Failing to curb emissions puts Earth on "catastrophic pathway"

September 20, 2021 by  
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According to a new United Nations report, the world will face catastrophic weather events unless governments cut greenhouse gas emissions. The report reviewed all the commitments submitted by the Paris accord signatories and found that they would result in a 16% rise in greenhouse gasses by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. Scientists have warned that the world will be uninhabitable if governments do not curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming under a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase. Extreme events such as flooding, disease outbreaks and droughts would lead to massive losses of life if this were to happen. Related: It’s code red for Earth, says new UN study “The world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7 degrees (Celsius) of heating,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “We need a 45% cut in emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.” In 2015, 200 countries made environmental pledges as part of the Paris Agreement . However, most countries have been slow to show serious commitment. In the latest review, the U.N. found that 113 countries had updated their commitments, with the latest submissions made by 30 July. Emission targets, commonly known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs, are vital in determining cumulative emissions. For the countries that submitted targets, the U.N. report found that there would be a 12% drop in emissions by the end of the decade. “That’s the positive side of the picture,” U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said. “The other one is more sobering.” The other side of the picture is that many major emitters did not submit commitments. This includes countries such as China , Saudi Arabia and India. Espinosa has now called for leaders from these countries and more to submit stronger commitments at the U.N. gathering in New York this week. “Leaders must engage in a frank discussion driven not just by the very legitimate desire to protect national interest, but also by the equally commanding goal of contributing to the welfare of humanity,” Espinosa said. “We simply have no more time to spare, and people throughout the world expect nothing less.” Via PBS and The New York Times Lead image via Pixabay

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Failing to curb emissions puts Earth on "catastrophic pathway"

Ariake Gymnastics Centre resembles a floating ship

September 2, 2021 by  
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The Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo Japan was designed for dual uses to provide for both a significant short-term competition and ongoing events. The architectural design, presented by Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation, relies heavily on  natural materials  for both a sustainable finish and a reflection of the area’s history.  Dubbed, “A Wooden Vessel Floating in the Bay Area,” the Ariake Gymnastics Centre was equipped with a layout meant to house a temporary international sports competition in response to a request by the client, The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. After the event, the spectator stands were made removable for easy conversion into a permanent exhibition hall. Related: ZHA designs sustainable expansion to China’s largest international exhibition center Nearly every surface is constructed from  wood  — a nod to the district that previously housed a log pond. Timber is used extensively throughout the building, including the roof frame structure, facade, spectator seats and exterior walls. Lightweight, durable and fireproof steel was used for the framing. The finished building looks like a floating wooden vessel from across the waterway.  The wood also caters to the acoustic and thermal needs of the arena and serves to achieve a light overall site impact in an area that may have poor soil conditions. Glued laminate timber has a high capacity for heat, making it fire resistant. The overall simple design honors the essence of traditional Japanese architecture.  The Ariake Gymnastics Centre is located along a canal, allowing for an expansive public space. Although surrounded by nearby residential condominiums , the arena puts a focus on a low design rather than competing with the height of other buildings in the vicinity.  Developers also emphasized taking advantage of outdoor space, with expansive boardwalks along the  water’s  edge. The entryway is kept outside the building instead of being included in the interior space. This allows for a smaller footprint from building materials as well as physical space.  + Nikken Sekkei Ltd. Via ArchDaily Images via Nikken Sekkei Ltd. 

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Ariake Gymnastics Centre resembles a floating ship

Sicily hits record high temperature amid heatwave

August 12, 2021 by  
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In the latest extreme  weather  news, Europe has set a new record high temperature. Sicily hit 48.8 degrees Celsius this week, or 119.85 Fahrenheit, according to a reading at a Syracuse, Sicily monitoring station. At press time, the record high hadn’t yet been verified by the World Meteorological Organization. But if the organization accepts the reading, it will be the hottest day in recorded  European  history. The previous record was 48 degrees Celsius (118.4 Fahrenheit), set in 1977 in Athens, Greece. Related: It’s code red for Earth, says new UN study “Sicily has been experiencing a heatwave in the last few days,” said U.K. meteorologist Trevor Mitchell, as reported by The Guardian. “The foehn effect in the lee of the mountains to the west of Syracuse is likely to have assisted in generating the 48.8C observed there today.” This weather phenomenon happens when air is forced over  mountains  or other elevated terrains, changing from wet and cold conditions on one side to drier and warmer on the other. Sicily is one hotspot in a hemisphere of blazing weather this week. Canada, Finland, the western U.S., Turkey, Estonia and Moscow have all been breaking heat records. Then there are the terrifying wildfires in  Siberia’s  biggest forest and deadly floods in China and Germany. Scottish meteorologist Scott Duncan predicts more heat records are on the way. “A dangerous  heatwave  spanning much of north Africa and into southern Europe is unfolding right now,” he tweeted. “The focus of heat will shift west and north slightly in the coming days.” Humans, in our irksome humanness, manage to be shocked by these extreme weather catastrophes despite having been warned for several decades. “This is climate change in 3D. It is here,” said Owen Gaffney, an analyst at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, as reported by The Guardian. “We are radically changing the  climate  system so hot areas will get hotter, wet areas will get wetter. We are going to get more extremes.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Live, work and shop at this green building in France

August 12, 2021 by  
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The Partenord Habitat Plot in the Porte de Valenciennes neighborhood in Lille, France , eliminates the idea of a pollution-creating commute to work. In this design, office space, housing and retail areas are all integrated into one. Three sections of the building work together in an integrated design. The offices, headquarters and housing all share the same foundation. The housing section includes 50 units, and there are seven different office spaces. On either side of the headquarters, there are five retail units. The headquarters for Partenord Habitat, the Nord Department Public Housing Office, is a main feature of the space. It sits at the corner of the lot. There is also a car park with 232 underground parking spaces for the housing, office and retail areas. Related: Experimental, ecological home is inspired by a tree in France The building has several distinct architectural features. Terracotta cladding was used for the exterior. Meanwhile, three sides of the building are made with reflective glass, creating a mirror-like shine. As for eco-friendly features, the building is built on them. Graywater will be recovered and stored, solar panels are integrated into the design and digital radiators help create an environment dedicated to optimizing electricity consumption. The heat recovery from the headquarters will provide for 80% of the winter heating needed for the housing units. There’s also a garden built right into the ground on the ground floor. This space also has support facilities, an atrium, a print shop and a bike shed. The triple-height atrium is right at the corner of the crossroads, the entrance to the headquarters. On the ninth floor terrace is the shared vegetable garden. This space faces the center of the design so that it’s protected from the wind. It’s accessible through shared areas. There is also ramp access for those with limited mobility. The 10th-floor terrace houses solar panels. Created by the team at Coldefy, this innovative design won a 2017 competition for Partenord Habitat’s new headquarters. + Coldefy Photography by Julien Lanoo

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Live, work and shop at this green building in France

What the smart roads of the future might look like

August 6, 2021 by  
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Technology is advancing at lightning speed, setting us up to look like we live in a sci-fi film. While the first flying cars are actually achieving lift off already, nations around the world are investing in new infrastructure, with varying results that could be the new normal in our lifetime. Taking a look at the possibilities for future roadway innovations, Compare the Market, a consumer research company, has outlined some road technologies that are currently in development. Solar roads Solar roads work much like any other type of solar surface, except they won’t be made of glass panels. Instead, solar roads are equipped with durable crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that can be walked and driven on with no damage to the surface. There are a few challenges to address with solar roads, such as the significant cost compared to traditional asphalt, and the fact that the road really needs to be aimed in the sun’s direction for the best results. It appears it will be more likely this technology will be used as a supplement rather than as a primary energy-producing solution. Related: Valet proposes a prefab parklet system for Milan’s roads   Piezoelectric roads Unlike solar roads , piezoelectric roads produce energy thanks to a material that is mixed in beneath the surface of the road. The crystals actually absorb the energy transfer from the weight of the tires on the road’s surface. The resulting electricity can be funneled into the local grid or used on the road’s surface and surrounding area to power LED lights and smart technology. LED roads LED technology could replace the painted lines on roadways, improving visibility in all weather conditions. In conjunction with smart technology, the lights could also alert drivers to lane closures with warnings centralized in each lane. Sensors, pressure plates and security cameras with motion-capture technology are all being integrated into LED systems to prompt lane changes or signal danger ahead. LED roads can also improve energy efficiency by only lighting up when cars drive on them. Electric roads Where solar and piezoelectric roads can provide power to the city grid, electric roads create a surface that charges electric vehicle batteries as they drive, eliminating the need to stop for charging or worry about range restrictions. In current trials, there are still some kinks to work out, but if the innovation continues, electric roads will revolutionize the EV industry. Self-repairing roads Scientists and municipalities are experimenting with materials that self-repair the surface of asphalt. Currently being trialed in The Netherlands and China, self-repairing roads are made up of a special mixture that will automatically melt and reform to fill holes in the surface when a damage sensor is alerted. This technology can be used in conjunction with piezoelectric crystals beneath the surface. Repairs may take around three hours, which would require closing lanes but would eliminate the need for work crews onsite. According to Compare the Market, “It’s estimated that having worldwide self-repairing roads could reduce global emissions by 16% and lower infrastructure spending by 32%.” Smart road networks Smart technology allows different systems to communicate with each other. This can mean a software program that chats with self-driving cars to warn of obstacles ahead or a dialogue with an LED system that initiates alerts on the road’s surface. Smart innovations can improve traffic flow, especially during peak times, and provide a clear lane for emergency vehicles. + Compare the Market Images via Compare the Market and Florian Kurz

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A mini rainforest thrives in the Nanbo Bay Reception Center

July 19, 2021 by  
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In Yinchuan Shi, China , Nanbo Bay Reception Center by Sunson Design is an example of striking architecture that intertwines nature with comfort and eye-catching appeal. The center sits adjacent to China Yinchuan Cultural Park, which is backed by wetlands that appear to have inspired much of the feng shui flow inside the building. The experience begins at the entrance, dubbed the “hall of time.” Here, visitors their first impression of the natural yet mysterious space, which is bathed in  plants . In fact, the Reception Hall is a mini ecological rainforest with bamboo, banyan trees, plantains and other fresh green plants and low shrubs. This environment invites guests to slow down and look around, enjoying the natural elements while gradually progressing through the space. Related: Sino-Italian Cultural Exchange City Reception Center is a hidden art hall in China Copious natural light streams in from innovative sky windows overhead, ranging from a spectacularly engaging grilled design to extraordinary skylight effects. The marriage between the outdoors and indoors leaves visitors questioning if they are actually in a building at all.  Moving into the adjacent sand table display area, visitors meet more  natural materials  in the form of floor-to-ceiling stone walls and copious wood accents. Also off the reception hall is an expansive library and sitting area with tables spaced throughout a tiered stairway. On the opposite side of a built-in bookshelf wall sits a bar. The bookshelf itself is filled with discussion-worthy pieces paying homage to ancient Yinchuan. Throughout the dining area,  wood  tables and chairs, wallpaper printed in food designs, and bamboo screens continue the ecological theme.  Nanbo Bay Reception Center also features a landscaped courtyard, awe-inspiring sculptures, and a glass-walled swimming pool area that creates the visual illusion of “zero gravity” for a floating effect. These spaces work together to join the elements of  water , stone, light, music and plants. + Sunson Design Photography by Kanghui Zeng

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Jiangyin urban development by BAU honors humans, history and the planet

July 19, 2021 by  
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Throughout history, rivers have held a crucial role in industry as well as recreation, sometimes at the cost of one or the other. In the case of the Yangtze River, modern developers are dedicated to creating a balance that includes both. Located in Jiangyin City, Jiangsu Province, China, this particular district was pinned for regeneration, and a design competition awarded BAU (Brearley Architects + Urbanists) the winning design plan. The resulting multistage plan will see the Jiangyin industrial docklands converted into a multipurpose live/work area that softens the edges of the often overbuilt river’s edge. Related: The Toranomon-Azabudai Project puts health before business Stage one of this major project is the creation of a 4 km public realm along the river edge, and it brings with it goals to re-establish indigenous ecosystem corridors while preserving the industrial character of the area. To achieve this goal, the urban design team started by working with the natural tidal microhabitats. They provided habitats for animals as well as support to minimize degradation. Designers implemented a corridor of indigenous trees and plants in order to outline the pathway that connects the Ebizui mountain ecological node to the east with the canal eco-corridor toward the west, which was a primary goal of the project. This serves to provide biking and pedestrian pathways along the water and between districts within the development and surrounding area. To further engage physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, the plan includes sports courts, a skate park , several children’s play areas, including one in the shape of a ship, and an area for exercise. There are also gathering areas within the large pavilions and dance plazas, along with more intimate areas for relaxation, games and picnics. Honoring the deep history of the region, ship slipways, gantry cranes and rails, ship-building factory structures, jetties and numerous other artifacts will be retained. Even the pavement weaves in historical elements, imprinted with interpretive mapping of the Yangtze River. A fish restaurant also stands as a reflection on the historical industry in the region. Information stands throughout the Docklands Park reiterate the relevance of the area for visitors. + BAU Photography by Zeng Jianghe and Xiazhi via BAU

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Jiangyin urban development by BAU honors humans, history and the planet

Least developed countries tell rich nations to cut emissions

July 16, 2021 by  
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A coalition of 100 Least Developed Countries (LDC) is raising concerns over the slow rate at which developed countries are implementing their promises to reverse the climate crisis . The LDC group wants richer countries to commit to more concrete climate mitigation measures at the Cop26 Summit later this year. Cop26 will be the most important climate meeting after the Paris Agreement of 2015. Hosted by the U.K. , the meeting is expected to bring world leaders together to discuss key climate matters that could determine the world’s future. Leaders from Cop26’s LDC group are already discussing their concern over developed nations’ lack of commitment to climate action. Related: G7 leaders commit to curb climate change, but fall short on coal Chair of the LDC group for Cop26, Sonam P. Wangdi of Bhutan said: “Despite Covid understandably taking the headlines, climate change has been getting worse over the past year as emissions continue to rise and the lives and livelihoods on the frontline suffer.” Wangdi added, “We vulnerable countries are not asking for much – just that richer countries, who have caused this problem, take responsibility by cutting their emissions and keeping their promise to help those their emissions have harmed.” The LDC group has already published five demands, among them a call for richer governments to strengthen national plans to cut emissions, provide $100 billion per year in “climate finance” to developing countries, and bring the Paris Agreement to full effect. One of the major talking points at Cop26 will be the failure by developed countries to live up to their 2009 promise of providing $100 billion per year in funding to poor countries by 2020. “Developed countries are currently not pulling their weight or keeping their promises on their obligations to provide climate finance. Like any negotiation, you need to have faith that pledges and commitments will be met,” said chair of the Africa group of negotiators Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale of Gabon. Some developed countries, such as the U.K., have even cut their support to poor countries. This week, MPs voted to cut the U.K.’s foreign aid by a third, from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%. LDC leaders say that these actions demonstrate a lack of responsibility. They demand the world’s richest nations be held accountable for the adverse effects of pollution since they are responsible for the majority of emissions worldwide. Via The Guardian Lead image via Topu Saha

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Least developed countries tell rich nations to cut emissions

China removes giant pandas from endangered species list

July 12, 2021 by  
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Giant pandas are no longer endangered, according to an announcement made by the Chinese government. The number of pandas in the wild in China has reached 1,800; this doesn’t include those in captivity or protected shelters. Consequently, the animals are no longer endangered, but are still vulnerable. In 2016, the International Union for Nature Conservation removed giant pandas from the endangered species list, classifying them as vulnerable. China has now followed suit, due to an increase in giant panda numbers in the country. Related: Panda conservation efforts lead to unexpected losses In a statement, Cui Shuhong, head of the Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation in the Ministry of Environment, said the reclassification is due to improved living conditions. He also pointed out that these results come from China’s efforts to restore giant panda habitats. Earlier, experts opposed declaring giant pandas no longer endangered , arguing that such a move would spur complacence. As a result, China maintained the “vulnerable” status for its pandas even after being delisted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Besides giant pandas, the Chinese government has also reported significant improvement in Siberian Tiger , Amur leopard, Asian elephant, and crested ibis numbers. The government says that all these improvements are due to conservation efforts. The news has been celebrated on social media . One post read, “It shows all the efforts have been paid off. Well done,” while another noted, “It’s a good start indeed, but there are still threats to these species. Do not relax.” Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “the concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China. We stand ready to work with all sides to strengthen international cooperation in ecological preservation and environmental management to jointly.” Despite these improvements, the pandas still face long-term threats. According to the IUCN, climate change could destroy about 35% of their bamboo habitats in 80 years. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

October 30, 2017 by  
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Back in June, Chinese company CRRC Corporation debuted a self-driving train that runs on virtual tracks – and it just officially hit the streets of Zhuzhou in China ‘s Hunan Province. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) could ease emissions and traffic for a fraction of the cost of building a subway or streetcar system. The 100 percent electric train can transport as many as 300 passengers in three carriages through cities at speeds of 43 miles per hour. No traditional train tracks are necessary for the ART, which runs on dotted lines painted on streets, aided by sensors. The trackless train has been described as a hybrid between a bus and tram, and it’s 100 percent powered by electricity. Channel NewsAsia reported the ART could help speed up public transportation in Zhuzhou before spreading to other cities in China. The train can reportedly run for over 15 miles after charging for 10 minutes. A few outlets say the ART has lithium titanate batteries and charges via a flash charging facility . The ART is more than 103 feet long, and instead of steel wheels it has rubber tires. A twin-head system allows the train to travel without ever making a U-turn. The trackless train’s lifespan is reportedly around 25 years. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ People’s Daily Online reports that the ART is less expensive than the typical subway, which in China costs between 400 million to 700 million yuan, or around $60.1 million to $105.3 million, per kilometer. Compared against electric streetcars, which run around 150 million to 200 million yuan, or around $22.5 million to $30 million, per kilometer, the ART “is only about one-fifth the investment.” The train will be tested in Zhuzhou before opening to the public in 2018. Via Channel NewsAsia Images via New China TV on Youtube

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