Public transport roof in China turns into a community space

December 17, 2021 by  
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Densely-populated cities tirelessly struggle to find space to meet the needs of a megalopolis. One thriving region in Shenzhen, China has dealt with its spectacular growth in a highly innovative way — converting an underutilized rooftop into an educational, sports and recreational hub for the young and active population that inhabit the city.  The growth happened quickly, transforming a former fishing village into a population of nearly 17 million in the past four decades. With the young average age of the population and the mild year-round climate, recreational zones and green spaces are an essential element of the community . But land is rare. So the government decided to turn a typically off-limits space into a public arena. Now the 1.2 kilometer roof of the southern terminal and depot building of Shenzhen’s Metro Line 2 has become a space that addresses multiple issues in the area. Related: Biodiverse green roof wins Grands Prix du Design award for MYTO Design The architects at Crossboundaries partnered with the Shenzhen Nanshan District Government to create distinct zones in the development. One addresses the need for outdoor activity space to serve nearby schools . Another provides outdoor green space for the community. A third area is for professional sports training and competitions. Already strategically located to serve as a major ferry, bus, car and train hub, the building below is used for maintaining trains and contains administrative spaces. Redesigning the roof space resulted in minimal site impact and makes use of otherwise wasted real estate. In addition, the development enhanced the surrounding neighborhood with inward views of the green spaces and better access to the nearby bay.   The finished project now houses space for sports, competitions and supporting facilities. It also supports nature-related activities , including tennis courts, basketball courts, fields, tracks, volleyball training areas, soccer fields, community areas and more. “We were confronted with very exceptional circumstances,” said Hao Dong, co-founder and partner at Crossboundaries. “In China, infrastructure and traffic-related areas usually belong to the government and are not meant to be assigned any public use at all. This elongated rooftop presented itself with huge potential to be transformed into a usable park, accessible to a wider public and enriching the urban environment around it.” Pathways weave between the areas, each represented by a different material to designate the purpose. Most of the pedestrian walkway is paved with stone, while the leisure trail is mostly covered with timber . The sports track features a rubber surface. In addition to a focus on outdoor activities, designers honor the environment through the use of an abundance of wood and green design . Buildings, bridges and rails offer copious natural light. While greenery inside and outside supplies natural shading and drainage.  “Our linear park is like a missing puzzle that plugs into the neighboring communities,” said Binke Lenhardt, co-founder of Crossboundaries. “It creates the necessary physical and visual link between the urban tissue and the seaside and, along the way, aims to satisfy the schools’ and the public’s ever growing need for recreational spaces and room to breathe in a dense, urban environment.” + Crossboundaries Photography by BAI Yu 

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Public transport roof in China turns into a community space

A radical plan for livestock is coming to The Netherlands

December 16, 2021 by  
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The Netherlands has too much manure. So the  Dutch  government announced a 25 billion euro plan to greatly reduce the country’s livestock. Earlier this week, a new coalition government unveiled the radical scheme to cut  nitrogen  pollution levels by buying out farmers. But the farmers aren’t happy about it. In the past, farmers have taken to the streets to protest new regulations and buyouts. Many farmers aren’t sure how they can switch to less intensive methods and fewer animals while still paying their debts. Related: 20 livestock firms emit more greenhouse gas than Britain, France or Germany “We don’t want the system to collapse,” said Marije Klever, a Utrecht dairy farmer, as reported by The Guardian. “I am a land owner, so a critical question is whether the  government  are allowed to push farmers out of the land. It can’t be The Hague telling farmers they must go, you need an agreement.” The plan’s time frame stretches over 13 years and includes paying some  farmers  to relocate their farms or change industries altogether. Others will transition to different farming methods involving more land and fewer animals. At first, the program will be voluntary. But it won’t remain that way if too few farmers accept the compensation and exit farming. By the end of 13 years, the government expects to have reduced the Netherlands’ cow, pig and chicken population by about one-third. Right now, there are more than 100 million of the animals. While the Netherlands is small, it’s Europe’s largest  meat  exporter. Livestock is more than four times as densely concentrated in the Netherlands as in the U.K. or France. A lot of pollution comes from all that animal manure. When mixed with animal urine, ammonia seeps into streams and lakes, carried by farm runoff. The excessive nitrogen in ammonia damages the natural habitat. “We can’t be the tiny country that feeds the world if we shit ourselves,” said MP Tjeerd de Groot, according to The Guardian. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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A radical plan for livestock is coming to The Netherlands

First Nation residents exposed to dangerous levels of carcinogens

November 16, 2021 by  
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Aamjiwnaang First Nation residents in Ontario have learned that cancer-causing chemicals in their air are 44 times higher than recommended levels. The revelation came after years of fighting with officials to obtain data on water and air pollution levels. Aamjiwnaang First Nation is a small region in Ontario surrounded by petrochemical facilities. For years, the First Nation community suspected that the petrochemical companies were exposing them to dangerous pollutants . However, lack of access to data from previous investigations denied them the opportunity to know the truth. Related: Researchers and Indigenous groups collaborate to save caribou Global News obtained the recent data via freedom of information laws. The data revealed that the levels of benzene and sulfur dioxide were far higher than recommended. The revelation means that the government knew these carcinogenic compounds were present in both water and air but withheld the information.  In 2019, the U.N. special rapporteur on toxic chemicals, Baskut Tuncak, visited Aamjiwnaang and expressed concerns over the proximity of the affected areas to the intense petrochemical industries. Speaking to The Guardian, Tuncak said, “I was struck by the incredible proximity of the affected First Nation to dozens of intense chemical production and processing facilities, which resulted in incredible releases of pollution and waste affecting the [residents’] health.” There has been a public outcry in Canada over the government’s handling of this crucial data. A bill meant to address environmental racism was recently shot down in a snap election, making the fight for the right to information an even more difficult battle to win. The bill would have required the federal government to collect data on areas where environmental hazards happen near pulp mills, dumps and mines, then determine their link with the disasters. Further, the bill would have required the government to compensate those affected by pollution from these industries. Although Canada still lags in terms of laws to protect the public from pollution, various jurisdictions have been taking steps toward clear policies. For instance, Ontario has proposed new laws to strengthen the emission caps and connect First Nations to crucial environmental data. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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First Nation residents exposed to dangerous levels of carcinogens

Amy Poehler, Ilana Glazer join letter calling for PR firm to drop fossil fuel clients

November 9, 2021 by  
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A group of over 100 creators, experts and educators have released a joint letter urging global PR firm Edelman to stop working with fossil fuel companies. The group includes leaders in the PR sector as well as other like-minded individuals. Among those who signed the letter include Ilana Glazer, Amy Poehler, Lindsey Peoples Wagner, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sophia Bush, Maria Popova, Philippe Cousteau and Chani Nicholas. The letter was written in response to Edelman’s recent efforts to engage with the environmentalist community on behalf of its clients. As a leader in the PR field, Edelman is responsible for serious misinformation that has led the public to adopt harmful practices. Alongside other PR brands, Edelman has helped promote the use of plastics and fossil fuels. PR firms promote a positive image of fossil fuel companies, resulting in public misguidance.  Related: New environmental racism scorecard calls out ExxonMobil Earlier this year, Edelman’s secrete work with fossil fuel giant Exxon was  exposed  by  Clean Creatives . Clean Creatives is a group that organizes leading agencies and creatives to stop working with fossil fuel companies. Since November 2020, the group has gathered commitments from over 180 agencies and over 600 individuals. Deceptive marketing tricks used by companies such as Edelman help polluting corporations mislead the public. Although some citizens remain misguided about climate change, scientists globally agree that burning fossil fuels is to blame for the climate crisis. A  recent paper  published in Environmental Research Letters shows that 99% of scientists globally agree climate change is caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels. “Edelman’s fancy ads are giving ExxonMobil social license to operate, and to thereby destroy our climate. With this campaign, culture makers are using their own social clout to say ‘not on my watch. #EdelmanDropExxon,’” said Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, one of the organizers of the letter. The group is now calling on other players in the industry to use their space wisely to try and change the situation. “The truth is, it’s time for all of us with platforms to start using our influence in ways which holds truth to power when discussing the climate crisis ,” said Aja Barber, another organizer of the letter. Some experts say that PR agencies should be held accountable for their roles in promoting fossil fuels. Their misleading advertisements have not only emboldened the public to use harmful products but have also slowed responses from the government . + Clean Creatives Lead image via Pixabay

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Amy Poehler, Ilana Glazer join letter calling for PR firm to drop fossil fuel clients

Living conditions rise in an Indonesian village

November 9, 2021 by  
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Climate change and increased human activities affect every corner of the planet. Whether in New York, Costa Rica, or a remote village in Indonesia, there is always a focus on efficient use of resources. This is the story of how the village of Wajomara reversed a tragic history of impact from natural disasters by creating a plan for the environment , the people and the economy.  Wajomara is located in Indonesia , which is also part of the Nagekeo Regency of the East Nusa Tenggara province on Flores Island. The Regency is divided into seven districts and nearly 100 villages. It’s remote, hilly and completely isolated when the only road into the area is washed out by flooding.  Related: Indonesian eco village features rammed earth domes and ocean views In 2017, a village organization called the Community Disaster Management Group (CDMG) was formed to create a plan for the village that would improve disaster response. At the initial board meeting, the members elected Patris Mana to become chairman. Mana then led efforts to complete a disaster risk assessment and reduce the impact of disasters in the village.  There were several issues to look at — primarily that the area around the village flooded regularly, cutting the community off from nearby resources. Also, annual drought deeply affects the area, limiting the amount of water available for crops, cleaning and drinking.  To better prepare the village for these events, Mana and his team coordinated a disaster response. They trained the villagers how to respond to flooding, earthquakes and fires. It wasn’t long before they had to implement that response. In 2018, heavy rains triggered a landslide that washed out a significant portion of the only road into the village. With a plan in place, the team was able to evacuate the affected households and obtain help from the government to repair the road in a timely manner. Even more significant, they applied for and secured funds to build a retaining wall and a drainage channel for rainwater . They have not had a washout in the years since it was installed. While emergency response is a central component of the plan, Mana realized early on that taking care of the land was going to benefit the village in a variety of ways. With that in mind, he and his team planted trees to slow land erosion, filter the air and balance nutrients in the soil. Since the region’s people relied on farming for their economy and their food , they constructed terraces and water traps on agricultural land to mitigate damage during the rainy season, and make more efficient use of water during the dry season.  In addition, the farmer’s were educated about native plants, especially food crops that required less water to grow in the region. In the forested areas, the villagers leaned into agroforestry, where they grew fruits, nuts and vegetables for the village and to sell at the local market. This system discourages the clearing of forests and increases the primary food and economic support for the citizens. The development of these practices also minimizes the environmental impact of clear cuts. In the five years since starting the program, Wajomara has dramatically changed course from an insecure lifestyle to an area that stands as an example of ready response and land conservation while improving the stability and security of the resources in the region.  The results come from an organized effort to include villagers in the process. In addition to attending response training sessions, citizens are educated about water conservation practices, both in the home and in the gardens. Mana’s group has also submitted a proposal to the government for funds to install a clean water distribution system that will provide water throughout droughts and improve the cleanliness and health of the villagers. They’ve now also embraced organic agriculture after realizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides are not only harmful, but cost more. These combined efforts have led to higher profits from a larger crop yield. A portion of the profits have been used to develop a local banking system that allows villagers to take small loans with low interest rates to grow their farming practices, including building greenhouses and buying better seeds and plants .    Wajomara is a regional example of how acting as stewards to the land goes hand in hand with being stewards to the people and the results are notable. An annual assessment of the resiliency in the village has improved from a basic-status score of 25 in 2017 to an intermediate-status score of 127 four years later.   In addition to the landslide mentioned above, the village has also decreased the effects of droughts by choosing drought -resistant plants, planting according to predictive rainfall and placing plants near existing water resources.  They also reacted to a house fire in 2020 and the loss of two additional houses in 2021 with steps to obtain food and clothing in addition to building materials.  The region is no longer invisible to the local government and the committee continues to apply for program aid. As a result, they’ve been supported with perennial tree saplings from the Environment Agency of Nagekeo district with 700 sandalwood saplings distributed to 70 families and 1,300 mahogany saplings distributed to 50 families. Via Principor Communications Images via John Jordan

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New business in Philadelphia recycles fabric waste

November 9, 2021 by  
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The biggest brand names and retailers in New England now have more options for obtaining fabric resources. Thanks to a new FABSCRAP building, clothing sellers and designers have a more sustainable, eco-friendly option. FABSCRAP, a non-profit organization, is all about long-term circular business, sustainability and doing good things for the Earth. FABSCRAP reclaims, reuses and recycles post-consumer fabric waste. Thanks to a new facility recently opened by the non-profit organization in South Philadelphia , many huge retailers in New England will have access to this material. FABSCRAP has set up shop in the historic BOK building in South Philly, with the aim of engaging local artists and community members in the neighborhood. Related: Osprey uses recycled plastic fabric for durable bags This is destined to become the signature fabric waste recycling service for FABSCRAP. It will engage with companies in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Jersey to serve as a resource for sustainable materials for designers, clothing makers, artists and others. FABSCRAP will provide textile recycling services and provide materials to any businesses and individuals who want to use it. FABSCRAP has also partnered with Nordstrom to create a partner portal that allows all brand partners to access diversion data and environmental impact data. This portal will increase supply chain visibility to promote more responsible decision making. Part of FABSCRAP’s goal is to increase transparency and awareness about commercial waste. So far, the organization has saved almost one million pounds of fabric from landfills . As far as CO2 goes, that’s the equivalent of planting 110,000 trees. The pioneering system of recycling and reusing fabric waste and making it more accessible could change the fashion industry. Every year, more than six million tons of textiles are thrown into the scrap heap and end up in the trash. Swatches, samples, mock-ups, scraps, excess yarn and trim and more materials all end up being thrown away. FABSCRAP saves these materials so they can be used again. These fabrics have not been used or worn. And FABSCRAP knows there is no reason for it be thrown away. + FABSCRAP Photography by Erica Schroeder

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New business in Philadelphia recycles fabric waste

Red Sea oil tanker could cause eco-catastrophe any second now

October 12, 2021 by  
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The U.N., the government of  Yemen  and Houthi rebels have been in talks about how to handle the FSO Safer. Meanwhile, the enormous floating oil storage vessel remains abandoned in the Red Sea, threatening a massive oil leak. The FSO Safer is carrying about 1.1 million barrels of crude  oil  — four times the amount released by the Exxon Valdez in the 1989 catastrophe in Alaska. The vessel has been sitting and deteriorating off the Yemeni coast since it was moored there in 2017. A new modeling study published Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability indicates that the longer it stays, the likelier a spill will be. And with massive consequences. Related: Huntington Beach oil spill destroys wildlife habitat According to the model, half the oil would evaporate at sea within 24 hours. The rest would float toward Yemen’s western coastline , taking 6-10 days to make landfall. A spill would threaten about two-thirds to more than three-quarters of Yemen’s fisheries within a week and nearly ruin the fisheries within three weeks. Depending on the season and the extent of the spill, between 5.7 and 8.4 million people could run short on food. As the oil continues to spread, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti could also feel the oily impact of environmental havoc. A spill will crank up oil prices by as much as 80%. Up to 8 million Yemenis who rely on fuel for their water pumps could lose access to running  water . The FSO Safer is 4.8 nautical miles off Yemen’s coast. According to  Greenpeace , no maintenance has been done on the vessel since 2014, which is probably why its hull is rotting. Only seven crew members are currently aboard. Around the world, the $14 trillion  shipping  industry has a worsening track record of abandoning ships. Last year the number of abandoned ships more than doubled to 85. Often seafarers are stranded with the ships, their wages unpaid and with no way to get home. Via The Guardian , Wall Street Journal and Greenpeace

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Red Sea oil tanker could cause eco-catastrophe any second now

Furniture made from the sea plant eelgrass

October 12, 2021 by  
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Natural material selection for products can provide a low environmental impact and carbon emission output. Architect and designer David Thulstrup incorporated this idea into his recent exhibit called the MOMENTUM collection.  The collection is made up of four limited-edition pieces — low table, high table, podium and screen — exploring eelgrass. The sea plant was converted into legs for the furniture and screen material in the form of a product engineered by Søuld called Acoustic Mats. Related: Charlotte McCurdy, Phillip Lim design carbon-neutral algae sequin dress Building up from the Acoustic Mats, MOMENTUM also integrates glass and steel into the pieces. With the basis of natural, plant-based material, the furniture naturally battles carbon emissions, while bringing a bespoke interior design element to the space. Using eelgrass in building is not a new idea. It was formerly popular as a roofing material in traditional Læsø, located off the coast of the Danish mainland, seaweed houses. Surrounded by sea , eelgrass is prolific and is known to be used in construction dating back to the 1600s. Søuld converted that traditional building process into a modern option through innovative technology and ten years of research and development. Its Acoustic Mats have offered a welcome alternative in the construction industry, but MOMENTUM is the first example of using the material in furniture. “This collaboration has given us the opportunity to explore the material’s possibilities beyond the context of building construction,” explained Søuld’s Co-Founder Pi Fabrin. “[Thulstrup’s] purist material approach also highlights its natural beauty and tactility, and his designs respect the cultural heritage of eelgrass whilst meeting the design and environmental needs of today.” While the designs promote a connection between home interior design and nature, the function of the Acoustic Mats improves acoustics and speaks to the cultural heritage of the region. It not only provides an alternative to less environmentally-friendly options, but it also creates healthier indoor air quality. Søuld’s eelgrass products offer thermal and moisture-absorption properties. Similar to the characteristics of cork, eelgrass is highly resistant to fire, mold and rot and contains no toxic additives. “Working with eelgrass feels rewarding not only because of its truly unique characteristics, but also the fact that it’s natural , sustainable and revolutionary,” Thulstrup said. “I especially love the surface of the eelgrass, its warm hue and the smell of salt.” + Søuld Images via MOMENTUM by David Thulstrup for Søuld

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Furniture made from the sea plant eelgrass

Disaster risk reduction is a group project

October 8, 2021 by  
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Neither government nor business “can do it all” when it comes to disaster risk reduction.

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Disaster risk reduction is a group project

New Office of Climate Change and Health Equity announced

August 31, 2021 by  
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The U.S. Office of Climate Change and Health Equity will be charged with protecting vulnerable communities from climate-driven disasters. Responding to President Joe  Biden’s  executive order on climate change, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the new office Monday. “History will judge us for the actions we take today to protect our world and our health from  climate change ,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement released Monday. “The consequences for our inaction are real and worsening. We’ve always known that health is at the center of climate change, and now we’re going to double-down on a necessity: fighting climate change in order to help protect public health in our communities.” Related: Evacuations ordered as Caldor Fire moves toward Lake Tahoe OCCHE plans to play a pivotal role in protecting  health  both in the U.S. and abroad. Its mandate includes identifying communities that face disproportionate exposure to climate hazards and addressing their health disparities. The office will promote research on the public health benefits of climate actions and translate that research for the public. OCCHE will also lend its expertise to the White House and federal agencies working on climate change and health equity. With the Caldor Fire still raging in the west and Hurricane Ida’s trail of ruin in the east, help for those with few resources cannot come soon enough. “Climate change is turbo-charging the horrific  wildfires , extreme heat, and devastating floods that are killing people and making millions more sick from exposure to unhealthy smoke, mold and debilitating heat,” said National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy in a statement. “The new HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is fulfilling President Biden’s vision to bring America’s world-class medical community into the fight against climate change—a fight for our health that ensures no community is left behind.” Via Department of Health and Human Services Lead image via Gage Skidmore

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New Office of Climate Change and Health Equity announced

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