Climate Adaptation

CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Self-driving cars are the ultimate self-indulgence.

A question by evforija

Seriously! I appreciate innovation in its many forms, but this seems like a colossal waste of engineering know-how and R&D resources. Grinds my gears as the kids say… m

I’d try it. Printed meat opens an interesting debate, testing environmentalists’ ethical arguments against eating beef. We know that on the whole raising cattle is environmentally terrible, painful for the animals, and expensive. Could distaste (eg, the “ew-ick” factor) for bio-beef turn into a viable solution? After all, it’s safe, tasty, equally nutritious, would save millions of acres of land, substantially lower carbon footprint, and raise water quality. It also nearly eliminates swine flu, Mad Cow, avian flu, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and other animal-to-human plagues. (I’d argue further that it would relieve ranchers the pain of losing a few head to wolves.)

Bio-beef would resolve countless issues, but the ick factor seems to overwhelm the arguments for it. Thus, testing the boundaries and worth of environmental ethics…

joshbyard:

Vat-Meat Approaching the Mainstream: Peter Thiel Seeds Modern Meadow

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel’s philanthropic foundation plans to announce today a six-figure grant for bioprinted meat, part of an ambitious plan to bring to the world’s dinner tables a set of technologies originally developed for creating medical-grade tissues.

The recipient of the Thiel Foundation’s grant, a Columbia, Mo.-based startup named Modern Meadow, is pitching bioprinted meat as a more environmentally-friendly way to satisfy a natural human craving for animal protein. Co-founder Andras Forgacs has sharply criticized the overall cost of traditional livestock practices, saying “if you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck.”

(via 3D printed meat: It’s what’s for dinner | Cutting Edge - CNET News)

yewknee:

Invisible Bike Helmet kinda just blew my mind. (via VHX)

Whoa. Mind blown. Also, great quote: “Cars are so yesterday, bikes are the future.”

“ there is a false nostalgia for primitive agriculture, based on limited transportation and the arduous conversion of raw materials into comestible commodities. Rarely is it admitted, much less emphasized, that cheap, quick food — including its embodiment through our sometimes obnoxious agribusiness corporations — is the single most important advance in human history. ”

—    Writer Tyler Cowen on GMO food and the locavore movement.

r3darch:

Lowline: An Underground Park in NYC’s Lower East Side

Learn more and help fund this project over at Kickstarter.com

(via r3d)

Meet the Versabar VB10000, a $100-million oil-rig lifter. It lifts up rigs that are sunk in the ocean. Apparently there are 1,800 nasty oil rigs rotting and rusting in U.S. waters. From PopSci:

Salvaging a downed oil platform takes months, as a team of divers cuts apart the rig and a derrick hauls each piece to the surface. The VB10000 can remove an entire rig in a few hours, for a quarter of the price. Last fall, Versabar’s $100-million monster completed its first lift off the coast of Louisiana.

Divers connected hooks to the platform trusses, cut the platform legs away, and four hoists picked the whole thing up. About as wide as a football field and as tall as a 25-story building, the VB10000 is desperately needed—U.S. regulators have identified 1,800 rigs that must be removed within 10 years.

Read more about the Versabar and the company’s founder, Jon Khachaturian, in our profile.

PopSci

Should we impose a per-mile fee to drive our cars?

Imagine a gadget attached to the dash of your car that calculated the per-second costs of driving. The “meter,” similar to a taxi-cab ticker, would not only flash on the screen the cost of gas, emissions, and wear and tear, but also your impact on public roads. How would such a meter change your behavior? It would certainly change mine if I really knew how much my trusty ol’ Benz costs per mile. Now, take this fantasy one step further. Imagine paying a tax dedicated to mitigating your impacts. Collected by the government, the tax would funnel towards alleviating impacts of pollution, wear and tear on roads, and lower emissions. Neat idea?

Well, it’s happening in pilot form in the Netherlands, and Elisabeth Rosenthal covered it in today’s NYTimes, In Auto Test in Europe, Meter Ticks Off Miles, and Fee to Driver

"The car had been outfitted with the meter so that Mr. Van Dedem could take part in a trial of a controversial government tax proposal to charge drivers a fee for the miles they drive. The meter also factors in the cost to society in the form of pollution, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on roads. Hooked up to the Internet wirelessly and to GPS, the system tabulates a charge for each car trip by using a mileage-based formula that also takes account of a car’s fuel efficiency, the time of day and the route. (Driving on busier thoroughfares costs more than driving on less-traveled roads.) At the end of each month, the vehicle’s owner would receive a bill detailing times and costs of usage, not unlike a cellphone bill, although participants in the trial did not have to pay the charges." Again, In Auto Test in Europe, Meter Ticks Off Miles, and Fee to Driver

Now, I can hear the scoffing through my screen, “That would never happen here!” Well, why the hell wouldn’t it? How do we know? If IBM sponsors a pilot and partners with a progressive city, it seems completely reasonable to do.

The process is democratic and the gadgets and tax would (at first) be voluntary. A handful of existing employees within a city’s government structure could dedicate a few hours per month on a special committee that would distribute the collected fees towards mitigating pollution and/or pooling the tax towards infrastructure. Piece of cake. Portland, OR seems ripe for this type of experiment.

In my state, Massachusetts, it doesn’t take much to draft your very own bill, file it, and get it into committee for review. In fact, I think that’s exactly what is missing from much of modern enviro-discourse: Just how can individual environmentalists draft bills, or get sponsors for bills, or even conduct basic lobbying? I’ve written my fair share of “Dear Senator Kerry, I oppose the GOP’s efforts to gut the EPA, you best do the same,” letters. But, with respect to creating solutions, I think getting a bill sponsored by a representative would have more impact because media is more apt to pick it up and bring it into the public square.

What do you think?

Update: The program displaces other fees, such as registration, excise, and gas taxes. It targets drivers who drive most, and would lower operating costs for low-income drivers.

Update II: It removes regulations (read the article), not increases them. It cuts government waste. It makes government more efficient by eliminating unnecessary and duplicative bureaucracies, such as registration and tax commissions. As far as government intrusion, vehicles are extremely regulated, from texting, to speed, to turning, to materials, to insurance, to annual inspections, to taxes. Why not remove some of these burdens, especially on those who drive less? 

Fences made of bees to keep elephants from destroying crops. Also, farmers have a new source of income: honey. win-win!

sciencecenter:

Innovative solution to the problem of destructive elephants

While the revival of elephants in Kenya has been a huge success for conservationists, it has come at the expense of farmers and villagers who live near the sometimes dangerous pachyderms. Some clever thinking may end up saving everyone some grief. Elephants, like humans, are afraid of bees. Farmers that experimented with fences made of bee hives - instead of traditional thorn bush fences - and found them to be much more effective. And as an added bonus, Kenyan farmers may now benefit from selling honey.

(via caaahlo)

“ Humanity is doomed. ”

—    controversial climate critic Bjorn Lomborg, rambling incoherently in his latest op-ed for Newsweek. He’s plugging his new climate change movie, Cool It.

'Farmville' Project With Real Animals Launched

Social farming via Internet voting. Loony.

Inspired by the popular game, MyFarm will allow up to 10,000 members to vote on all the major matters at the Wimpole Estate farm
A large working farm will be taken over for the first time by web users across the world on Wednesday, who will vote on every key decision taken on its cattle, pigs, sheep and crops.

Source: OnEarth

Stunner! Massachusetts votes to end union rights. Tougher than Wisconsin and Ohio’s.

Led by Democrats. Vote was 111-44. Link. I think this is a win for cities. Short term, it will be a mess. Unions are grouchy, lumbering beasts that die hard. They discourage innovation.

House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.

I was a board member of The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America (TNG/CWA 31041, part of AFL-CIO) as recently as 2007. The goal of our board meetings was not to help the company innovate, or help employees succeed in their careers. It was to squeeze our employer for every dime they had. Meetings were not think meetings. They were employer bashing sessions held by old white dudes and a handful of equally aged women (who barely had a voice. It was very patriarchal).

I agree with the premise that companies and cities should pay their workers the worth! But, not at the expense of dragging and running the city into the dirt. I could barely order paper clips without having to follow some ancient union rule set in stone during the 1960s. And the hierarchy was totally unfair - positions go to those who were at the company the longest (old men), not to those who were qualified to do the job well (young men and women). They didn’t understand Gen X or Gen Y - they’re not interested. Seriously, in 2011, who’s interested in becoming a union member??

Source: Boston (union) Globe