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robertogreco : pollution   65

Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
"Driving is ruining our lives, and triggering environmental disasters. Only drastic action will kick our dependency"



"One of these emergencies is familiar to every hospital. Pollution now kills three times as many people worldwide as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Remember the claims at the start of this century, projected so noisily by the billionaire press: that public money would be better spent on preventing communicable disease than on preventing climate breakdown? It turns out that the health dividend from phasing out fossil fuels is likely to have been much bigger. (Of course, there was nothing stopping us from spending money on both: it was a false dilemma.) Burning fossil fuels, according to a recent paper, is now “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”.

In other sectors, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply. But transport emissions in the UK have declined by only 2% since 1990. The government’s legally binding target is an 80% cut by 2050, though even this, the science now tells us, is hopelessly inadequate. Transport, mostly because of our obsession with the private car, is now the major factor driving us towards climate breakdown, in this and many other nations.

The number of people killed on the roads was falling steadily in the UK until 2010, at which point the decline suddenly ended. Why? Because, while fewer drivers and passengers are dying, the number of pedestrians killed has risen by 11%. In the US, it’s even worse: a 51% rise in the annual death rate of pedestrians since 2009. There seem to be two reasons: drivers distracted by their mobile phones, and a switch from ordinary cars to sports-utility vehicles. As SUVs are higher and heavier, they are more likely to kill the people they hit. Driving an SUV in an urban area is an antisocial act.

There are also subtler and more pervasive effects. Traffic mutes community, as the noise, danger and pollution in busy streets drive people indoors. The places in which children could play and adults could sit and talk are reserved instead for parking. Engine noise, a great but scarcely acknowledged cause of stress and illness, fills our lives. As we jostle to secure our road space, as we swear and shake our fists at other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, as we grumble about speed limits and traffic calming, cars change us, enhancing our sense of threat and competition, cutting us off from each other.

New roads carve up the countryside, dispelling peace, creating a penumbra of noise, pollution and ugliness. Their effects spread for many miles. The deposition of reactive nitrogen from car exhaust (among other factors) changes the living systems even of remote fastnesses. In Snowdonia, it is dropped at the rate of 24kg per hectare per year, radically altering plant communities. Wars are fought to keep down the cost of driving: hundreds of thousands died in Iraq partly for this purpose. The earth is reamed with the mines required to manufacture cars and the oil wells needed to power them, and poisoned by the spills and tailings.

A switch to electric cars addresses only some of these issues. Already, beautiful places are being wrecked by an electric vehicle resource rush. Lithium mining, for example, is now poisoning rivers and depleting groundwater from Tibet to Bolivia. They still require a vast expenditure of energy and space. They still need tyres, whose manufacture and disposal (tyres are too complex to recycle) is a massive environmental blight.

We are told that cars are about freedom of choice. But every aspect of this assault on our lives is assisted by state planning and subsidy. Roads are built to accommodate projected traffic, which then grows to fill the new capacity. Streets are modelled to maximise the flow of cars. Pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed by planners into narrow and often dangerous spaces – the afterthoughts of urban design. If we paid for residential street parking at market rates for land, renting the 12m2 a car requires would cost around £3,000 a year in the richer parts of Britain. The chaos on our roads is a planned chaos.

Transport should be planned, but with entirely different aims: to maximise its social benefits, while minimising harm. This means a wholesale switch towards electric mass transit, safe and separate bike lanes and broad pavements, accompanied by a steady closure of the conditions that allow cars to rampage through our lives. In some places, and for some purposes, using cars is unavoidable. But for the great majority of journeys they can easily be substituted, as you can see in Amsterdam, Pontevedra and Copenhagen. We could almost eliminate them from our cities.

In this age of multiple emergencies – climate chaos, pollution, social alienation – we should remember that technologies exist to serve us, not to dominate us. It is time to drive the car out of our lives."
cars  georgemonbiot  2019  environment  safety  health  policy  transportation  emissions  freedom  climatechange  globalwarming  society  cities  urban  urbanism  isolation  pollution  alienation  masstransit 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Superblocks: How Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars - YouTube
"Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians."
cities  cars  transportation  pollution  2016  airpollution  noise  noisepollution  urban  urbanism  superblocks  urbanplanning  air  pedestrians  ildefonscerdà  classideas 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Disturbances #15: The Flavour of Los Angeles
"There are many smogs.

Classic smog, of 1950s London “pea-souper” fame, is sulphurous, as SO2 from burning coal mixes with cool, foggy air to produce H2SO4, sulphuric acid. But London was not the only city to experience such noxious vapours. Atlanta has biogenic smog, containing terpenes from sources such as pine trees and rotting organic matter. Intensive agricultural regions such as California’s Central Valley can have an unusually alkaline smog, from ammonia and amines in fertiliser and feedlot manure.

In May 2015, Nicola Twilley and the Centre for Genomic Gastronomy made meringues of each in an exploration of ‘aeroir’ (the gaseous version of terroir). Apparently “different cities’ smogs do, indeed, taste different”. The repulsion felt at the prospect of actually eating the meringues also served to make the point: you’re already taking this stuff into your body with every breath."



"Los Angeles has a smog problem for both human and topological reasons. Even today, the city is not just the home of Hollywood and dubious lifestyle ‘influencers’ but the biggest manufacturing centre in the US, the country’s largest port, and its second largest auto manufacturing location. Each steel factory, chemical plant and oil refinery produces hydrocarbon and/or nitrous oxide emissions, providing the chemical ingredients for smog to form.

But its geography also makes the city a natural pollution trap. Hemmed in by mountains, smoke & exhaust from is trapped in the city lowlands. Cool sea breezes are drawn on-shore but cannot circulate, as this denser air finds itself trapped by an inversion layer of warmer air above, which operates as a kind of atmospheric lid. The pollution cannot go anywhere, and so stagnates, cooking gently in the sunshine.

Los Angeles has a temperature inversion for 260 days a year. It trapped the smoke of Tongva Native American villages in 1542, and it still traps pollution now.

The air has improved over time. Pollution levels are down about 75% since their peak in the 1970s (), and diesel-based particulates dropped 70% in the last decade. On that day-by-day air quality index map, much of the city has ‘acceptable’ air quality much of the time - below an AQI index of 100, the limit damaging to health. Occasionally Central Los Angeles even rates ‘good’ - astonishing, really, for the centre of a city. Kids in the LA Basin are literally growing stronger lungs. How did this happen?

In the 1950s & 60s activist groups, such as Stamp Out Smog, a women’s group in Beverley Hills, brought kids to rallies wearing gas masks, and successfully pushed politicians to do something about the crisis, in some of the earliest environmental protesting in the US. 1963 saw Congress pass the first Clean Air Act, followed by national emissions standards for cars. California passed stronger standards for cleaner cars and cleaner gasoline, and legal battles forced car manufacturers to comply. Then catalytic converters, rolled out in cars from 1975, were “the key piece of technology that allowed everything to change,” says Mary Nichols, chairman of California’s Air Resources Board.

So we need to ask: why is the Inland Empire still purple, for ‘very unhealthy’?"



"Yet smog remains central to Los Angeles’ mythology and will do for a while yet, even if experience one day fades into nostalgia. Smog produces the crimson sunset I watched bleed out behind the Hollywood sign one evening back in January; at night it makes the city lights glow.

It is, literally, the atmosphere of the city - and serves to symbolise that in so many of the canonical books and films about Los Angeles. Bladerunner, of course. The grubby haze on the horizon in Chinatown. Smog stands both for everything hidden and obscured about the city, and the neo-noir detective’s desire to see through it.

“Since the mid sixties, the aurora of smog has become a governing symbol of Los Angeles, the emblem of avoidance and self-reflection,” writes Norman M. Klein in The History of Forgetting. “One drives into it with the same expectations as driving into a city skyline - for the city out of control. Along the San Bernadino mountains, towards Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear, the smog can rise up to a mile high, like a mysterious erasure, like the top of an Ed Ruscha painting.”"



"We have come round, through shame and future-nostalgia, to desire.

Which raises the question, why do I care so much about the filthy aura of a city 5,000 miles away?

Because I was raised in its mythic tradition.

Los Angeles does not only exert a hold on the cinematic imagination - it’s done a number on geographers.

I studied at LSE then UCL in the mid-2000s and my reading lists were thick with urban scholarship both from and about the city. Mike Davis (who called it the ‘City of Quartz’); Ed Soja (that wonderful subtitle, ‘Journeys To Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places’); and Frederic Jameson on the ‘Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ as epitomised in the Westin Bonaventure hotel.

Los Angeles was the twentieth century, you see: the city of the motorcar, of film & TV, of aerospace and the WW2 military-industrial complex; a thick nexus of globalization, migration, white flight and urban renewal. And it was the definitive American city because it was the first truly American city, the first not to look back towards Europe for its streetplans and topography but to sprawl hungrily a hundred miles into the desert, cannibalising water supplies from lesser municipalities, a luxuriant low-rise efflorescence lurching from one crisis to the next. It was late capitalism, post-Fordism, postmodernism - and as such, the crucible where late C20th urban geographical theory was heated to sometimes fervid degree.

There we were in London, a metropolis with far greater claim to ‘world city’ status and several thousand more years of urban development and global reach to study. And yet we were taught to long for palm trees and the perversion of the freeway.

My department had a thing for Los Angeles. Iain Borden’s work on "skateboarding, space and the city" was Dogtown And Z-Boys in academic form, rooted in a deeply embodied knowledge of the joy of skimming across sun-kissed concrete; the joy of youth and risk and thrill of reappropriating the urban realm. Matthew Gandy on the concrete sump of the LA River. The essays I kept writing about the history and function of bodily metaphors for the city. The fixation absolutely everybody seemed to have with JG Ballard. Papers on Cronenberg's film of 'Crash'.

These are libidinal geographies. And it was a kind of fascination that’s equally close to disgust. If the city wasn’t polluted, if the highways weren’t sclerotic and the political machinations machine-y – and yet the whole thing somehow still seeming to hold together - there wouldn’t be much to write.

Anna Karenina problems: happy cities are all alike. They end up on Monocle’s ‘Best Places To Live' ranking and become interchangeable commodities.

Without the smog, LA would lack atmosphere. Flavour."
losangeles  jayowens  2017  air  flavor  nicolatwilley  iainborden  london  cities  desire  place  geography  pollution  inlandempire  california  smog 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Is the U.S. Education System Producing a Society of “Smart Fools”? - Scientific American
[had me until he says more (a new kind of) testing is the answer to the problem]

"At last weekend’s annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Boston, Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg sounded an alarm about the influence of standardized tests on American society. Sternberg, who has studied intelligence and intelligence testing for decades, is well known for his “triarchic theory of intelligence,” which identifies three kinds of smarts: the analytic type reflected in IQ scores; practical intelligence, which is more relevant for real-life problem solving; and creativity. Sternberg offered his views in a lecture associated with receiving a William James Fellow Award from the APS for his lifetime contributions to psychology. He explained his concerns to Scientific American.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

In your talk, you said that IQ tests and college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT are essentially selecting and rewarding “smart fools”—people who have a certain kind of intelligence but not the kind that can help our society make progress against our biggest challenges. What are these tests getting wrong?

Tests like the SAT, ACT, the GRE—what I call the alphabet tests—are reasonably good measures of academic kinds of knowledge, plus general intelligence and related skills. They are highly correlated with IQ tests and they predict a lot of things in life: academic performance to some extent, salary, level of job you will reach to a minor extent—but they are very limited. What I suggested in my talk today is that they may actually be hurting us. Our overemphasis on narrow academic skills—the kinds that get you high grades in school—can be a bad thing for several reasons. You end up with people who are good at taking tests and fiddling with phones and computers, and those are good skills but they are not tantamount to the skills we need to make the world a better place.

What evidence do you see of this harm?

IQ rose 30 points in the 20th century around the world, and in the U.S. that increase is continuing. That’s huge; that’s two standard deviations, which is like the difference between an average IQ of 100 and a gifted IQ of 130. We should be happy about this but the question I ask is: If you look at the problems we have in the world today—climate change, income disparities in this country that probably rival or exceed those of the gilded age, pollution, violence, a political situation that many of us never could have imaged—one wonders, what about all those IQ points? Why aren’t they helping?

What I argue is that intelligence that’s not modulated and moderated by creativity, common sense and wisdom is not such a positive thing to have. What it leads to is people who are very good at advancing themselves, often at other people’s expense. We may not just be selecting the wrong people, we may be developing an incomplete set of skills—and we need to look at things that will make the world a better place.

Do we know how to cultivate wisdom?

Yes we do. A whole bunch of my colleagues and I study wisdom. Wisdom is about using your abilities and knowledge not just for your own selfish ends and for people like you. It’s about using them to help achieve a common good by balancing your own interests with other people’s and with high-order interests through the infusion of positive ethical values.

You know, it’s easy to think of smart people but it’s really hard to think of wise people. I think a reason is that we don’t try to develop wisdom in our schools. And we don’t test for it, so there’s no incentive for schools to pay attention.

Can we test for wisdom and can we teach it?

You learn wisdom through role-modeling. You can start learning that when you are six or seven. But if you start learning what our schools are teaching, which is how to prepare for the next statewide mastery tests, it crowds out of the curriculum the things that used to be essential. If you look at the old McGuffey Readers, they were as much about teaching good values and good ethics and good citizenship as about teaching reading. It’s not so much about teaching what to do but how to reason ethically; to go through an ethical problem and ask: How do I arrive at the right solution?

I don’t always think about putting ethics and reasoning together. What do you mean by that?

Basically, ethical reasoning involves eight steps: seeing that there’s a problem to deal with (say, you see your roommate cheat on an assignment); identifying it as an ethical problem; seeing it as a large enough problem to be worth your attention (it’s not like he’s just one mile over the speed limit); seeing it as personally relevant; thinking about what ethical rules apply; thinking about how to apply them; thinking what are the consequences of acting ethically—because people who act ethically usually don’t get rewarded; and, finally, acting. What I’ve argued is ethical reasoning is really hard. Most people don’t make it through all eight steps.

If ethical reasoning is inherently hard, is there really less of it and less wisdom now than in the past?

We have a guy [representative-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana] who allegedly assaulted a reporter and just got elected to the U.S. House of Representatives—and that’s after a 30-point average increase in IQ. We had violence in campaign rallies. Not only do we not encourage creativity, common sense and wisdom, I think a lot of us don’t even value them anymore. They’re so distant from what’s being taught in schools. Even in a lot of religious institutions we’ve seen a lot of ethical and legal problems arise. So if you’re not learning these skills in school or through religion or your parents, where are you going to learn them? We get people who view the world as being about people like themselves. We get this kind of tribalism.

So where do you see the possibility of pushing back?

If we start testing for these broader kinds of skills, schools will start to teach to them, because they teach to the test. My colleagues and I developed assessments for creativity, common sense and wisdom. We did this with the Rainbow Project, which was sort of experimental when I was at Yale. And then at Tufts, when I was dean of arts and sciences, we started Kaleidoscope, which has been used with tens of thousands of kids for admission to Tufts. They are still using it. But it’s very hard to get institutions to change. It’s not a quick fix. Once you have a system in place, the people who benefit from it rise to the top and then they work very hard to keep it.

Looking at the broader types of admission tests you helped implement—like Kaleidoscope at Tufts, the Rainbow Project at Yale, or Panorama at Oklahoma State, is there any evidence that kids selected for having these broader skills are in any way different from those who just score high on the SAT?

The newly selected kids were different. I think the folks in admissions would say so, at least when we started. We admitted kids who would not have gotten in under the old system—maybe they didn’t quite have the test scores or grades. When I talk about this, I give examples, such as those who wrote really creative essays.

Has there been any longitudinal follow-up of these kids?

We followed them through the first year of college. With Rainbow we doubled prediction [accuracy] for academic performance, and with Kaleidoscope we could predict the quality of extracurricular performance, which the SAT doesn’t do.

Do you think the emphasis on narrow measures like the SAT or GRE is hurting the STEM fields in particular?

I think it is. I think it’s hurting everything. We get scientists who are very good forward incrementers—they are good at doing the next step but they are not the people who change the field. They are not redirectors or reinitiators, who start a field over. And those are the people we need.

Are you hopeful about change?

If one could convince even a few universities and schools to try to follow a different direction, others might follow. If you start encouraging a creative attitude, to defy the crowd and to defy the zeitgeist, and if you teach people to think for themselves and how what they do affects others, I think it’s a no-lose proposition. And these things can be taught and they can be tested."
education  science  social  wisdom  iq  meritocracy  intelligence  2017  psychology  claudiawallis  robertsternberg  performance  creativity  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  rainbowproject  power  ethics  reasoning  values  learning  selfishness  gildedage  inequality  climatechange  pollution  violence  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  sat  gre  act  knowledge  teachingtothetest 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Could Help Bring an End to Pollution
"Scientists have discovered that wax worms can eat and biodegrade polyethylene, the rugged, common plastic used to make the shopping bags that are currently glutting landfill sites. The discovery was serendipitous. In an attempt to remove the pesky parasites from her honeycombs, an amateur beekeeper placed the worms into shopping bags, only to find that they’d begun to eat their way out.

Fortunately, that amateur beekeeper is a professional scientist: Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Spain.

Bertocchini teamed up with colleagues Christopher Howe and Paolo Bombelli from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge to conduct a timed experiment based on her observations. The researchers exposed a plastic shopping bag from a supermarket in the U.K. to approximately 100 wax worms. After 40 minutes, holes began to appear in the bag, and after 12 hours, the scientists observed a 92mg reduction in plastic mass.

Though unexpected, this isn’t entirely surprising, as the composition of the bags isn’t that different from the worms’ natural food source, beeswax. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini in a University of Cambridge news release.


IN BRIEF

Researchers have discovered that wax worms eat through polyethylene plastic, biodegrading it. If the scientists can determine how the process works, they may be able to devise an industrial-scale solution for plastic waste management.
CATERPILLAR VS. PLASTIC

Scientists have discovered that wax worms can eat and biodegrade polyethylene, the rugged, common plastic used to make the shopping bags that are currently glutting landfill sites. The discovery was serendipitous. In an attempt to remove the pesky parasites from her honeycombs, an amateur beekeeper placed the worms into shopping bags, only to find that they’d begun to eat their way out.

Fortunately, that amateur beekeeper is a professional scientist: Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Spain.

Bertocchini teamed up with colleagues Christopher Howe and Paolo Bombelli from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge to conduct a timed experiment based on her observations. The researchers exposed a plastic shopping bag from a supermarket in the U.K. to approximately 100 wax worms. After 40 minutes, holes began to appear in the bag, and after 12 hours, the scientists observed a 92mg reduction in plastic mass.

Though unexpected, this isn’t entirely surprising, as the composition of the bags isn’t that different from the worms’ natural food source, beeswax. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini in a University of Cambridge news release.

Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Could Help Bring an End to Pollution

The researchers proved that the chemical bonds in the plastic were breaking via spectroscopic analysis. They observed un-bonded “monomer” molecules, the result of the worms biodegrading the polyethylene into ethylene glycol. This was more than a chewing action because smearing mashed-up worms onto bags had the same effect.

“If a single enzyme is responsible for this chemical process, its reproduction on a large scale using biotechnological methods should be achievable,” according to Bombelli."
biomimicry  biomimetics  animals  insect  anture  plastic  2017  pollution 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Pigeons track air pollution in London with tiny backpacks
"A small flock of pigeons have been given tiny backpacks to monitor air pollution in London. The project was dreamt up by Plume Labs, a company focused on the environmental problem, and the marketing agency DigitasLBi. The rucksacks are fitted to the birds using small fabric vests, and the sensors inside are able to measure nitrogen dioxide and ozone levels. Only 10 birds are in flight at any one time, so the amount of data being collected is pretty small. However, it's still a creative way of analysing the air that millions breathe in every day in the capital.

If you're interested in tracking the birds' progress, a live map is currently available on the project's microsite [http://www.pigeonairpatrol.com/ ]. Alternatively, you can tweet the @pigeonair account on Twitter for a quick summary of a specific borough or neighborhood. The project is a three-day affair, designed to attract new beta testers for a wearable pollution monitor built by Plume Labs. As such, the new "Pigeon Air Patrol" feels more like a marketing campaign than an evolution in air pollution management. Still, it's neat to know that there are birds in the sky with backpacks -- and maybe, just maybe, there's scope to expand and refine the idea if these experimental test flights take off."
pigeons  multispecies  pollution  birds  london  2016  animals  datacollection  data 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Pressure Mounts to Reform Our Throwaway Clothing Culture by Marc Gunther: Yale Environment 360
"Americans dispose of about 12.8 million tons of textiles annually — 80 pounds for each man, woman, and child. In the U.S. and around the world, a growing number of environmentalists and clothing industry executives say it’s time to end the wasteful clothing culture and begin making new apparel out of old items on a large scale."



"London-based Worn Again began “upcycling” a decade ago by turning textile waste — including discarded McDonald’s uniforms, Virgin Atlantic airplane seats, and prison blankets — into clothes, shoes, and bags. But founder Cyndi Rhoades soon realized that making consistent products out of a variety of materials was “a very difficult business.” She turned her attention to recycling cotton and polyester, which poses a different set of obstacles. Mechanical recycling of cotton lowers its quality as chopped-up fibers get shorter and less soft, while recycled polyester costs more than new. Harder still is recycling clothes made from a blend of fabrics, which must be separated.

After several years of research, Worn Again joined forces with H&M and the PUMA division of Kering to develop chemical processes that will capture polyester and cotton from old textiles that have been broken down to the molecular level. Says Rhoades: “The holy grail is a process that can separate blended fibers, recapture the raw materials, and reintroduce them into the supply chain at a price competitive with their virgin counterparts.” The technology has been proven in a lab, but Rhoades declined to predict when it will be deployed more widely.


A partnership between Levi Strauss and Seattle-based startup Evrnu recently brought forth the world’s first pair of jeans made of post-consumer cotton waste. A preliminary lifecycle assessment of the product generated encouraging results, according to Paul Dillinger, vice president and head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss. “Cotton cultivation versus Evrnu, we’re looking at a 98 percent reduction in water use,” says Dillinger, noting that cotton is cultivated in places like China, India, and Pakistan that are — or could soon be — water-stressed.

Stacy Flynn, a former Target executive who is the co-founder of Evrnu, says its patented process purifies cotton garment waste, converts it to a pulp, and extrudes it as a clean new fiber that is softer than silk and stronger than cotton. Evrnu expects to announce partnerships with two more retailers soon, one of which wants to make knit shirts out of textile waste. The other will focus on footwear.

Flynn says: “Our goal — and we’re not there yet — is to use no virgin product in the creation of our fiber, and create no waste.” "
clothing  recycling  mending  textiles  us  fashion  environment  sustainability  wste  pollution  upcycling  levis  levistrauss  wornagain  glvo  h&m  puma  nike  patagonnia  zaa  thenorthface  eileenfisher  americaneagle  cotton  fabrics 
september 2016 by robertogreco
ROAR Magazine: Bookchin: living legacy of an American revolutionary
"A selection of articles, interviews and reviews from ROAR’s archives to honor and celebrate Bookchin’s long life, important work and great achievements.

The American revolutionary theorist Murray Bookchin passed away on July 30, 2006. Interest in his work and life has been revived in recent years, thanks in part to the Kurdish freedom movement in Turkey and Syria, which has begun to put his ideas about “a rational, ecological libertarian communist society, based on humane and cooperative social relations” into practice.

Long before the more recent upsurge of interest in his work, Bookchin’s writings, which go back all the way to the 1950s, influenced many on the left. Spending his life in revolutionary circles, Bookchin joined a communist youth organization at the age of nine and became a Trotskyist in his late thirties, before switching to anarchism and finally calling himself a ‘communalist’ after developing the theory of social ecology and libertarian municipalism.

To celebrate Bookchin’s long life and to honor his important work, we share a selection of the articles, interviews and reviews that ROAR has published over the years, highlighting the extraordinary intellectual achievements of this great radical thinker.

BOOKCHIN’S REVOLUTIONARY PROGRAM — JANET BIEHL
For Bookchin, the city was the new revolutionary arena, as it had been in the past; the twentieth-century left, blinded by its engagement with the proletariat and the factory, had overlooked this fact. Historically, revolutionary activity in Paris, St. Petersburg, and Barcelona had been based at least as much in the urban neighborhood as in the workplace. During the Spanish Revolution of 1936-37, the anarchist Friends of Durruti had insisted that “the municipality is the authentic revolutionary government.”

Today, Bookchin argued, urban neighborhoods hold memories of ancient civic freedoms and of struggles waged by the oppressed; by reviving those memories and building on those freedoms, he argued, we could resuscitate the local political realm, the civic sphere, as the arena for self-conscious political self-management.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/magazine/biehl-bookchins-revolutionary-program/ ]

BOOKCHIN: LIVING LEGACY OF AN AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY — DEBBIE BOOKCHIN
One of Murray’s central contributions to Left thought was his insistence, back in the early 1960s, that all ecological problems are social problems. Social ecology starts from this premise: that we will never properly address climate change, the poisoning of the earth with pesticides and the myriad of other ecological problems that are increasingly undermining the ecological stability of the planet, until we address underlying issues of domination and hierarchy. This includes domination based on gender, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation, as well as class distinctions.

Eradicating those forms of oppression immediately raises the question of how to organize society in a fashion that maximizes freedom. So the ideas about popular assemblies presented in this book grow naturally out of the philosophy of social ecology. They address the question of how to advance revolutionary change that will achieve true freedom for individuals while still allowing for the social organization necessary to live harmoniously with each other and the natural world.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/essays/bookchin-interview-social-ecology/ ]

MURRAY BOOKCHIN AND THE KURDISH RESISTANCE — JORIS LEVERINK
Over the past decade, democratic confederalism has slowly but surely become an integral part of Kurdish society. Three elements of Bookchin’s thought have particularly influenced the development of a “democratic modernity” across Kurdistan: the concept of “dual power,” the confederal structure as proposed by Bookchin under the header of libertarian municipalism, and the theory of social ecology which traces the roots of many contemporary struggles back to the origins of civilization and places the natural environment at the heart of the solution to these problems.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/essays/bookchin-kurdish-struggle-ocalan-rojava/ ]

LEARNING FROM THE LIFE OF MURRAY BOOKCHIN — EIRIK EIGLAD
Janet Biehl treats complex ideas with remarkable ease, and the footnotes reveal careful research into the many movements, figures, and events that were significant to his political life.

Biehl extensively researched personal and public archives, and conducted long interviews with old colleagues. Her account is balanced, yet engaging. And it is never “objective.” Indeed, toward the end of the book, Biehl necessarily enters the book, and becomes part of the story. Yet, her account is in no way “self-aggrandizing”—indeed, much of it is not even flattering—but I think overall she provides a fair account of the personal doubts, frailties, and tensions that often accompany an intense political life.

Continue reading… [https://roarmag.org/essays/ecology-or-catastrophe-biehl-bookchin-review/ ]"
2016  murraybookchin  janetbiehl  anarchism  politics  philosophy  urbanism  cities  debbiebookchin  ecology  climatechange  freedom  socialecology  society  jorisleverin  kurds  confederalism  democracy  municipalism  libertarianism  history  environment  sustainability  capitalism  economics  eirikeiglad  gender  ethnicity  race  class  pollution  agriculture  earth  hierarchy  friendsofdurruti  spanishrevolution  stpetersburg  paris  barcelona  revolution  communalism  libertarianmunicipalism 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Pigeon patrol takes flight to tackle London's air pollution crisis | Environment | The Guardian
"Flock of racing pigeons equipped with pollution sensor and Twitter account take to the skies in bid to raise awareness of capital’s illegally dirty air"
pigeons  london  pollution  air  airpolution  birds  2016  sensors 
march 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — counter-constraint #1: non-progress dogma
"The world’s fairs also offer their insights into this dichotic system. For example, Futurama’s hidden agendas are strikingly revealed in E. L. Doctorow’s novel World’s Fair (1985). As a family leaves the exhibit, the father says: ‘“When the time comes General Motors isn’t going to build the highways, the federal government is. With money from us taxpayers.” He smiled. “So General Motors is telling us what they expect from us: we must build them the highways so they can sell us the cars.”’

Bel Geddes’s vision of super-highways largely came true, but so did various dystopian imaginaries that were generated out of the Futurama vision. In ‘Futurama, Autogeddon’, Helen Burgess describes the way in which ‘a messy, always-under-construction, polluted highway system, beaming cheerfully forward into the future, is reflected back to us in the second half of the century as a degraded landscape in J. G. Ballard’s Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition. In these tales,’ Burgess writes,

Bel Geddes’ optimistic narrative of the Interstate has collapsed … because the Interstate system is unsustainable - both narratively and ecologically. The ghosts of the highway call back to us from these future narratives, reminding us that death is just around the next bend.

Progress dogma as an eternally recurring phenomenon

The progress boosterism in the West of the 19th century was followed by two highly regressive world wars. Yet the postwar period saw an almost immediate return to … optimism! Progress dogma was reborn! America, isolated from the worst ravages of the two World Wars, kept blowing the trumpet for progress, and the other western countries followed. The lessons of history continued, and continue, to fall on deaf ears.

Designing counter-constraints

We realise now that we’ve not set ourselves an easy task. These are massive, complex systems that are more easily identified and critiqued than challenged with alternatives. But inaction is no solution. So we’ll go on, inspired by historical examples of how critical approaches have impacted on specific research directions and undermined progress dogma. The public inquiry into genetically modified food development in Europe and the consequent demonising of an entire scientific area (‘Frankenstein foods’) led by certain newspapers is one example of technology being steered away from its intended trajectory. In that case, however, the approach was problematic because the debate was simplified as a contest between good and evil, dystopia vs. utopia, rather than being an open and constructive dialogue. As this article suggests, the reality is often more nuanced and complex than a simple binary opposition can express.

So how do we move toward a more constructive approach to counter-constraints?
Here, as a discussion starter, are some first steps:

1. Stop assuming that, through technology, the future will be better than the present.
2. Be wary of too-positive presentations of technological future solutions.
3. Don’t assume that any of society’s problems will be solved by technology alone.
4. Do assume that for every benefit a new technology brings there will be unforeseen implications.
5. Remember to ask: ‘Progress for whom?’
6. And: ‘What in this specific case does progress actually mean?’
7. Remember that progress is easily confused with automation. Or efficiency.
8. Watch Adam Curtis’s The Century of the Self (and then watch it again).
9. Find ways of encouraging a critical perspective in others, without being a dystopian dick about it.
10. Actively start building the future you want, with or without technology.

One approach where we have first-hand experience and that begins to address point 10 is speculative design, which aims to facilitate a more critical and considered approach to future-formation. By countering the constraints that limit normative design to slavishly serving the market, speculative design is free to present futures that are neither explicitly utopian or dystopian. Using this approach we can explore possible scenarios when specific emerging technologies collide with everyday life. Or we can see what happens when we apply alternative configurations of contemporary technologies or systems to generate fresh perspectives on particular problems (a counter-constraint to constraint no. 2: legacies of the past, which we’ll return to in a future post). Speculation is time well spent.

We’ll give further thought to counter-constraints over a game of ping-pong on our rough-hewn autoprogettazione table, followed by coffee and toast. More, much more, to come. "
crapfutures  counter-constraints  futures  speculativedesign  design  2016  technosolutionism  technology  progress  progressdogma  automation  efficiency  normanbelgeddes  eames  productification  utopia  dystopia  resistance  richardbarbrook  processfatigue  eldoctorow  helenburgess  interstatehighways  cars  history  optimism  sustainability  boosterism  adamcurtis  thecenturyoftheself  statusanxiety  bladerunner  pollution  traffic  futurama  world'sfairs  1939  1964  ibm 
february 2016 by robertogreco
NBER Paper Finds Air Pollution Affects Violent Crime in Chicago - CityLab
"A growing body of scientific literature tells us that air pollution is bad for the brain. Fine particles and ozone are neurological irritants, reducing productivity, weakening cognitive skills, and encouraging anti-social behavior as they enter the body. And as with noise pollution, the physical discomfort induced by breathing air layered with carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide can lead to more aggressive actions, too.

One implication about this research is that air pollution could factor into the one of the worst expressions of a hobbled brain: Violent crime. Like the old chestnut that homicide rates rise with the heat, might poor air quality have a similar psycho-neurological effect?

A new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research says yes: In Chicago, a city trellised by smoggy highways, car pollution has a measurable effect on criminal activity.

Downwind effects

Evan Herrnstadt, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University Center for the Environment, and the co-author Erich Muehlegger, assistant professor of economics at UC Davis, examined data from the Chicago Police Department that accounted for more than two million crimes committed between 2001 to 2012. They zeroed in on criminal activity in neighborhoods that border the interstates that cut through the city: I-90, I-94, I-290, I-55 and I-57, which are major sources of local air pollution. They coupled this crime data with daily NOAA wind direction measurements, taken from weather stations along the highways and in the neighborhoods themselves.

Why look at wind direction? Because pollution wafts with the breeze. For example, “I-290 runs due west from the Chicago city center to the suburbs of Oak Park and Berwyn,” the authors write. “On days when the wind blows from the south, the pollution from the interstate impacts on the north side of the interstate”—and vice versa.

Studying wind direction was also important to their methodology: Herrnstadt says that this allowed them to isolate the causal effect of automobile pollution without too many confounding factors. The researchers could have approached their question by looking at neighborhoods that have become more or less polluted over time, and seeing how crime levels matched up to that trend. But that would introduce lots of factors they would have had to control for, such as local economic conditions and weather effects.

Instead, the researchers looked at how crime related to wind direction in pairs of neighborhoods across the interstate from one another, on the same day. “We use the partner neighborhood as a control group for the other one, depending on which direction the wind is blowing,” says Herrnstadt. Overall crime rates (and their various fluctuations), ambient pollution, and neighborhood economic activity were all factors for which the “upwind” side could act as a control.

Offenders cross a line

(NBER)
The conclusion: On days when they were on the downwind side of the interstate, neighborhoods saw roughly 2.2 percent more violent crimes—homicide, rape, assault, and battery—than they did on upwind days. There was no effect on property crime. What’s more, the increase in violent crime was driven mostly by arrests for aggravated battery, while arrests for aggravated assault actually decrease. That is to say, offenders become more physical engaged with victims.

“We think that’s suggestive of the idea that people are more irritable, more likely to cross a line that they wouldn’t have otherwise crossed,” Herrnstadt says.

Herrnstadt cautions that these findings aren’t predictive; air pollution doesn’t necessarily lead to more crime. “It’s an average effect over time,” he says. There are also caveats about the study to consider: Police data, for example, only reflects crimes that were reported, and can contain inaccuracies about time and location. And the results can’t be directly extrapolated to the rest of the country, since they are specific to the shape and density of the city of Chicago.

A $200 million problem

Still, the study offers environmental policy-makers food for thought. In their conclusion, the researchers make a rough-sketch calculation as to how much pollution-induced crime is costing the U.S., assuming that the criminological effects of air pollution scales with population. Adding up all the tangibles—medical expenses, cash losses, property theft or damage, lost earnings, even the EPA’s statistical value of a life—they estimate (conservatively) that the country loses $100-200 million annually to pollution-induced crime.

For a relatively modest effect on crime (that 2.2 percent uptick), car pollution has significant aggregate costs. And that’s not even counting respiratory disease, cardiovascular inflammation, and all the other long-term outcomes of a brain that can’t quite cut through the smog.

The good news? U.S. cities are becoming way less polluted, on the whole. But for places like Los Angeles, Fresno, and Pittsburgh—which consistently rank as some of the nation’s worst places to breathe—the benefits of cleaner air just keep stacking up."
via:steelemaley  particulates  pollution  behavior  crime  chicago  environment  airpollution 
december 2015 by robertogreco
A mother's appeal: Pollution in Delhi is not just an elite concern
"Come winter, most children, irrespective of whether they live in plush Jorbagh or downmarket Jahangirpuri, will be prone to asthma attacks."

"Over the 20 years in which I have been working on environmental issues, one thing has remained constant – most policy makers in India feel that pollution is a concern of the elite. The country needs to deal with other urgent issues before it considers tackling pollution, they believe. Take the example of Delhi’s worsening air quality. Most policy makers feel that it is a concern for only the affluent folks of South Delhi. I do live in South Delhi, but doesn’t a child living in a slum colony breathe the same toxic fumes that my child does?

According to a 2010 study by the health department, 43% of children in Delhi have impaired lung capacity. This means that, come winter, most children, irrespective of whether they live in plush Jorbagh or downmarket Jahangirpuri, will be prone to asthma attacks. On Diwali night, when the pollution levels rose up to 40 times the permissible limits, all of us breathed the same toxic air. Many of us experienced ashtma attacks. The only difference being that the ones in Jorbagh managed to be able to rush their kids, in their own cars, to a nearby private hospital. The policy makers too breathe the same smoke-filled air. It makes wonder why they don’t take any concrete steps in their own selfish interest.

While we can keep discussing the numbers and the data but most specialists would agree that vehicles are responsible for around 40% of air pollution in Delhi. Large part of this is coming from an ever-increasing number of diesel vehicles in Delhi. We are perhaps the only country in the world that subsidises diesel so that rich can drive SUVs on this cheap fuel. My tax money is used to underwrite diesel that is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a class 1 carcinogen. Can it get more bizarre than this?

Who is influencing regressive policy making? Surely not the auto makers who are investing heavily in reducing pollution from their vehicles. But then these low-emission, BS VI standard, vehicles are meant for Europe, a continent with First World countries. Lungs in a Third World nation like ours can withstand more pollution and hence we allow the automakers to sell cars with a lesser standard, the BS IV, here.

However, this is not an anomaly for the policy makers who repeat their favourite story ad nauseam – the west too was very polluted once; pollution is a necessary evil for growth. This is old economics of the Kuznet curve era; ‘when a nation grows and becomes rich, it has resources to clean up its environment’. Now with better science, we know that climate change is irreversible so we can’t continue to pollute and then clean up later. With better technology, we can leap frog too. We don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Hunger, poverty and homelessness are urgent issues that we need to address here in India. But it is not a case of either/ or. Pollution impacts the poor and the rich and clean air is as fundamental and needs to be addressed now."
delhi  india  pollution  airquality  2015  reenagupta  policy  environment  health  airpollution 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Spreadsheets of power: How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate | The Monthly
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/587013934143574016 ]

"Most people think it is hard to put a dollar value on a human life, but they’re wrong. It’s easy. Economists do it all the time.

Most people think that all human lives are equally valuable. And most think economic modelling is boring, irrelevant to their busy lives, and unrelated to how our democracy is functioning. They’re wrong about those, too.

About ten years ago, a lawyer rang to ask if I would do some (economic) modelling. “It depends,” I said. “What’s the job?”

“We want you to put a dollar value on the life of a dead mother,” said the lawyer. “We are suing a doctor for medical negligence, and the insurance company wants to value her life at zero because she wasn’t working. She had no future earning potential. Can you estimate the value of the housework she would have performed?”

I still feel sad when I think about it: for the family, for myself, and for a society in which asking such a question is not only acceptable but also necessary. The dilemma for the widower and the lawyer, and for me, was that if someone didn’t put a dollar value on the love and care that a mother gives her children, the father would wind up with even less money to care for the kids he would be bringing up by himself.

Of course, economists have no real way to value love and affection, so I valued ironing, laundry and child care instead. I got my hands on data about how mothers with three kids use their time. I found data on the price of buying individual household services like ironing, and the price of live-in maids and nannies. I forecast the age at which the kids would leave home. My forecast was based on a meaningless average of kids who do go to uni and kids who don’t. My spreadsheets were huge, complex, scrupulously referenced and entirely meaningless. Like all good forecasters I estimated the “value” of her life to the cent, and as happens in all good negotiations, the lawyers ultimately settled for a nice round number. The only good thing about the number was that it was bigger than zero.

The topsy-turvy “morality” of economics is built in to models that politicians, lawyers, economists and lobby groups use to persuade the public, in all parts of public life: models that say, for instance, that we can’t afford a price on carbon; that life-saving medicine for some people is “too expensive”; or that the loss of an entire species is justifiable if woodchip prices remain above $100 per tonne.

Everyone who uses economic models to excuse the inexcusable wants you to believe that the models are boring. The last thing they want you to do is to pay attention.

***

Many economists have calculated that it will be cheaper for the world to endure climate change than to prevent it. The models they use to draw this bizarre conclusion are built on thousands of assumptions about everything from the value of human life to the willingness of consumers to buy smaller cars if petrol becomes more expensive. If any one of those assumptions is wrong, the answer will be wrong. If hundreds of the assumptions are out, the answer becomes meaningless. (Some economists then argue that if hundreds of the assumptions are wrong then the errors might cancel each other out. Seriously.)

Imagine you were asked to model the costs of dangerous climate change. Imagine you were in possession of the likely number of people who will die as a result of storms, floods and droughts. Imagine you knew what countries they would die in, and how many years into the future. Would you value all of their lives equally? Would you assume that a Bangladeshi and an American life were “worth” the same? Would you think that the death of a child in 20 years’ time was worth as much as the death of a child in 50 years’ time?

In our democracy, these ethical questions are usually answered by economists, to two decimal places.

Most economic modellers do not assume that all human lives are equal. Bjorn Lomborg, for example, one of the world’s most famous climate sceptics, uses modelling that assumes the lives of people in developing countries are worth a lot less than the lives of Australians or Americans. While the US Declaration of Independence may declare that all men are created equal, most economic models assume that all men (and women) are worth a figure based on the GDP per capita of their country.

Late last year, Bjorn Lomborg asked to meet me, and I wondered whether talking to him would be good fun or a waste of time. It was neither: it was scary and illuminating. After 15 years as the smiling face of climate inactivists, Lomborg had raised his sights. His new mission was to ensure that governments also deliver inaction on global poverty alleviation, public health and gender inequality.

When we met, Lomborg proceeded to explain how his team of economists at the Copenhagen Consensus Center had decided that a number of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals weren’t worth pursuing. His tool of choice for defending such a position? Economic modelling.



You probably didn’t know economists had an assumption about humanity’s primary goal, did you? No wonder developing countries think that the developed countries don’t really care about their suffering as much as our inconvenience. We don’t.

Assumptions such as those made by Summers sit at the heart of the economic models that are regularly used to oppose carbon taxes, support free trade agreements and prevent the introduction of environmental regulations or more generous welfare safety nets.

Much of the power of economists is based on the public’s (understandable) lack of desire to read reports written in algebra. That’s why we like to use algebra.



In 2011, Denmark’s general election saw its centre-right government tossed out of power, to be replaced by a minority centre-left coalition led by the country’s first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center was one of the first casualties of the change of government. When it was announced that its more than $1 million in funding would be cut, Lomborg visited the new prime minister, urging her to reconsider the government’s decision. “I’d love to show you how the Copenhagen Consensus is a good idea,” he was reported as telling her.

“I think that probably might be right, Bjorn,” she reportedly responded to the sceptical environmentalist. “But I will just get so much more mileage out of criticising you.”

Costs and benefits can be calculated any number of ways, and the modeller’s assumptions are crucial to the end result. Lomborg had confidently assumed that the Danish taxpayer would continue to fund his work. His cost–benefit analyses had found that more effort should be put into free trade and less money spent on tackling poverty and climate change. But, as with all such efforts, garbage in, garbage out.

There is a role for economists, and economic modelling, in public debate. Its role should not be to limit the menu of democratic choices. Instead it should be to help explain the trade-offs.

Good modellers aren’t afraid of explaining their assumptions. The clients who pay best, however, don’t want the best modellers. They want people who can write a fat report to slam on the fucking table."
economics  power  democracy  control  2015  economists  ideology  modeling  morality  politics  policy  lobbyists  persuasion  climatechange  justification  capitalism  larrysummers  worldbank  welfare  humanism  humanity  ethics  neoliberalism  richarddenniss  bjornlomborg  copenhagenconsensuscenter  riotinton  consensus  petercostello  joehockey  australia  inequality  poverty  representation  environment  pollution 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The ocean is broken | Newcastle Herald
"IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.

And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he'd had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

"There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn't catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice," Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.

No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.

"In years gone by I'd gotten used to all the birds and their noises," he said.

"They'd be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You'd see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards."

But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.

North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance. …"

[Read on.]
oceans  environment  ocean  fishing  pollution  anthropocene  2013 
october 2013 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels
"The Field Guide is a catalogue of imaginary birds, bioengineered for the anthropocentric world. This speculative birdwatchers companion includes descriptions, behaviours and helpful tips for future sightings. Wander through the city, field guide in hand. These beautiful unnatural specimens will be there with us, after nature,. Spy, high above the rooftop vents, the Green Throated Coal Canary, bioengineered to be sensitive to increased levels of CO2. Track the Red Radars of the Archaeology Institute as they scan the ground for echoes of lost cities, see the luminescent plumage of the Roseshift Canaries as they fan their tails and sing sharply in the clouds of Nitrous Oxide. Explore the engineered ecology, watch these companion birds fly past and listen to their song, a requiem for a changing world. The Singing Sentinels are a vivid expression of life and technology."

[See also: "Silent Spring: A climate Change Acceleration Performance" https://vimeo.com/43378138 ]

"Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe.

‘Singing Sentinels’ by London-based architect Liam Young of Tomorrows Thoughts Today explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. Eighty birds have been released into the New Order exhibition at the Mediamatic Gallery in Amsterdam as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Across the course of the exhibition Liam performed the climate change acceleration piece 'Silent Spring' seen in the film above. As a 'pollution DJ', he flooded the gallery with CO2, altereing the air mixture to replicated the predicted atmospheric changes of the next 100 years. We hear the canary song subtly shift, their rythmn change and eventually silence, as the birds sing a toxic sky- an elegy for a changing planet.

To accompany the exhibition Liam Young, Geoff Manuagh and Tim Maly have written a near future birdwatchers guide "A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels: A Birdwatchers Companion" with illustrations from comic illustrator Paul Duffield. You can see an excerpt and purchase your copy of the limited edition book online here products.liamyoung.org/ "
liamyoung  geoffmanaugh  timmaly  paulduffield  fieldguides  birds  anthropocene  technology  biotechnology  genetics  pollution  environment  droneproject  bioengineering  singingsentinals  climatechange  nature  animals  silentspring 
april 2013 by robertogreco
The Newtown Creek Armada by The Newtown Creek Armada — Kickstarter
"The Newtown Creek Armada is an artist-created model boat pond that will be installed on the Newtown Creek in September 2012. Located on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, the Newtown Creek is one of America's most polluted waterways and a recently designated federal Superfund Site. Visitors to the Newtown Creek Armada will be invited to pilot a fleet of miniature, radio-controlled boats along the creek’s surface while at the same time documenting the hidden world beneath its waters.

Each boat in The Newtown Creek Armada will represent a different aspect of the creek’s unusual past, present and future, and will be equipped with a waterproof camera, allowing participants to record a unique voyage along the creek. Video from these explorations will be on view at the boat pond, giving visitors a chance to virtually immerse themselves its toxic waters, home to the largest urban oil spill in the United States."

[via: https://twitter.com/MatthewBattles/status/257170813424377858 ]
2012  publicart  art  armadas  newtowncreekarmada  superfundsite  superfundsites  newtowncreek  environment  pollution  waterways  boatbuilding  boats  nyc  queens  brooklyn 
october 2012 by robertogreco
New York - Empire of Evolution - NYTimes.com
"Dr. Munshi-South has joined the ranks of a small but growing number of field biologists who study urban evolution — not the rise and fall of skyscrapers and neighborhoods, but the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them. For these scientists, the New York metropolitan region is one great laboratory."
science  urban  environment  evolution  nyc  biology  jasonmunshi-south  paolococco  stephenharris  2011  pollution  change  adaptation 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Dangers in the Air: Aerosol Architecture and Invisible Landscapes: Places: Design Observer
"Aerosolized pig brains [see first paragraph] and various forms of weaponized air suggest we have underestimated the presence of air, and what it can potentially do. Whatever the spur, we need to take seriously the materiality of air. And today, in fact, a growing number of artists and architects are engaging air in new ways. They are exploring air as a design component, studying how airborne particles can be manipulated into various textures, surfaces and spaces. They are transforming the scales at which architects typically work. And they are bringing the multiple temporalities of air into play through designs that actually collect and archive air from different times. This work could bring about a new consciousness and perhaps an expanded understanding of the meaning of a public architecture — an effort to reclaim the air from those who've attempted to control it in irresponsible and dangerous ways."
javierarbona  air  architecture  atmosphere  aerosol  aerosolarchitecture  history  design  smell  pollution  military  landscape  light  art  books  urban  urbanism  health 
november 2010 by robertogreco
'These "positive externalities" need to be highlighted to gain public support for free transit,' | MetaFilter
"Following the examples of programs in several US cities, Erik Olin Wright, a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, believes that switching a free form of public transportation would lead to a number of beneficial side effects. Including reduced air pollution, more efficient labor markets, and less congested highways."
cars  transportation  freetransit  publictransit  masstransit  labor  markets  infrastructure  pollution  sustainability  congestion 
october 2010 by robertogreco
potlatch: is urine the new smog?
"If the future belongs to behavioural economics, it's interesting to consider what might be the next totemic example. Somewhat disappointingly, it appears to be urinary accuracy. Nudge made famous the urinals in Amsterdam Schiphol airport, pictured here on the right, which feature a small picture of a fly (the dot in the centre of the bowl) as a 'nudge' towards greater concentration on the direction of a gentleman's aim. This example became a metaphor for 'libertarian paternalism', of how policy-makers could improve behaviour by altering 'choice architectures'."
economics  behavior  behavioraleconomics  latecapitalism  nature  pollution  society  subjectivity  choice  framing  via:blackbeltjones 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Environmental Performance Index 2010: Home
"The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals."
climate  climatechange  conservation  sustainability  pollution  environment  data  performance  measurement  maps  statistics  research  countries  graphics  rankings 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Design - The Toxic Side of Being, Literally, Green - NYTimes.com
"Kermit was correct, being green really is tough, so tough that the color itself fails dismally. The cruel truth is that most forms of the color green, the most powerful symbol of sustainable design, aren’t ecologically responsible, and can be damaging to the environment.
green  colors  iron  toxicity  contamination  pollution  sustainability 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Nomadic Plants - we make money not art
"Gilberto Esparza first appeared in the radar of bloggers a couple of years ago when he started colonizing Mexico City with Urban Parasites. Made of recycled consumer goods, the small robotic creatures explore the urban space in search of any source of energy they can feed on. Under its quirky, amusing side, the project also had the objective of providing a basis for a critical exploration of the role that technology plays in cities."
nomadicplants  plants  gilbertoesparza  mexico  art  artists  robotics  pollution  cities  biotech  urban 
april 2010 by robertogreco
@UCSD: Borderline
"The environmentally friendly pavers let rainwater drain through and slowly percolate into the soil. The process prevents erosion and reduces flooding hazards, as well as providing water for nearby plant life, before finally ending up adding to the underground aquifers.

With support from the Mexican and U.S. governments, the students are helping canyon residents—mostly women—build and install 70,000 of these handmade pavers to prevent runoff from flowing into the Tijuana River Estuary and adjacent San Diego Bay. Armenta’s shop is providing the materials at a discounted price. The city of Tijuana has agreed to install a sewer system once the pavers are laid."
coloniasanbernardo  oscarromo  ucsd  perviouspavers  pervious  pavers  runoff  contamination  pollution  water  borders  us  mexico  tijuana  2008  rainwater 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Cars pollute even when engines are switched off
"LEAVING the car at home and catching a train to work may not be as good for the environment as you think.
energy  environment  sustcars  transportation  climatechange  pollution  via:cityofsound 
march 2010 by robertogreco
::NoiseTube:: Turn your mobile phone into an environmental sensor and participate to the monitoring of noise pollution
"Noise pollution is a serious problem in many cities. NoiseTube is a research project about a new participative approach for monitoring noise pollution involving the general public. Our goal is to extend the current usage of mobile phones by turning them into noise sensors enabling each citizen to measure his own exposure in his everyday environment. Furthermore each user could also participate to the creation of a collective map of noise pollution by sharing automatically his geolocalized measures with the community.

By installing our free application on your GPS equipped phone, you will be able to measure the level of noise in dB(A) (with a precision a bit lower than a sound level meter), and contribute to the collective noise mapping by annotating it (tagging, subjective level of annoyance) and sending this geolocalized information automatically to the NoiseTube server by internet (GPRS)."

[via: http://www.iftf.org/node/3314 ]
noise  gis  gps  sensors  pollution  crowdsourcing  activism  mapping  environment  maps  experience  sound  monitoring  mobile  research  community  collaborative  audio  soundscape  sensornetworks  noisetube  soundscapes  sounds 
february 2010 by robertogreco
the living: amphibious architecture
"'amphibious architecture' is a new project by the new york city design studio the living. the project specifically uses water as a surface, since it is so ubiquitous in the world, yet under-explored in art and design. the project consists of two networks of floating interactive tubes that feature light beacons on top and a range of sensors below. these sensors 'monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest in the river ecosystem', while the lights respond and 'create feedback loops between humans, fish, and their shared environment'. 'an SMS interface allows citizens to text-message the fish, to receive real-time information about the river, and to contribute to a display of collective interest in the environment.’"

[more: http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/ AND http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/amphibiousarchitecture.htm ]
realtime  fish  pollution  water  waterquality  art  design  sensors  iphone  nyc 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
"So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush."
politics  business  environment  government  canada  energy  2009  capitalism  democracy  climatechange  oil  pollution  oilsands  georgemonbiot 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Reykjavík’s dirty little secret - TH!NK ABOUT IT
"My country, Iceland, likes to market itself as a place with an endless stream of pure, clean air and pristine natural landscapes – all hyped up for the tourist brochures.*
iceland  pollution  airquality  reykjavík 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Pacific Ocean 'dead zone' in Northwest may be irreversible -- latimes.com
"Oxygen depletion that is killing sea life off Oregon and Washington is probably caused by evolving wind conditions from climate change, rather than pollution, one oceanographer warns."
environment  sustainability  climatechange  pollution  pacific  ocean  water  oceanography  cascadia  oregon  washingtonstate  via:javierarbona 
october 2009 by robertogreco
The Tricorder Arrives § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Cell phones will soon be able to sense our environment and its pollutants. This new power may change the way we move through the world, but can it motivate us to change it?"
iphone  applications  sensors  mobile  phones  tcsnmy  classprojects  activism  environment  pollution  csiap  ios 
may 2009 by robertogreco
California, once a dream state, strives to get back its groove | csmonitor.com
"Contributing to lawmakers' fight to close a $42 billion budget deficit – the largest budget gap by any state in American history – is a litany of other problems: crumbling infrastructure, water shortages, prison overcrowding, gang crime, traffic congestion and smog, illegal immigration, and sliding school performance." Compare to Time's November 18, 1991 issue: http://delicious.com/url/9ad4e6c1e97e4df2dedc079d34cc8932 AND http://timeinc8-sd11.websys.aol.com/time/magazine/0,9263,7601911118,00.html
california  crisis  2009  finance  schools  education  immigration  pollution  environment  smog  infrastructure  water  prisons  crime  traffic  transportation 
february 2009 by robertogreco
California: The Endangered Dream: November 18, 1991 Vol. 138 No. 20 [TIME Magazine: U.S. Edition]
"The classic formula says California, the richest and most populous state, is the future. California is America's bright, strange cultural outrider: whatever happens now in California, or to California, will be happening to America before long, and to the entire world a little while after that. If you want to know whether America still works, then ask whether California still works. Does the reckless American hospitality to immigrants still accomplish its transformations and synergies? Can America still absorb so many disparate values and traditions and form them into a successful society? Or will the nation vanish into an incoherent future? Consult California."

[I remember reading this issue shortly before or shortly after moving here.]
california  1991  1992  economics  immigration  population  migration  pollution  environment  losangeles  sanfrancisco  sandiego  history  crime  recession  crisis 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Vodafone | receiver » Blog Archive » The rise of the sensor citizen – community mapping projects and locative media
"We often think of mobile technologies simply in terms of their communication capabilities, but their increasing ability to trace our movements and collect information about the spaces through which we pass, can also make it easier for people to keep track of the places and things that matter most to them. From geo-visualisations and mapping mash-ups, to the mobile geospatial web and location-based services, people’s relationships to places (and each other) are changing."
annegalloway  ubicomp  mapping  interaction  location  locative  culture  design  practice  spatial  social  sensing  sensors  mobile  phones  globawarming  pollution 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Biomimicry Guild - Innovation Consultancy for Bio-Inspired Design
"Since 1998, the Guild has been helping companies and communities find, vet, understand and emulate life's time-tested strategies.
biology  biomimicry  technology  architecture  ecology  environment  sustainability  pollution  earth  innovation  design  green  biomimetics 
october 2008 by robertogreco
FLOTspotting : Cellphone air quality sensor by Alistair Bramley - Core77
"Finally, something the iphone doesn't do, yet... "Interzone aims to build on the work of Sensor Planet: a Nokia Research Center initiated program on large-scale sensor networks that is interested in combining the physical and the virtual worlds through new ways of sensing." This project is a sensor that would work in conjunction with a mobile phone to provide information to the user about local air quality."
mobile  phones  shannonspanhake  airquality  environment  pollution  sensors  crowdsourcing  data  local 
august 2008 by robertogreco
10 Things You Can Like About $4 Gas - TIME
"1. Globalized jobs return home; Sprawl stalls; Four day workweeks; Less pollution; More frugality; Fewer traffic deaths; Cheaper Insurance; Less Traffic; More Cops on the Beat; Less obesity"
energy  behavior  consumption  health  safety  cars  green  traffic  cities  pollution  economics  sprawl  society  change  reform  fuel 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Mexico City pollution eroding residents’ sense of smell | csmonitor.com
"researcher at Mexico’s National Autonomous University in Mexico City and her team found that residents of the capital were less able to detect common odors like coffee and orange juice than those in a nearby town with low air pollution."
pollution  smell  senses  environment  mexico  mexicodf  food  df  mexicocity 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Calit2 : Tracking Pollution and Social Movement: Love Fest for Calit2 Technologies at 'Make Fest 2007'
"For Calit2 postdoctoral researcher Shannon Spanhake, it meant putting her Calit2-funded mobile air pollution monitor through its paces - while giving press interviews between demonstrations."
mobile  phones  sandiego  ucsd  monitoring  sensors  shannonspanhake  make  personalinformatics  pollution  bluetooth  technology  art  environment  engineering  science  mobility  nataliejeremijenko  calit2  glvo  classideas  via:blackbeltjones  etech 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Shannon Spanhake: Meet Squirrel, a Personal Pollution Monitor | Visarts-Drupal
"Since 1990, San Diego’s population rose by 1.8m people, yet # of official pollution monitors increased by 1. UCSD engineer-turned-artist Shannon Spanhake has come up w/ new&better way to monitor environment: personal pollution sensor called Squirrel."
bluetooth  data  environment  personalinformatics  shannonspanhake  pollution  ucsd  classideas  sandiego  science  art  engineering  sensors  mobile  phones  monitoring  make  technology  mobility  nataliejeremijenko  calit2  glvo  via:blackbeltjones  etech 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Southern Exposure: Vapor featuring work by Amy Balkin, Futurefarmers, Natalie Jeremijenko, The Living, Eric Paulos, and Preemptive Media
"Vapor is a survey of new art, architecture and design that takes our declining air quality as the subject matter, medium and metaphor for creative work. Often inspired by forms of activism, the works react to the sources of climate change through the use
art  atmosphere  california  sustainability  pollution  urban  sanfrancisco  nataliejeremijenko  futurefarmers  amyfranceschini 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Air Monsters
"Air Monsters is a mobile instrument that seeks to explore the issue of air pollution. This is achieved by a fictional narrative of invisible monsters that resides in the air which metaphorically represents the air pollutants in the air."
arduino  microcontrollers  sensors  air  health  processing  environment  pollution  sustainability 
april 2008 by robertogreco
The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard
"The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to cre
environment  sustainability  consumerism  consumption  activism  materials  materialism  industry  globalization  globalwarming  plannedobsolescence  obsolescence  capitalism  carbon  conservation  consumers  simplicity  society  visualization  waste  pollution  trade  gamechanging  green  economics  global  us  production 
april 2008 by robertogreco
futuratronics: Buenos Aires bajo humo: un pequeño simulacro apocalíptico
"Demostró, encima, cuan rápido puede cambiar la realidad de una ciudad. Es como una prueba en miniatura de una catástrofe climática a nivel global. Un pequeño Apocalipsis pintoresco. Después vendrá el de verdad. Vayamos practicando."
buenosaires  argentina  sciencefiction  scifi  yearoff  smoke  air  pollution  fire  glvo  comics 
april 2008 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Map shows toll on world's oceans
"Only about 4% of the world's oceans remain undamaged by human activity, according to the first detailed global map of human impacts on the seas."
climate  ecology  ecosystems  environment  impact  marine  maps  oceans  pollution  science  world  research  via:foe 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Black Cloud: Air is a Finite Resource
"Black Cloud curriculum is organized around an Alternate Reality game in which students track down wireless air quality sensors. These sensors are hidden in the students’ neighborhood at environmentally critical locations."
games  education  learning  environment  sustainability  cities  pollution  conservation  sensors  maps  mapping  location-based  wireless  data 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Pollstream...intervention in environmental ethics...monitoring localised pollution at the very same time they produce it
"Smoker's lamp emitting a low oscillation...Nuage Vert makes the chimney function into community measuring tape...pollution data sonified and transmitted over FM radio...what might pollution sound like...how to define pollution within electromagnetic spec
pollution  environment  sustainability  data  datavisualization  visualization  sound  audio  radio  activism  monitoring  behavior  ethics  community 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Living City: A Prototype Building Skin that Breathes in Response to Air Quality
"In the future, walls will breathe. Construction materials and systems that have been inert for thousands of years will respond in real-time to the dynamic conditions of their surrounding environments and to a larger network of data. Architecture will com
cities  future  nyc  pollution  urban  design  materials 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Six Ideas That Will Change the World - Esquire
"six researchers with six ideas that will one day change the world. 1: Breaking Down the Firewall 2: Elctronic Skin 3: The Pollution Magnet 4: Machines That Fix Themselves 5: Burying Our CO2 6: The Next Plastic"
futurism  future  materials  freedom  internet  web  online  technology  climatechange  pollution  carbon  nanotechnology  science  environment  invention 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Walking to the shops ‘damages planet more than going by car’ - Times Online
"Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance."
agriculture  business  cars  climate  CO2  data  debate  ecology  earth  development  efficiency  energy  environment  opinion  skepticism  statistics  sustainability  globalwarming  pollution  population  waste  politics  planet  perspective 
august 2007 by robertogreco
Researchers find 'large is smart' when it comes to cities
"Cities are considered by many to be a blessing and a curse. Large cities generate considerable wealth, they are home to many high paying jobs and are seen as engines of innovation. But cities also generate pollution, crime and poor social structures that
architecture  cities  consumption  design  biology  ecology  economics  environment  geography  innovation  mapping  pollution  population  research  science  space  planning  wealth  urbanism  urban  systems  structure 
june 2007 by robertogreco
THE GREENS
"A site for kids about looking after the planet."
animation  children  education  environment  sustainability  youth  media  pollution  ecology  flash 
may 2007 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Great streets, campuses, and pedestrian nostalgia
"What was genuinely never discussed, though, was not the idea that we need more highways and parking lots and one-way express lanes because everyone owns a car, but that everyone owns a car because they're surrounded by highways and parking lots and one-w
architecture  culture  landscape  nostalgia  oil  space  urban  colleges  universities  street  losangeles  local  design  urbanism  cars  transportation  environment  pedestrians  us  europe  walking  bikes  pollution  public  society 
may 2007 by robertogreco
Participatory Urbanism
"Participatory Urbanism presents an important new shift in mobile device usage - from communication tool to “networked mobile personal measurement instrument”."
activism  collaborative  mobile  phones  networks  participatory  pollution  projects  technology  tools  ubicomp  location-based  location  local  locative  science  environment  green  community  urban  cities  urbanism  mapping  maps  geography 
april 2007 by robertogreco
Streets Are Paved With Neon’s Glare, and City Calls a Halt - New York Times
"Come the new year, this city [São Paulo] of 11 million, overwhelmed by what the authorities call visual pollution, plans to press the “delete all” button and offer its residents an unimpeded view of their surroundings."
cities  visual  pollution  advertising  sãopaulo  brasil  latinamerica  urban  urbanism  design  brazil 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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