This is a "zero-impact" office building in Seattle. Solar. Clean materials. Rainwater harvesting. Composting toilets. Bravo.
The mutton market: slow and steady. Here are our eating trends on planet earth.
The Home Aquaponics Self-Cleaning Fish Tank features five pots on the top for growing herbs and plants such as spinach, baby greens, oregano, beans, basil, mint, parsley and thyme. The fish waste naturally fertilizes the plants above. So, all you really have to do is feed the fish!
Photo by Martin Ystenes
“I was wondering about how rational we are as humans. Where does this come from? Where does this need, this addiction come from?”
Andri Magnason is an Icelandic writer who co-directed the documentary film Dreamland, about a massive industrial project in Iceland that exposed some ugly truths about politics, industry and so-called green energy. He studies what seem like cycles of endless growth simply for growth’s sake.
Steve Lansing, a senior fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is helping preserve the centuries-old water-temple system in Bali that distributes water from a volcanic lake to over two hundred farming villages. Lansing and landscape architect Julia Watson are working with the people of Bali to craft a plan to enable tourists to explore the area and preserve it. Watson says the idea is to protect “the most resilient system and the most bio-diverse agro ecosystem known to man.”
Around 75% of the world’s population will live in cities within 40 years. Almost all of this population growth will happen in the developing world, with 4.6 billion people projected to live in already rapidly growing cities. How will these cities in the developing world cope socially, environmentally and economically with such accelerated urbanisation?
Future Proofing Cities assesses the risks from mega cities like Bangkok to smaller cities such as Zaria in Africa. It looks at their risk profile from climate hazards, resource scarcities, and damage to ecosystems and urges action now to future proof against these risks.
This report provides a fresh approach to the urgent issues arising from rapid urbanisation. It assesses the environmental risks facing cities in an integrated way and identifies more than 100 practical policy options that are most relevant and will be of most benefit to people living in different types of cities.
The report is set against a growing awareness of the need for increased funding for infrastructure development in developing countries at the city level.
By Andrew Zolli
FOR decades, people who concern themselves with the world’s “wicked problems” — interconnected issues like environmental degradation, poverty, food security and climate change — have marched together under the banner of “sustainability”: the idea that with the right mix of incentives, technology substitutions and social change, humanity might finally achieve a lasting equilibrium with our planet, and with one another.
It’s an alluring and moral vision, and in a year that has brought us the single hottest month in recorded American history (July), a Midwestern drought that plunged more than half the country into a state of emergency, a heat wave across the eastern part of the country powerful enough to melt the tarmac below jetliners in Washington and the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, it would seem a pressing one, too.
Yet today, precisely because the world is so increasingly out of balance, the sustainability regime is being quietly challenged, not from without, but from within. Among a growing number of scientists, social innovators, community leaders, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropies, governments and corporations, a new dialogue is emerging around a new idea, resilience: how to help vulnerable people, organizations and systems persist, perhaps even thrive, amid unforeseeable disruptions. Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world.
It’s a broad-spectrum agenda that, at one end, seeks to imbue our communities, institutions and infrastructure with greater flexibility, intelligence and responsiveness to extreme events and, at the other, centers on bolstering people’s psychological and physiological capacity to deal with high-stress circumstances.
For example, “resilience thinking” is starting to shape how urban planners in big cities think about updating antiquated infrastructure, much of which is robust in the face of normal threats like equipment failures but — as was just demonstrated in the New York region — fragile in the face of unanticipated shocks like flooding, pandemics, terrorism or energy shortages.
Combating those kinds of disruptions isn’t just about building higher walls — it’s about accommodating the waves. For extreme weather events, that means developing the kinds of infrastructure more commonly associated with the Army: temporary bridges that can be “inflated” or positioned across rivers when tunnels flood, for example, or wireless “mesh” networks and electrical microgrids that can compensate for exploding transformers.
We’ll also need to use nature itself as a form of “soft” infrastructure. Along the Gulf Coast, civic leaders have begun to take seriously the restoration of the wetlands that serve as a vital buffer against hurricanes. A future New York may be ringed with them too, as it was centuries ago.