The United Nations food agency reports that food prices are rising again, reaching 6-month highs and nearing levels not since 2008. Higher prices then spurred food riots in the Middle East and North Africa, which fueled the Arab Spring.
The oil product extracted from Canada’s tar sands isn’t like conventional crude. Known as bitumen, it’s sticky and so thick, it can’t flow down a pipeline without extensive processing. There are two methods for getting bitumen out of the ground and turning it into usable products. Both are complex, energy-intensive and expensive processes – but high oil prices are finally making tar sands profitable.
This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.
This subject is of vital importance, seeking as it does to uncover the principles of the long-term welfare of all the peoples of the planet. As sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, this foundation requires intellectual breadth: as I describe it in the class text, understanding our motivations requires the humanities, measuring the challenges of sustainability requires knowledge of the sciences (both natural and social), and building solutions requires technical insight into systems (such as provided by engineering, planning, and management).
All you need to participate is a decent internet connection and an up to date browser. More details including how to sign up here. You can download the class text for free here.
‘As Brazil readies itself for the upcoming 2014 World Cup, the honor and burden of hosting an even larger global sporting event still sits on the country’s shoulders. In conjunction with the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, several new structures will be erected in Rio’s cityscape. One of the many projects creating huge buzz is the Solar City Tower, an artificial waterfall designed to generate clean, renewable energy.
The vertical structure’s design is conducive to multiple functions: its primary purpose is to capture and distribute solar power to the Olympic Village and to the city, but it doubles as an observation tower. The 345-foot structure will have solar panels around its base, used to store energy during the day, releasing it through turbines for use at night. For special occasions, the turbine will pump seawater into the tower and then shoot it back out to sea, creating a waterfall effect in the middle of the ocean.
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