A president confronts the existential threat of climate change

January 20, 2018 by  
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Towards the end of his second term, former president Barack Obama toured the Arctic with a Rolling Stone journalist. There, they faced our uncertain future.

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A president confronts the existential threat of climate change

The world’s first vertical forest for low-income housing is coming to the Netherlands

January 10, 2018 by  
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Stefano Boeri has designed and built vertical forests across the globe, but his latest project, slated for Eindhoven in The Netherlands, will be unlike anything that has been done before. That’s because, for the first time ever, the forest tower has been funded by a social housing project, and the tower will provide low-income housing. The Trudo Vertical Forest looks to be an example of how good architecture can tackle both climate change and urban housing issues. Stefano Boeri has constructed vertical forest projects in Milan , Utrecht, Nanjing , Tirana, Paris , and Lausanne, but the Trudo Vertical Forest will be one-of-a-kind. Built to provide low-income housing, the tower will have 19 stories with 125 units, all covered in a luscious vertical forest that features a wide variety of plants and trees. “The high-rise building of Eindhoven confirms that it is possible to combine the great challenges of climate change with those of housing shortages. Urban forestry is not only necessary to improve the environment of the world’s cities but also an opportunity to improve the living conditions of less fortunate city dwellers”, said Stefano Boeri. Related: Bosco Verticale: World’s First Vertical Forest is Finally Complete in Milan Stefano Boeri Architetti was retained by Sint-Trudo to complete the tower, which will be an urban home to 125 trees and 5,200 plants. The 246-foot tower covered in a rich, biodiverse environment will help control urban pollution and provide homes for a variety of animals and insects. “The Trudo Vertical Forest sets new living standards. Each apartment will have a surface area of under 50 square meters and the exclusive benefit of 1 tree, 20 shrubs and over 4 square meters of terrace. Thanks to the use of prefabrication, the rationalization of technical solutions for the facade, and the consequent optimization of resources, this will be the first Vertical Forest prototype destined for social housing” states Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Project Director of Stefano Boeri Architetti. + Stefano Boeri Architetti

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The world’s first vertical forest for low-income housing is coming to the Netherlands

Episode 106: Resilience is the ‘new normal’; rebuilding PR’s grid

January 5, 2018 by  
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In this week’s episode, the circular economy helps the developing world, taking ‘net positive’ with a grain of salt and avoiding the climate apocalypse.

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Episode 106: Resilience is the ‘new normal’; rebuilding PR’s grid

Business leaders can rally to these promising policy battles in 2018

January 5, 2018 by  
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Here’s where you’ll find opportunity for greatness and innovation fit for the future

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Business leaders can rally to these promising policy battles in 2018

C.F. Mllers Storkeengen tackles climate challenges in a Danish town

January 5, 2018 by  
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The modern age’s best landscape architecture projects aren’t one-trick ponies. C.F. Møller Landscape takes this to heart in their recent design for Storkeengen (Stork Meadow), a multipurpose nature park that offers recreation, beauty, and strengthened protection against storm floods. Located in the Danish town of Randers, Storkeengen aims to “resolve the city’s current and future climate chal-lenges” and bring the townspeople closer to nature and to Denmark’s longest river, the Gudenå River. Created in collaboration with Randers Vandmiljø, Randers Municipality, and Orbi-con, Storkeengen is envisioned as a pioneering project combining water purification , recreation, and climate adjustment. According to C.F. Møller, the riverside town of Randers is threatened by the effects of climate change due to its low-lying position next to the Gudenå River. Thus, the city has developed a vision to protect the town called ‘The City to the Water,’ with the implementation of Stor-keengen as the first step. The 83-hectare Storkeengen is designed to function like a wetland meadow. C.F. Møller designed “cloudburst routes” that direct stormwater runoff into the park, where it’s then naturally filtered in wetland meadow areas before being dis-charged in the river. A dyke will also be installed between the park and the river to protect the nearby residences from flooding and provide new connectivity be-tween Randers and the park. Related: Denmark just opened the “world’s most humane” maximum security prison “Storkeengen is a climate adaption project on Nature’s own terms – also when it comes to the project’s technical wastewater solutions, which are designed to strengthen the nature qualities of the wet meadows,” wrote C.F. Møller. “To in-crease accessibility and enhance the nature experi-ence, new pathways and ac-tivity plateaux are created, so that Storkeengen’s unique flora and fauna, and the wet meadows’ changing habitat, can be experienced at close hand. The plateaux also make it possible to get up close to the area’s grazing cattle, enjoy the sun-set, or navigate the Gudenå stream by canoe.” The project will break ground this fall and is slated for completion in 2021. + C.F. Møller Images via C.F. Møller

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C.F. Mllers Storkeengen tackles climate challenges in a Danish town

California bill could ban all new fossil-fueled cars by 2040

January 4, 2018 by  
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California could ban all new fossil fuel cars from 2040 under a bill introduced this week by Assemblymember Phil Ting , a Democrat of San Francisco. If it passes, the Clean Cars 2040 act would require all new cars sold in the state to be zero emissions vehicles. Ting said in a statement , “We’re at an inflection point: we’ve got to address the harmful emissions that cause climate change .” AB 1745, or the Clean Cars 2040 Act, would require every passenger vehicle sold in California to be zero emissions after January 1, 2040. Ting said fossil fuel vehicles are responsible for almost 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, so “achieving the goal of electrification of transportation is crucial for the health of our people and the planet.” NextGen America president Tom Steyer said polluting cars are California’s biggest source of carbon emissions . The bill would not apply to commercial vehicles greater than 10,000 pounds, just passenger cars. It also wouldn’t apply to cars owned by people in other states moving to California. Related: Scotland to phase out new gas and diesel cars by 2032 California hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent under 1990 levels by 2030. Governor Jerry Brown aims to have 1.5 million zero emission cars on the streets by 2025, and there are almost 300,000 EVs registered in CA already. But the state still has a ways to go: the San Francisco Chronicle said in 2016 that while 2.1 million new cars were sold, only 1.9 percent of those were zero emissions. The bill already has support from some environmental groups. Earthjustice staff attorney Adrian Martinez said in Ting’s statement, “Reducing fossil fuels emissions should be California’s highest priority. With this legislation, California will be taking combustion polluting vehicles off the road…helping us to finally address air pollution and better equipping us to combat climate change. I urge our state’s leaders to pass this important legislation.” Via Assemblymember Phil Ting , the San Francisco Chronicle , and Engadget Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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California bill could ban all new fossil-fueled cars by 2040

2017: the year climate change spiraled out of control

January 4, 2018 by  
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With its extreme weather and unraveling public policy, 2017 provided the world with a glimpse of its climate-chaotic future if changes are not made immediately. Ferocious wildfires burned across California, back-to-back major hurricanes devastated coastal and even inland areas, and the Arctic continued to melt. All the while, Washington DC took action to halt the marginal but meaningful progress made under the Obama Administration by withdrawing from the Paris agreement and stacking the Environmental Protection Agency with those who would serve the interests of industry first. In what is yet another warning sign in a long line of alarm bells ringing, 2017 served as a reminder that the disruptive power of climate change is real and that our failure to act will cost us dearly, today and tomorrow. Although global emissions had remained flat for three years prior, 2017 marked a return to form, with greenhouse gas emissions rising by two percent. While the United States , despite its change in leadership, maintained a slight decline in emissions, this was more than offset by increases in China and India. This continued rise means that in order to meet the emissions goals to avoid catastrophic climate change, substantial cuts will need to be made quickly over the next few decades. Meanwhile, the worst-case climate-change scenarios predicted by scientists seem to be increasingly likely, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature . Related: Climate change is squishing the Earth and making oceans heavier If the numbers aren’t convincing, the visceral experience of 2017 should make clear the dangers of climate change. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated the United States and the Caribbean, leaving much of Puerto Rico still without power and over $200 billion in damages during what was the costliest hurricane season in history. On the other side of North America, wildfires raged in what was also the costliest wildfire season on record. While climate change doesn’t cause wildfires or hurricanes, it creates the conditions that facilitate extreme weather. Meanwhile, the Arctic continues to melt as scientists declare that the region is no longer reliably frozen due to a downward spiral of warming temperatures. The world is not doomed to this climate catastrophe. However, time is rapidly running out. Via MIT Technology Review Images via Depositphotos (1)

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2017: the year climate change spiraled out of control

Climate change is squishing the Earth and making oceans heavier

January 3, 2018 by  
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The ocean floor may be sinking under the weight of heavier oceans as a result of climate-change -induced glacier melting and sea level rise, according to a new study. Scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands discovered that the deforming impact of a heavier ocean on the seafloor is too large to be accurately measured using traditional satellite altimeters. This means that measurements of sea level rise based on the assumption of a static seafloor may be inaccurate. Researchers suspected that traditional sea level measurement methods might be off. “We have had tide gauge sea level rise measurements for more than a century,” Delft University of Technology geoscientist and study Thomas Frederikse told Earther . “You put an instrument at the sea bottom and see how far sea level changes relative to the bottom. Satellites orbiting the Earth measure sea level from space . We wanted to see how large is the difference.” After modeling and analysis of new data, the team determined that, as a result of sea level rise and climate change, the ocean floor had been sinking on average by about 0.1 mm/year between 1993-2014, or 2.1 mm in total. This relatively small change can have a big impact on the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of sea level measurements if not taken into account. Related: Scientists find the Earth’s constant hum is coming from the ocean floor In their study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters , researchers determined that traditional satellite measurements are underestimating sea level rise by about four percent. Now that this disparity is known, corrections can be made. “The effect is systematic and relatively easy to account for,” wrote Frederikse and his co-authors. Over the course of the study, the researchers uncovered some unexpected impacts of heavier oceans, including a slight ocean floor rise in areas most impacted by sea ice and glaciers, such as Greenland and the Arctic. The small but significant change in our measurements of sea level is a reminder of all that we still do know about climate change and its impacts on every part of this planet. “ The Earth itself is not a rigid sphere, it’s a deforming ball,” said Frederikse, according to Earther . “With climate change, we do not only change temperature.” Via Earther Images via NASA and Frederikse, et. al.

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Climate change is squishing the Earth and making oceans heavier

Substantial swaths of globe face desertification without climate action – new study

January 2, 2018 by  
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Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce desertification of substantial swaths of Earth, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change . The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 is theoretically designed to ensure temperatures reach “well below 2 degrees Celsius” — but the United States, a leading contributor to climate change , rescinded its participation last June under President Donald Trump. “Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 percent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches 2ºC,” Manoj Joshi, lead researcher from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told The Washington Examiner . “But two-thirds of the affected regions could avoid significant aridification if warming is limited to 1.5ºC.” More than 20 percent of the world’s population would be affected by extreme drought without action, according to the report; Central America, Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, Southern Africa and Southern Australia would be hardest hit. The UN’s Green Climate Fund was established to ensure developed countries that spew the most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contribute funds to help less developed countries, which are likely to suffer the most, adapt to and mitigate the effects of a warming world. Related: Stephen Hawking says Trump decision to leave Paris accord could induce irreversible climate change Before the Trump administration announced the US would stop making contributions to the fund, the country had committed to a contribution of less than $10 per person, according to the New York Times . Considering how much the US contributes to climate change, that sum pales in comparison to Sweden’s $59 per capita. But for Donald Trump, $10 per person was too steep a price to pay to slow down what leading scientists like Stephen Hawking warn is one of the gravest dangers humanity has ever faced. Here’s Trump in a recent tweet showing a cringeworthy lack of understanding of climate science: In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017 Beyond being just plain wrong, Trump’s scientific illiteracy is dangerous; not only does he promote industries that send even more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, he encourages his base to adopt the kind of wrong-thinking that could derail the kind of climate action that could have life-saving results. “The world has already warmed by 1ºC. But by reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in order to keep global warming under 1.5ºC or 2ºC could reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world,” said Su-Jong Jeong from China’s Southern University of Science and Technology, and a participant in the study. Drought is nothing to scoff at. It could lead to water and food scarcity, disease and war, among countless other consequences. It behooves all of us to arrest its deadly advance. + Nature Climate Change Images via DepositPhotos – Kalahari Desert , Desert Dune

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Substantial swaths of globe face desertification without climate action – new study

How to avoid the ‘climate apocalypse’ in 2018

December 28, 2017 by  
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We might have just 1,000 days left to save the world.

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How to avoid the ‘climate apocalypse’ in 2018

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