It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here: ‘China Starts Televising The Sunrise On Giant TV Screens Because Beijing Is So Clouded In Smog’
From The Daily Mail:
The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city’s natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises.
The futuristic screens installed in the Chinese capital usually advertize tourist destinations, but as the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous smog hit - residents donned air masks and left their homes to watch the only place where the sun would hail over the horizon that morning.
Serious air pollution plagues most major Chinese cities, where environmental protection has been long sacrificed for the sake of economic development.
Coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution. In recent years, China has beefed up regulations and pledged financial resources to fight pollution.
Check out the rest of the article here.
Seen around town: Bird houses and trees on False Creek’s Habitat Island
It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here: ‘How Many Gigatons of CO2?’ (Infographic)
Designed by David McCandless, this infographic… illustrates the amount of carbon dioxide that has been released into the atmosphere, how much can “safely” be released into the atmosphere and how much fossil fuel companies have ready to burn. It also associates the amount of global warming that will occur after different amounts of carbon release. If you read about climate change, you’ll sometimes hear these figures called the "carbon budget" or "the math of climate change." It is an important and powerful concept to absorb and should change your thinking on how fast we must act. (Source: Treehugger)
Infographic source: Information is Beautiful
It’s gettin’ hot in here: ‘Dramatic temperature increases could threaten Canadian health, infrastructure’ (Infographic)
From The Globe and Mail:
In the past 65 years, Canada’s national average winter temperature has risen 3.2 degrees.
This reaffirms what many suspected. Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common.
Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate. And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries.
Local public health officials are also paying close attention to vulnerable populations as extreme heat and cold become more frequent. They use climate projections to plan West Nile virus prevention – milder winters and springs can mean more mosquitos carrying the disease.
It’s a big deal for businesses, too, although many don’t know it yet. “Or they don’t want to know: They see it as a kind of capitulation,” said Blair Feltmate, who runs Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Project.
Sustainability on the Mind: ‘Externalities’
From Sustainable Man:
David Suzuki explains the fallacy of conventional economics, in an interview done for the BBC. The song is “Outro” by M83.
Seen around town: a bird’s eye view of the Stanley Park seawall this past weekend. The seawall is grade separated with lanes for folks on bikes and foot.
Seen around town: Some straphangers lined up along the rainy block of West 4th ave & Vine earlier this week.
If you don’t know what a straphanger is check out Taras Grescoe’s awesome book on the topic: www.tarasgrescoe.com/straphanger/about.html.
Building for the Future: 'Cities can get greener by 2030 as new urban areas built'
The world’s urban areas will more than double in size by 2030, presenting an opportunity to build greener and healthier cities, a U.N. study showed on Monday. Simple planning measures such as more parks, trees or roof gardens could make cities less polluted and help protect plants and animals, especially in emerging nations led by China and India where city growth will be fastest, it said.
“Rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people’s health and well-being,” wrote Thomas Elmqvist of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, scientific editor of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook.
The world’s urban population is expected to surge from just over 3.5 billion now to 4.9 billion by 2030, according to the assessment by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. At the same time, the area to be covered by cities will expand by 150 percent, it said.
“Most of this growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in megacities,” according to the report, issued to coincide with a U.N. meeting on biodiversity in Hyderabad, India. More green spaces in cities can filter dust and pollution and soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Some studies have shown that the presence of trees can help reduce asthma and allergies for children living nearby, it said. And the study said that cities were also home to a wide range of animals and plants.
Check out the rest of the article here.
(Photo: The High Line)
Many people would say that climate change is one of the most important problems that we humans are facing and it’s a really big, complicated and hard problem: that’s reason for pessimism. I think there is at least one reason for optimism, which is that we now have a new way of approaching really big, complicated, hard and global problems that wasn’t possible even 15 years ago.
If you think of things like Wikipedia, Google or the Linux open-sourced operating system, these examples all show that it is now possible to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people all over the world to solve really big, complicated and hard problems at a scale and with a degree of collaboration that was never possible before. So our goal in this project is to use that approach applied to the problem about what to do about global climate change.
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.