que crean capacidades y servicios tecnológicos.

Nuestras principales áreas de desarrollo son: Alimentos y Biotecnología, Acuicultura, Agua y Medio Ambiente, Energía y Cambio Climático, Capital Humano, Educación y Digitalización…"

[via: http://www.helsinkidesignlab.org/search?q=chile ]
bhp  innovation  entrepreneurship  technology  dotank  water  environment  digitalization  education  humancapital  climatechange  energy  food  biotechnology  biotech  aquaculture  nonprofit  chile  nonprofits 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Energy Efficiency in San Gabriel Valley
"The San Gabriel Valley is home to 31 unique and exciting cities, each with its own energy use and greenhouse gas emissions profile. This report contains 2010 per capita activity data and overall greenhouse gas emissions data from all 27 cities that participated in the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Energy Action Plan project. The map above and charts below report how much electricity and natural gas people used, how far they drove, how much waste they generated, and the greenhouse gas emissions that occurred as a result of those activities."
mapping  energy-efficiency  energy  losangeles  sangabrielvalley  stamen  visualization  maps  data 
november 2012 by robertogreco
27c3: Your Infrastructure Will Kill You (en) - YouTube
"The past century our infrastructure has seen both massive expansion and heavy centralization. When it fails, it fails big -- this is the reality of our modern interconnectedness. We live in a world of crumbling bridges and bankrupt states, and our infrastructure will kill us. The people we're relying on to keep us safe are trying to accomplish long-term risk management with short-term thinking. So, what now? We can't opt out, but we can become more resilient, and we can start thinking about risk differently.

In this talk, we'll look at threat modeling in the real world, six ways to die, failing states, that big party in the desert, the failure of the humanitarian project, algae and the U.S. military, large-scale natural disasters, the power grid, and many other things. The problems we face are big in every sense of the word -- they involve some of the biggest things we've ever built -- but the solutions may not be. Can non-governmental networks step up when governments fail…"
makermovement  makerculture  networks  government  energy  risk  resilience  inefficiency  efficiency  2011  infrastructure  elanorsaitta 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Time & Eternity
"We eat Wonder Bread which is styrofoam injected with some chemicals that are supposed to be nutritive. We do not even know how to drink. In other words, living, we live in the abstract, not in the concrete. We work for money, not for wealth. We look forward to the future, and do not know how to enjoy today. Now you see is the meaning of eternal life. When Jesus said "Before Abraham was," he didn't say "I was," he said "I am." And to come to this, to know that you are and there is no time except the present. And then suddenly, you see, you attain a sense of reality. You have to find it now. And so really, the aim of education is to teach people to live in the present, to be all here. As it is, our educational system is pretty abstract. It neglects the absolutely fundamentals of life, teaching us all to be bureaucrats, bankers clerks, accountants and insurance salesmen; all cerebral.

It entirely neglects our relationships to the material world."

[See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4 ]
plans  planning  symbols  words  philosophy  speed  energy  motion  hurry  attention  slow  children  sovietunion  posterity  hereandnow  present  abstraction  abstract  presence  reality  capitalism  communism  alanwatts  education  eternity  time 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Millsin' About - Why do we pay attention to political campaigns?
"Has anyone with real political sensibilities ever been affected by a campaign or its media wake? Are you going to change your vote? If not, why are you reading about the campaign?… To see what “other Americans” are seeing? To make sure that if something untoward is said, you will be ready with appropriate indignation on behalf of your team? Do you worry that if you don’t pay attention to your candidate, he will vanish? Why do we fill our minds, lives with the chatter of these distant soap stars, these feuding celebrities, these mediated heroes and villains? Why do we give ourselves to all this, when we all know whom we support, all know whom we want to win, all know which policies we think are best?

The compromise between committed action & unattached awareness is agitated, inconsequential attention. Imagine how many minds are filled with thoughts of Mitt Romney & Barack Obama & the imaginary values they seem to represent, while all that is actually important in life fades."
energy  attention  time  life  wastedtime  wastedenergy  mindchanging  mindchanges  campaigns  politicalcampaigns  2012  politics  millsbaker 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Curse of Bigness | Christopher Ketcham | Orion Magazine
"Small groups of people prove to be more cohesive, effective, creative in getting things done. In the 1970s, the English management expert and business scholar Charles Handy put the ideal group size in work environments at “between five and seven” for “best participation, for highest all-round involvement.” Alexander Paul Hare, author of the classic Creativity in Small Groups, showed that groups sized between four and seven were most successful at problem solving, largely because small groups, as Hare observed, are more democratic: egalitarian, mutualist, co-operative, inclusive. Hundreds of studies in factories and workplaces confirm that workers divided into small groups enjoy lower absenteeism, less sickness, higher productivity, greater social interaction, higher morale—most likely because the conditions allow them to engage what is best in being human, to share the meaning and fruits of their labor…"
gandhi  buddhisteconomics  buddhism  energy  efschumacher  competition  paulgoodman  alienation  charlesperrow  representativedemocracy  profits  goldmansachs  standardoil  gm  innovation  committees  efficiency  standardization  corporatocracy  corporatism  economics  louisbrandeis  gigantism  growth  decentralization  human  humans  community  communities  biology  nature  size  2010  christopherketcham  toobigtosucceed  toobigtofail  power  howwework  howwelearn  hierarchy  groupdynamics  inclusiveness  inclusion  cooperation  egalitarian  egalitarianism  democratic  collaboration  management  alexanderpaulhare  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  morale  productivity  neuroscience  social  scale  bigness  creativity  charleshandy  openstudioproject  lcproject  groupsize  cv  small  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Mustafa's Space Drive: An Egyptian Student's Quantum Physics Invention | Fast Company
"Aisha Mustafa, a 19-year-old Egyptian physics student, patented a new type of propulsion system for spacecraft that uses cutting edge quantum physics instead of thrusters…

Mustafa invented a way of tapping this quantum effect via what's known as the dynamic Casimir effect. This uses a "moving mirror" cavity, where two very reflective very flat plates are held close together, and then moved slightly to interact with the quantum particle sea. It's horribly technical, but the end result is that Mustafa's use of shaped silicon plates similar to those used in solar power cells results in a net force being delivered. A force, of course, means a push or a pull and in space this equates to a drive or engine.

In terms of space propulsion, this is amazing…

if you want proof that the tiniest of pushes can propel a spacecraft, check this out: Two Pioneer space probes, launched in the 1970s, are the farthest manmade objects from Earth...but they're not as far away as they should be…"
thisishuge  spaceprobes  pioneer  casimireffect  propulsion  aishamustafa  2012  spacetravel  energy  quantum  space  science  solarsail  quantumphysics  physics 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Take the mickey back | The Spectator
"Only a very privileged and spoilt westerner, who lives in a country that has not known famine for centuries, could afford to dismiss science and technology without a qualm. Only a know-nothing could reject an experiment in advance. And only a dilettante wills the ends of combatting global warming and food insecurity but screams with rage when anyone proposes means. The warm, vague feelings I had about the greens are cooling by the day."
Spectator  Nick_Cohen  Greens  environment  power  energy  nuclear_power  GM_crops  GM  science  technology  2012  Stewart_Brand  global_challenges  global_problems  activism  via:Preoccupations 
may 2012 by robertogreco
(Post)Material - Q&A
"(Post)Material is a three-day event that proposes questions and answers for contemporary design practice operating across the wildly varying dynamics of atoms, bits and ideas. Curated by Q&A;, a joint effort between four Helsinki-based design and research studios, and facilitated by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the event brings together an assemblage of practitioners and academics in a daily talk show at WantedDesign, The Tunnel (11th ave b/w 27th & 28th) on May 19–21, 2.30 pm–4.00 pm every day.

“We tend to talk of the ‘information age’ without realizing that the future is as much about energy and materials as it is about information,” postulated Manuel De Landa in 1994. From design’s perspective, could this historical point in time—a resource-hungry industrial epoch rapidly nearing its expiry date—be defined as the ‘(post)material’ age?"
kokoro&moi  (Post)Material  materials  sustainability  information  volume  clog  teemusuviala  kylemay  roryhyde  okdo  jennasutela  kivisotamaa  cmmnwlth  zoecoombes  seungholee  dong-pingwong  colleenmacklin  finland  sitra  bryanboyer  prototo  marttikalliala  wevolve  villetikka  manueldelanda  designthinking  design  energy  postmaterial  nyc  2012  events  q&a 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Mr Icarus: Meet Mr Gatherer
"All credit to the brave persons from Silent UK for sharing with us their spectacular photos from the top of…the Shard…I’d been struggling with a challenge: how to explain, to a bunch of bright architects and city managers, that retrofitting solar panels and green roofs will not be an adequate response to the energy challenges that are upon us.

The Shard caper happened just as I discovered the work of a geologist called Earl Cook who, in 1971, devised a simple scale of social development measured in terms of kilocalories “captured from the environment”. Hunter-Gatherers, Cook estimated,  got by on about  5,000 kcal per day. A modern Londoner, by comparison, needs about 300,000 kilocalories a day once all the systems and gadgets of modern life (that’s them blazing away in the background) are factored in.

That’s why industrial civilization, which is 60 times more energy-intensive per person than what came before, will not be saved by planting creepers at the base of The Shard."
civilization  environment  cities  peakoil  energy-efficiency  energy  earlcook  hunter-gatherer  sustainability  london  theshard  2012  perspective  johnthackara 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Transition Network
"Transition Network supports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness."

"Transition Network's role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions."

“What is a Transition Initiative? It's a place where there's a community-led process that helps that town/village/city/neighbourhood become stronger and happier.”

[Also here: http://pinboard.in/u:steelemaley/t:transition/ ]
resilience  via:litherland  via:steelemaley  energy  culture  peakoil  green  activism  environment  transition  community  sustainability 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Porter and Mykleby: A Grand Strategy for the Nation on Vimeo
"Naval Captain Porter and Col. Mykleby of the Marines, military strategists working at the highest level of government, present highlights from their paper, “A National Strategic Narrative.” Their ideas—less military force, more social capital and more sustainable practices in energy and agriculture—have caused a recent stir in policy communities."

[See also: http://poptech.org/popcasts/a_grand_strategy_for_the_nation ]
grassroots  complexity  agriculture  military  socialcapital  nationalstrategicnarrative  policy  energy  us  government  systemsthinking  markmykleby  wayneporter  poptech  sustainability  via:steelemaley 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Model Created to Map Energy Use in NYC Buildings | The Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science - Columbia University
"A new study by Columbia Engineering School will help urban planners, policy makers, and engineers understand the local dynamics of building energy use in New York City—where over two-thirds of the energy consumption is from buildings—and help jumpstart the exchange of ideas.
 
“The lack of information about building energy use is staggering,” said the study’s lead author Bianca Howard, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Columbia Engineering. “We want to start the conversation for the average New Yorker about energy efficiency and conservation by placing their energy consumption in the context of other New Yorkers. Just knowing about your own consumption can change your entire perspective.”"
2012  mapping  maps  data  visualization  nyc  energy 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Rhythms
"I like what Kelli Anderson says about her work. For every project, she figures out everything that she hates about the conventional approaches, and proceeds to rage and spit at them, and then tries to channel all of that energy into a different approach. This is how many of her projects turn out to be fantastical.

I see a similar rhythm in the way I like to work. Build up a set of frustrations, in public or in private, and then use them as fuel to light a path forward."
flow  habits  meditation  2012  self-knowledge  energy  frustration  rage  howwework  allentan  kellianderson  rhythms  rhythm 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Olafur Grimsson [President of Iceland]: Iceland Bounces Back on Vimeo
"…describes how his country encountered social & democratic upheaval after economic crisis of 2008. Over last 3 years, by combining wide-scale systemic inquiry into governance & judicial systems as well as a long-standing investment in clean energy & technology, Iceland has been able to bounce back w/ a remarkable economic vitality."

"…inherent link btwn implications of what happened in economic area & democratic & social fate of our nation…

What should be paramount in our societies, economics or politics [democracy]?…

What we are now seeing is people power in its purest form…enhanced by social media, but fundamental essence is to challenge governmental…institutions as never before…

…traditional decision-making processes w/in institutions have almost become side show…

…3 more lessons…[1] significance of China… [2] banks have become high tech companies threatening the growth of creative sector economies even if banks are extraordinarily successful… [3] importance of clean energy…"
iceland  policy  2011  politics  energy  greenenergy  finance  banking  crisis  risk  socialmedia  democracy  bailouts  resiliency  economics  creativity  justice  governance  olafurgrimsson  society  transparency  systems  systemicoverhaul  reform  cleanenergy  resilience 
december 2011 by robertogreco
The peak oil crisis: the energy trap
"…most government policies aimed at helping with energy costs - tax rebates on efficient vehicles, subsidized public transit & telecommuting, benefit mainly those with higher incomes…

If there is a way out of the energy trap, it is going to be hard to find. For now most of us are muddling along. Long vacation trips are down a bit but commuting, shopping, visiting, moving the kids about is going along about as usual. Those who can't afford driving, shopping, recreation, and eating are cutting back as much as necessary to keep the gas tank full.

The long term solution to all this is rather straight forward -- better public transit, far more efficient cars, housing closer to work. But these are all long term solutions, expensive and years to implement. All indications are that the energy trap can only get worse, perhaps much worse, in the next few years."
energytrap  energy  us  publictransit  masstransit  missedopportunities  2011  peakoil  government  policy  longterm 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Preserving the Environment with Cities, Not In Spite of Them - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"We cannot allow the future to mimic the recent past. We need our inner cities and traditional communities to absorb as much of our anticipated growth as possible, to keep the impacts per increment of growth as low as possible. And, to do that, we need cities to be brought back to life, with great neighborhoods and complete streets, with walkability and well-functioning public transit, with clean parks and rivers, with air that is safe to breathe and water that is safe to drink.

This, I believe, leads to some imperatives: where cities have been dis-invested, we must rebuild them; where populations have been neglected, we must provide them with opportunity; where suburbs have been allowed to sprawl nonsensically, we must retrofit them and make them better. These are not just economic and social matters: these are environmental issues, every bit as deserving of the environmental community’s attention as the preservation of nature."
cities  urban  urbanism  environment  sustainability  economics  kaidbenfield  us  innercities  people  humans  edglaeser  davidowen  density  energy  civilization  classideas  urbanization  builtenvironment  infrastructure  society  libraries  parks  publictransit  transportation  mobile  schools  education  growth  population  2011 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Doors of Perception weblog: Iceland: eaten alive, or growing to live?
"It feels, to this outsider, as if Iceland is intent on self-immolation because she cannot imagine a persuasive alternative. Big energy projects denote decisive action and a dynamic future. Boutique farms, a jumper business, or a few backpackers in a campsite, sound too small, too puny, as the basis for a secure future.

This is where the visitor can perhaps be useful: as a mirror in which a country's residents see more meaningful possibilities reflected back than they had realized were there. In that spirit, it strikes this visitor that Iceland could also be the beetle that escapes - for two reasons…"
johnthackara  2011  iceland  aluminum  environment  sustainability  energy  future 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Valkee - brain stimulation headset
"Valkee substitutes the mood-elevating effects of the sun, by channeling safe bright light directly to photosensitive regions of the brain through the ear canal. That's why Valkee increases energy, and can act as a preventative or treatment of mood swings. Valkee has CE Class II(a) medical device certification and is clinically tested."<br />
<br />
[Is this for real?]
health  brain  stimulation  headset  valkee  moodswings  mood  energy 
august 2011 by robertogreco
13-Year-Old Makes Solar Power Breakthrough by Harnessing the Fibonacci Sequence | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
"While most 13-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or cruising Facebook, one 7th grader was trekking through the woods uncovering a mystery of science. After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. His impressive results show that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. The study earned Aidan a provisional U.S patent - it's a rare find in the field of technology and a fantastic example of how biomimicry can drastically improve design."<br />
<br />
[More: http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2011/aidan.html ]
design  technology  science  math  energy  solar  solarpower  aidandwyer  trees  nature  fibonacci 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Students Pressure Chile to Reform Education System - NYTimes.com
"Segments of society that had been seen as politically apathetic only a few years ago, particularly youth, have taken an unusually confrontational stance twrd government & business elite, demanding wholesale changes in education, transportation & energy policy, sometimes violently…

last Friday, Mr. Piñera noted Chileans were witnessing a “new society”…people “feel more empowered & want to feel they are heard.”…rebelling against “excessive inequality” in country…[w/] highest per capita income in Latin America but also…one of most unequal distributions of wealth…

…protests leaders are also pushing for constitutional change to guarantee free, quality education from preschool through high school & a state-financed university system that ensures quality & equal access…

“For many years our parents’ generation was afraid to demonstrate, to complain, thinking it was better to conform to what was going on. Students are setting an example without the fear our parents had.”
chile  politics  reform  education  equity  equality  disparity  sebastiánpiñera  2011  protest  protests  activism  change  apathy  engagement  empowerment  income  incomegap  wealth  latinamerica  access  policy  energy  transportation  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
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