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robertogreco : terraforming   10

6, 52: Continuity
"Pleistocene Park has been in the news, maybe off this Independent coverage. My hunch is that rewilding and de-extinction (and cautious geoengineering generally) are probably great ideas and we’ll come to regret that we didn’t do our scientific and political due diligence earlier. But that’s only a strong opinion weakly held, and what seems more interesting now is understanding how Pleistocene Park, as a flagship, plays in the media.

It’s telling, for example, that Jurassic Park is so often the introductory metaphor. A few months ago, this newsletter mentioned the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, another private rewilding project that’s more radical in at least five ways: (1) how close it is to people, (2) how far back in time it goes, (3) that it’s rewilding a species that was naturally locally extinct, (4) in terms of biomass turnover, and (5) how far along it is – already finding previously undocumented behavior. But Crescent Ridge is only charismatic megaflora, and Pleistocene Park just has to say “mammoth” to be news.

I think some of that comes down to people fearing mammoths. There’s maybe a sense that we would be in competition, that in a few years they might be intimidating joggers in Yakutsk and trampling wheat fields in Irkutsk. In other words, that large wild animals should probably not exist.

– I had buffalo burger for brunch today. The bison were the largest North American animals to survive the climate change and hunting at the end of the last glacial maximum. There were something like 25,000,000 of them before the United States. In 1890, there were about 1,100. Now there are about 500,000, many of them more or less sustainably ranched.

– Via @annegalloway’s more-than-human lab’s tumblr, 3,200 toy tigers around space for 40,000."



"Tangentially: the nearest big city to Bisie is Goma, on the Rwandan border, between Lake Kivu and Mount Nyiragongo. @jw_rosen has just written two articles about Goma and the lake: After years of war, Goma, DRC, is open for business and (with lovely photographs by Jason Florio) Lake Kivu’s Great Gas Gamble. Rosen is wary of many of the traps that certain other Western journalists are stuck in like wasps in bottles when they try to talk about the region. The gorillas, for example. Or the old National Geographic angle that I remember someone parodying with a line like “Biknis and Uzis: Beautiful, Troubled Brazil is a Land of Contrasts at a Crossroads”. Rosen manages to show a picture of Goma that encompasses complexity without absurdly exoticizing it, that can show M23, Au Bon Pain, natural disasters, and kombucha without being like “See?! This place is weirder than your place!”

(There are a couple angles here that I’m saving for another time, but just because I want to, here are two Goma-related videos I enjoyed: a cover of Pharrell’s Happy and Lake Kivu – Bukavu to Goma.)"



"This morning I read about the Mediterranean drownings, and the unidentified bodies of people who die of dehydration while crossing the border into Arizona, and then rich countries’ hesitations about bringing in Syrian refugees. I see the camps, you know. In the satellite imagery. It’s not as important as listening to the people in them. But helps me relate in other ways. The big ones – Zaatari, Dadaab – are as big as cities. They are cities, cities on life support.

My grandfather’s family were Czech Jews who narrowly avoided the Holocaust. The wealthy nations wouldn’t give them visas. Everyone could see what Hitler was up to. But the US and others still had antisemitic – anti–virtually-everyone – immigration quotas. When it mattered, there were two places in the world that would let them in: China and Bolivia. They went to Bolivia, and as antisemitism became less fashionable toward the end of the war they got to come to America. I’m grateful for what continuity I have with them: the saved letters, the family traits in stories. When I see people dying to cross borders today, I see more continuity. Not same-ness, just continuity. I can’t see people as desperate as my ancestors were and pretend it’s completely different. Everyone in danger of their life deserves help. They don’t earn that responsibility from the rest of us. They just have it, by being a person.

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, how can we guarantee that among these starving people and enemies of oppressive states there isn’t anyone who might fractionally lessen our own sense of security?”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, first we have to process them!”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, there’s all this darn paperwork!”

The thing about geography, for me, is continuity. Everywhere is related in calculable ways to everywhere else. There are walls on the ground, but the numbers move smoothly through them. The numbers come from land grabs and military ballistics. We can use them as invisible but omnipresent reminders that you can get there from here.

When I was small, I was used to worldbuilding fiction where the writer had left some things undiscovered. Often this must have been a way to build an ethos of mystery, of romance, of potential, of nascence. Other times it was probably a practical way of leaving options open for the settings of later books in the series. It was very unfair that on the real globe, everything habitable was explored. It felt mean to give the reader a world without the potential for huge lost societies who might have figured out a lot of surprising stuff. “This is all you get.” Rude."
africa  euope  us  migration  immigration  refugees  2015  charlieloyd  borders  border  mexico  congo  drc  bisie  goma  mining  lakekivu  landsat  landsat9  rewilding  crescentridgedawnredwoodspreserve  de-extinction  mammoths  magaflora  magafauna  science  sustainability  terraforming  bison  biomass  pleistocenepark  geoengineering  anthropocene  humanism  personhood  compassion  continuity  geography  society  policy  politics  politicalgeography  safety  security  fear 
april 2015 by robertogreco
'Grid Meets the Hills' shows terrain shaping S.F. - SFGate
"To the extent that the phrase rings any sort of bell, "urban events" may bring to mind visions of a flash mob, a street fair or a parade with corporate sponsors.

In San Francisco, it also can mean those spots where topography and real estate collide - the seductive disruptions that in turn embody what this city has come to be.

Contentious friction absorbed by the whole, again and again and again.

This is a roundabout introduction to the best book on San Francisco I've read in years, Florence Lipsky's "San Francisco: The Grid Meets the Hills." A French architect, Lipsky uses historical maps and her own eye-popping cartography images to show how surveyors and planners tackled the steep-hilled reality of our peninsula terrain. Beyond that, she explores how the lay of the land alters not just what we see, but how we see.

"Nature and Architecture blend to compose a city that is alternately triumphant, modest and familiar," Lipsky writes. "San Francisco's identity resides more in the ebb and flow of its streets than in the Transamerica Tower. ... More in its spaces than the volumes that define them.""
books  history  sanfrancisco  hills  geography  topography  planning  urban  urbanism  design  architecture  maps  mapping  florencelipsky  1999  terrain  terraforming  terrainshaping  via:alexismadrigal 
july 2014 by robertogreco
How Los Angeles Erased Hills From Its Urban Core
"In 1912, Los Angeles considered an audacious plan to reshape its topography. A group calling itself the Bunker Hill Razing and Regrading Association proposed to pump water from the Pacific Ocean, pipe it 20 miles to the city center, and spray the seawater through high-pressure jets against a ridge of hills to the immediate northwest of downtown Los Angeles. In all, the project would sluice away some 20 million cubic yards of shale and sandstone that residents knew as Bunker and Fort Moore hills.

Ultimately dismissed as impractical, the association's plan was only the first of several schemes to erase the hills from the city's landscape. In the late 1920s, before the Great Depression intervened, the city came close to adopting another plan by C.C. Bigelow, a mining baron well-versed in the art of hydraulicking.

Among American cities, the proposals were not without precedent. Seattle had washed away 27 blocks of Denny Hill between 1908 and 1911. In 1912, Portland used some of the same machinery to flatten Goldsmith Hill.

In Los Angeles, the proposals targeted what business interests and civic leaders saw as an obstacle to the city's growth. Suburbs like Hollywood and Colegrove boomed on the plains to the city's northwest, but the hills made these new towns difficult to reach from downtown by streetcar. Because they could not scale the hills' steep eastern faces, the trolleys circled around the hills, creating bottlenecks on the few routes out of downtown.

At first, the city carved deep road cuts and bored tunnels into the hills to relieve congestion, but regrading offered a more comprehensive solution.

Traffic relief was not the only justification. Regrading offered the prospect of new, vacant real estate to a dense central business district that found itself cornered-in by the hills. Though the city's most fashionable neighborhood had once perched itself atop Bunker Hill, the fashionable people had moved on, and the structures they left behind took on an increasingly shabbier appearance. Regrading proposals promised to wipe the architectural slate clean. And in later years, as Bunker Hill's population became older, poorer, and more multi-ethnic, the proposals also promised to remove communities deemed undesirable by developers.

A more modest plan eventually accomplished those goals without razing the hill entirely. In the 1960s, L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency oversaw an urban renewal program that scraped some 30 feet of soil from the top of Bunker Hill and replaced the existing built environment with 27 virgin superblocks cleared for high-rise development.

But other hills—landmarks for more than a century—did recede from downtown L.A.'s landscape."
losangeles  history  terraforming  geography  topography 
december 2013 by robertogreco
When Earth is Scarred Forever
"Our planet is covered in pockmarks so deep that they can be seen from space. Some were caused by asteroid strikes, but most are the result of human meddling. Here are some of the most incredible examples of the scarred Earth."
earth  mining  landforms  terraforming  2013  photography 
may 2013 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Spacesuit: An Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux
"I was looking for a way to discuss the essential lessons of complexity and emergence—which, even in 2003, were pretty unfamiliar words in the context of design—and I hit upon this research on the spacesuit as the one thing I’d done that could encapsulate the potential lessons of those ideas, both for scientists and for designers. The book really was a melding of these two things."

"But then the actual spacesuit—this 21-layered messy assemblage made by a bra company, using hand-stitched couture techniques—is kind of an anti-hero. It’s much more embarrassing, of course—it’s made by people who make women’s underwear—but, then, it’s also much more urbane. It’s a complex, multilayered assemblage that actually recapitulates the messy logic of our own bodies, rather than present us with the singular ideal of a cyborg or the hard, one-piece, military-industrial suits against which the Playtex suit was always competing.

The spacesuit, in the end, is an object that crystallizes a lot of ideas about who we are and what the nature of the human body may be—but, then, crucially, it’s also an object in which many centuries of ideas about the relationship of our bodies to technology are reflected."

"The same individuals and organizations who were presuming to engineer the internal climate of the body and create the figure of the cyborg were the same institutions who, in the same context of the 1960s, were proposing major efforts in climate-modification.

Embedded in both of those ideas is the notion that we can reduce a complex, emergent system—whether it’s the body or the planet or something closer to the scale of the city—to a series of cybernetically inflected inputs, outputs, and controls. As Edward Teller remarked in the context of his own climate-engineering proposals, “to give the earth a thermostat.”"

"most attempts to cybernetically optimize urban systems were spectacular failures, from which very few lessons seem to have been learned"

"architecture can be informed by technology and, at the same time, avoid what I view as the dead-end of an algorithmically inflected formalism from which many of the, to my mind, less convincing examples of contemporary practice have emerged"

"connections…between the early writing of Jane Jacobs…and the early research done in the 1950s and 60s on complexity and emergence under the aegis of the Rockefeller Foundation"

"Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt—who have gone a long way in showing that, not only should cities be viewed through the analogical lens of complex natural systems, but, in fact, some of the mathematics—in particular, to do with scaling laws, the consumption of resources, and the production of innovation by cities—proves itself far more susceptible to analyses that have come out of biology than, say, conventional economics."
militaryindustrialcomplex  tools  cad  gis  luisbettencourt  janejacobs  meatropolis  manhattan  meat  property  fakestates  alancolquhoun  lizdiller  cyberneticurbanism  glenswanson  parametricarchitecture  parametricurbanism  interstitialspaces  urbanism  urban  bernardshriever  simonramo  neilsheehan  jayforrester  housing  hud  huberthumphrey  vitruvius  naca  smartcities  nyc  joeflood  husseinchalayan  cushicle  michaelwebb  spacerace  buildings  scuba  diving  1960s  fantasticvoyage  adromedastrain  quarantine  systemsthinking  matta-clark  edwardteller  climatecontrol  earth  exploration  spacetravel  terraforming  humanbody  bodies  cyborgs  travel  mongolfier  wileypost  management  planning  robertmoses  cybernetics  materials  fabric  2003  stewartbrand  jamescrick  apollo  complexitytheory  complexity  studioone  geoffreywest  cities  research  clothing  glvo  wearables  christiandior  playtex  interviews  technology  history  design  science  fashion  nasa  books  spacesuits  architecture  space  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  2012  nicholasdemonchaux  wearable  elizabethdiller  interstitial  bod 
november 2012 by robertogreco
O, Song!, Ecological Criminal Tips Lost Heavy Parasite
Charles Darwin’s Ecological Experiment On Ascension Isle by Howard Falcon-Lang (BBC News) [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11137903]: "Is there no end to all the cool stuff Darwin did that we’re only just discovering or figuring out? I mean, first we discovered that he did one of the very first modern psychology experiments, and now we’ve discovered that he did an experiment to colonise the barren Ascension island with trees that could form the basis of a terraforming of Mars. Maybe atheists should get wrist bands that have WWCDD written on them, because let’s face it, if the answer is “terraform Mars”, it’s a good question."
darwin  ascensionisland  psychology  ecology  science  history  terraforming  charlesdarwin 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis » Bending Mars
"I believe that exploration is necessary to the human spirit. But even if you don’t share that particular delusion, I think most people would agree that any kind of extinction is bad."
warrenellis  mars  exploration  future  scifi  sciencefiction  terraforming  survival  science  life  extinction  space  gamechanging  via:blackbeltjones 
june 2008 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Colored Magma
"Unsupervised geological interventions are the future of landscape architecture. What Ted Turner did for film, we will do for geology: the re-colorization of the planet."
bldgblog  design  geography  geology  terraforming  color  chile  landscape  magma  art 
january 2008 by robertogreco
geeKyoto » We were talking about tectonic warefare
"How started: Living in Philiy, taking free morning course on Archigram, reading lots of Ballard. Depressed & Claustrophobic. Started to write about interests/desires...Changed his life...blogger=free, like sunlight...no responsibility to write there, wri
geoffmanaugh  bldgblog  future  sustainability  earth  terraforming  mars  climate  solastalgia  change  human  evolution  time  jgballard  landscape  architecture  presentations  climatechange  culture  forecasting  blogging  blogs 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Blackbeltjones/Work: » “The Earth is becoming unearthly” - Geoff Manaugh/BLDGBLOG at The Bartlett
"Archigram x Ballard x Philadelphia x depression x claustrophobia = start of bldgblog" "The interaction between architecture, weight and the earth’s surface could be further explored" "The new landscapes of the sublime are off-world"

[Now at: http://magicalnihilism.com/2008/01/23/geoff-manaughbldgblog-at-the-bartlett/ ]
geoffmanaugh  bldgblog  future  sustainability  earth  terraforming  mars  climate  solastalgia  change  human  evolution  time  jgballard  landscape  architecture  presentations  climatechange  culture  forecasting  mattjones 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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