Posts tagged harvard.
Matthew C. Nisbet examines writer-turned-activist Bill McKibben’s career and impact on the debate over climate change, in a new paper released by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University.
As I am about to spell out, the funders, experts, professional environmentalists, and cooperative business leaders who labored during the 2000s to prepare the way for a legislative push for cap and trade when a friendly president and Congress took office were not noticing the overall shifts in American politics that would make their insider-bargaining effort virtually impossible to pull off.From the report, “NAMING THE PROBLEM What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight against Global Warming” written by Harvard political professor Theda Skocpol. Her new climate change report can be read, here(PDF). The report documents and analyzes the recent history the U.S.’s failure to adopt a federal climate policy. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ll form an opinion in a bit. However, the climate investigators at Desmogblog. are reporting Skocpol’s report lays the foundation for a solution and a way forward. I’ll check it out and get back to y’all…
Record temperatures today in Massachusetts. Here’s an nice video of some local spring critters. A Green Frog, Northern Water Snake, and beauty of a Spring Peeper. Filmed in Harvard, MA.
Ousted by Tea Party for accepting climate change facts, NPR interviews South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis. ›
Inglis, a conservative Republican, is campaigning across the U.S. to lobby for climate solutions. He believes that Republicans hold the key to the resolving the crisis.
Click here to read Harvard economist, Greg Mankiw's excellent argument to increase the gas tax $.10 per year for 10 years. ›
Central reasons: Reduce debt; environment/climate case; dumps CAFE standards; increases city density; and increases national security.
This must have taken a LOT of work. Man I hate/love/hate GIS.
More beauty from Bostonography: an exploration of Cambridge street names. Click through for the full set of maps.
Harvard economist Robert Stavins says a major disaster is needed for the U.S. to act on climate change ›
If the name looks familiar, it’s because Nobelist Stavins was lead author of the IPCC’s 2nd and 3rd reports. He’s is current lead author on the section covering international negotiations for the IPCC’s forthcoming 5th assessment. (emphasis below are not mine).
“It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction,” Stavins, director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg’s Boston office.
President Barack Obama failed to get legislation through Congress that would have established a cap-and-trade system of pollution allowances to control greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming. Instead, the administration is pushing regulations for carbon pollution through the Environmental Protection Agency, a far inferior approach, according to Stavins.
A surprisingly solid 10 minute TED on climate psychology. Jaded as I am about all things climate, I definitely learned a lot from Gilbert’s mesmerizing talk. Bravo.
Harvard is adopting the TED idea and gives 10 interesting people 10 minutes each. It is evident that sharing ideas and knowledge is the new black!
Find more on Harvard’s dedicated web site.
In 2008, I wrote a paper called “Landscape Urbanism, Fetish?”. I wanted to challenge a new movement that was gaining traction in my field of urban planning. This movement is called Landscape Urbanism, also known as Green Urbanism.
Actually, I have to admit that my paper was in-part motivated by selfishness. I wanted to directly challenge the scholar Jack Ahern. Ahern teaches landscape architecture at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He’s been at UMass’s Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) department since 1986, and is a well-respected researcher. I know Jack. I’ve traveled to Italy with him on one of his Landscape Architecture Study Tours, and have taken at least 3 of his classes. (I’ve received two degrees from UMass’s LARP program, a BS in Environmental Design [which Jack received in 1974] and a Masters in Regional Planning). But I disagree with his notion that landscape architecture can scale up to the level of designing our cities. I agree, some projects should incorporate landscape design into their fabric. I disagree, wholly, that cities can fully integrate landscape ideals a such great levels. Here’s what I mean:
From my city planning perspective, I welcome new ideas and scholarship that aims to improve both peoples lives and protect the environment. New Urbanism, for example, is a new-ish approach to designing cities. It pretty much aims to re-create communities with a thriving Main Street that people love to walk around, rather than sprawling, car-oriented suburbs that are inflected with strip malls (read about New Urbanism, here). There are other new ideas about how to design cities taking root, too, like IBM’s Intelligent Cities, and the EPA’s Smart Growth USA treatment. And of course, there’s the maddening fetish for “sustainable cities.”
My main problem with landscape urbanism is that it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. There are no cities, major developments, or pilot projects that can claim to adopt or have been designed around the principles of landscape urbanism.
And yet Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design is now headed by the father of landscape urbanism, Charles Waldheim. There are oodles and oodles of writings on landscape urbanism, but the language used by these “scholars” is so obtuse, and so ridiculous as to have spawned The Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator:
Believers of landscape urbanism have contradictory goals. First, they want to go back to the designs of cities of the 1800s - compact and thriving urban centers that promote walking around and other other happy, non-controversial aspects of good communities. The second is they want development to respect the landscape in order to protect the environment. Again, this is another non-controversial design aspect of development aimed to lower environmental damage from building cities.
On its face, these two goals seem wonderful, and they are hard at first pass to argue against. Who could argue against the idea we should be integrating the environment into village-sized communities?
The contradiction, however, is that
- A) No one “planned” the villages and towns in the 1800s with “community” in mind. What lands private developers and politicians didn’t take, pillage, or exploit for profit, the federal government gave away in outrageous fire sales of millions and millions of acres of pristine land (much occupied by Native Americans). It was federal policy to give away as much land as possible for unhindered, unregulated private development. Development in the 1800s gave birth to the incredibly stupid grid system; led to expensive and outright embarrassing pollution and diversion of tens of thousands of rivers; destroyed millions of acres of natural habitat, wiping out countless species; and deforested some of the oldest trees on planet earth.
- B) There’s barely anywhere left to build that would respect the environment on a scale that would matter (sorry my fellow enviros!).
In other words, it would seem that landscape urbanists believe that building low impact eco-village-style communities is desirable and will miraculously protect the environment.
There is nothing inherently wrong endeavoring to change the way cities are built. In fact, it’s necessary. For example, I along with many city planners take seriously the question of whether or not New Orleans should have been rebuilt or torn down after Hurricane Katrina. And it’s unfathomable to me we continue to build in places like on the San Andreas fault-line, or in the shadow of Mount Rainier, an active volcano, or on coasts that are guaranteed to erode with or with out climate related sea-level rise.
Nor is there anything inherently wrong with endeavoring to re-do our communities to reflect more compact, low-impact spaces. The problem is that no one wants to live “with” nature - never mind envisioning where these Utopian villages-in-nature could possibly exist. New York City? Sacramento? Corpus Christi?
Of course we should build with respect and reverence to and for the environment. But there’s no way to rebuild our communities to fit onto the environmental landscape, as landscape urbanists suggest. Of course we should protect certain environments from pollution, species destruction, and harmful resource uses. But to say that we can successfully integrate into these landscapes and live prosperous lives without evidence is a witchcraft game of bullshit semantics.
- Michael Mehaffy’s The Landscape Urbanism: Sprawl in a Pretty Green Dress?
- And Leon Neyfakh’s “Green Building: Green buildingAre cities the best place to live? Are suburbs OK? A fight grows in urban planning, with Harvard at the center”
If you can stomach it, check out The Landscape Urbanism Reader: