How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.
In the last five years, China has built 20,000 miles of expressways, finishing the construction of 12 national highways a whopping 13 years ahead of schedule and at a pace four times faster than the United States built its interstate highway system. Over the last decade, Shanghai alone has built some 1,500 miles of road, the equivalent of three Manhattans. China’s urban population is projected to grow by 350 million people by 2020, effectively adding today’s entire U.S. population to its cities in less than a decade. China has already passed the United States as the world’s largest car market, and by 2025, the country will need to pave up to an estimated 5 billion square meters of road just to keep moving.
China’s love affair with the car has blossomed into a torrid romance. In April, nearly a million people poured into the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition to coo over the latest Audis, BMWs, and Toyotas. But China is in danger of making the same mistakes the United States made on its way to superpower status — mistakes that have left Americans reliant on foreign oil from unstable parts of the world, staggering under the cost of unhealthy patterns of living, and struggling to overcome the urban legacy of decades of inner-city decay.
The choices China makes in the years ahead will have an immense impact not only on the long-term viability, livability, and energy efficiency of its cities, but also on the health of the entire planet. Unfortunately, much of what China is building is based on outdated Western planning ideas that put its cars at the center of urban life, rather than its people. And the bill will be paid in the form of larger waistlines, reduced quality of life, and choking pollution and congestion.
“If people say it’s impossible we have to prove them wrong.” Design students Anna and Terese took on a giant challenge as an exam project. Something no one had done before. If they could swing it, it would for sure be revolutionary. The bicycle is a tool to change the world. If we use bikes AND travel safe: Life will be better for all. (Vimeo)
You can read more about the Invisible Bike Helmet here.
In recent months we’ve seen a spate of articles, reports, and op-eds claiming that peak oil is a worry of the past thanks to so-called “new technologies” that can tap massive amounts of previously inaccessible stores of “unconventional” oil. “Don’t worry, drive on,” we’re told.
But as Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg asks in this short video, what’s really new here? “What’s new is high oil prices and … the economy hates high oil prices.”
You can read more about the video, including its script here. As for Heinberg’s claim that the economy and high oil prices aren’t exactly best friends the UK’s Telegraph newspaper recently reported:
… a disturbing pattern has emerged where each tentative recovery in the world economy sets off an oil price jump that it turn aborts the process. A two point rise in global manufacturing indexes leads to a 30pc rise in oil prices a few months later.
“Oil has become an increasingly scarce commodity. A tight supply picture means that incremental increases in demand lead to an increase in prices, rather than ramping up production. The price of oil is in effect acting as an automatic stabilizer,” they said. If so, it is “stabilizing” the world economy in perma-slump.
More than two dozen volunteers worked in the hot sunshine Saturday to transform a dusty parking lot in the Downtown Eastside into a vibrant micro-farm and compost hub.
By noon, the volunteers with Projects in Place, a not-for-profit organization, and the Strathcona Business Improvement Association were put-ting the finishing touches on eight sheds at the Strathcona Green Zone Resource Park site on East Hastings, west of Clark Drive.
Some of the sheds will be used for recycling while others will house com-posting systems capable of processing 40 tonnes of food waste a year.
The resource park is designed to help local businesses divert food, reusable and recyclable waste from landfills.
However, organizers also wanted the hub to be a place for members of the community, so they’ve included a gar-den and a mini public park facing East Hastings Street with benches so people can sit and eat lunch there.
Organizers say by next spring they could begin growing food on 36 raised planters to donate to local shelters.
Starting in the fall, the association will collect food scraps from businesses in Strathcona for a small fee to cover costs of the program. Agbonkhese said 21 businesses have signed on so far. The cost will be an estimated $5 per pickup, with one to three pickups expected a week.