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Architecture as a tool for building resilient cities by @MarIntroini

Being resilient means face uncertainty with pillars that guarantee stability and capacity to response to the “new”. This is how new realities forces to reshape a world in which infrastructure and services become flexible and versatile. Migration crisis or climate change pushes us to rethink a world in which urban spaces are designed for new-revolutionary standards of living.

Half of humanity, around 3.5 billion of people lives in cities today. By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas which represents a strong reason for building cities that welcome this overwhelming number of people and their demands in a threaten environment.




Even if there is a political global commitment to achieve Goal 11 of the SDG´s: “Make cities and human resettlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is important to raise awareness and build new parameters at local level that mark the road for the next decade in a determinate and ambitious way. In the context of current “broken” world of weak commitment to global standards there is much more challenge and the search for stronger tools become paramount.

Architecture has become that tool, the relief that the world is awaiting. With innovation and creativity is showing its capacity to reinvent itself and construct the unimaginable. Rooftop gardens, urban farming, self-energy efficient houses, office-building with an integrated farm, are just examples of the impressive changes that architecture could make in societies. Is it not just a matter of changing design of construction styles but also a new way of living, above all producing a feeling. The emotional element that determinate the need for achieving results from a different perspective. In which multicultural spaces boost a mentality and a culture around tolerance and inclusiveness. The Pavilion in Vojvodina, northern Serbia* it’s a good model of this new trend that is helping to boost a new innovative concept that –in this case- assures freedom of religion. The acceptance of a “melting pot” of religions becomes also a matter of “architecture design”.

Globalization has brought more movement of people and also new demands for clean and healthy standards of living in which the cultural aspect cannot be missed. People move through public patterns of behavior and the sense of being part of a general consensus. Despite confrontation there is an important element of “being part of…” that allow them to be in one position or another. Is with this spirit that cities has contributed greatly to create multicultural societies. “Being part of….” is not a matter of local perspective but of the creation of open and inclusive spaces. The boost of globalization comes from the free movement of people –please do not confuse it with massive flow or refugees- that transform societies in a different and better place. Indeed, little towns that keep traditions intact are inclined to disappear as it doesn´t deliver the needed standards that fit in current world. Precisely migration has brought this element of merger of traditions and birth of a new layered of societies. That is the reason of being a value added for the growth of cities, therefore societies.

The complementary work of architecture and urban planning are key elements to achieve these new and ambitious standards. A green way of living means a smart urban planning and architecture enough flexible and versatile that gives room to a new philosophy of living.

Concrete, wood, timber, natural materials and a smart mind to be creative and innovative enough to build cities able to welcome all nature of people and “knit” new habits to protect the environment and adapt to current and future crises.

“Whatever you do, promise me that every project you make or design, you´ll take the risk of doing something for humanity”. Frank Ghery. Indeed, whatever is done should be focused on a creative and innovative architecture that helps to boost pillars around adaptation and an urban planning, ambitious enough to boost a resilient society.

Mar Introini

Blogger/Analyst Political-Economy thesustainabilityreader.com




Isolating the US from green policies would make it less competitive by @marintoironi

We have seen with astonishment a recent resolution from American government, announcing its commitment ditch its Climate Change Action Plan.

After COP21 the world became a block against climate change as never before. That includes not only policies but also the consolidation of the concept of global leadership that emerges as a solid and stable pillar that marks the beginning of an effective interconnected system of joint action. However, this is not suitable for anti-globalist forces that see in this kind of initiatives a threat for their isolationist strategy that helps them to boost a far right agenda. Surprisingly climate change action has become dangerous from a nationalist political perspective.




Trump makes America an isolated Nation not only on political and foreign affairs terms but also regarding green policies and a world that is moving towards a joint action focus.

The U.S. is not rich enough in natural resources to be self-sustaining in future decades. Isolate US from global green policies in addition to not investing on innovation is an explosive combination that would make the U.S. less competitive and no resilient. Indeed, green policies are part of being resilient at national level but are not enough if is it not in conjunction with global action and cooperation: that is the only resilient way out. That goes directly in relation to a global and safe system of international relations…. not multiple-selective-bilateral relations. Even if there were political will for investing in green energies like solar or wind, they’re will not being enough if is not under good and healthy international relations. It´s for this reason the imperative for generating a new trend and a new culture among American people: to reduce individual consumption, invest in green clean energies and above all on innovation.Taking in account that US is the country that spends more in energy than the rest of the world. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.

If there is a boycott from US to a global joint action by cancelling international agreements this could only be translated in loneliness in resilient terms.

That´s not good news for American people although good for those American industries that are not willing to invest in clean energies. Paradoxically one of the main argumentations for this switch in American focus was “recovering our jobs” however it doesn´t seem to include the ones generated by clean energies.“8.1 million renewable energy jobs that exist globally, 3.5 million are in China, compared to less than one million in the U.S.”.*China will invest £292bn in renewable power by 2020, which means new and more employment at national level. Investing in renewables is it also part of a growth strategy.

This “break” with the rest of the world is it also a break within America as it goes against the will of many citizens that have seen in climate change action a priority in the political agenda. Which represents a stronger political failure worst than the investment in itself. Going back in time and loosing all the work done at Educational level, making citizens aware of their commitment with the environment, means literally destroying an emerging American green culture as well as divided a community of ideas and potential. Joint action is the way out at global and national level.

US will become weaker and this lack of investment and sensibility towards the new challenges would make it vulnerable concerning the most important aspect of a society: Education.

Cooperation will become the only way for surviving and become resilient from a world hit by multiple crises. Joint action represents the way out that US will not have if there continue in this line of isolation and “personal” foreign affairs relations. No commitment with international agreements in addition with no solidarity is generating a negative spiral. This is not only about a unilateral anti-global focus it will generate an anti-US boycott against American products and no cooperation in times of crises.

That is the devastating impact of Trump´s anti-green policies that are not just focusing in destroying this industry but the impact that creates: becoming not competitive. Not even their allies are in line with this focus. Russia -despite their intention to have a good relation with US- has developed a strong investment in clean energies, e.g. bio fuels.

Saying no to investment in clean energies means saying no to sustainability in the medium term and saying yes to profits to private interest in the short term.

In terms of competitiveness, the development of clean energies has become part of a modern industrial and commercial way of living and producing. US will become an outsider that even there new and bilateral alliances will not accompanied them.

The only basis to explain this resistance to be out of a green global world is because of a short-term vision on financial investment. There is not a logical or visionary reason that could support a decision that will leave US behind on new technologies. Hence, more vulnerable for facing a world submerged in multiple crises. An unjustified denial for investing in innovation completes this stage of chaos in which short-termism is leading the way without vision and a smart strategy able to make US resilient.

 

*http://bit.ly/2jd6rSl

*Surrealist picture: Hossein Zare




The Purse is Mightier Than the Pen – by @GeorgeMonbiot

Having attended a fantastic talk on Loneliness by George on the 5th of November 2016 I got to talk to a man who has inspired many to tackle climate change, to keep it in the ground, to fight for the world in which we all live. It was a humbling experience and to hear him talk with such passion about loneliness (an area of real potency for me) too was a real honour. Thanks George and all who like you continue to inspire in the face of unprecedented destruction and seemingly immovable and irreversible tides. Some sections of this take on more significance then many would have expected, particularly over level of will and US involvement with climate deals following the presidential election.



The climate crisis is here, now, but a compromised, corrupted media doesn’t want to know.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 3rd August 2016

What is salient is not important. What is important is not salient. The media turns us away from the issues that will determine the course of our lives, and towards topics of brain-melting irrelevance.

Television channel controllers, perhaps the least accountable arbiters in public life, see themselves as edgy and provocative, but they have purged from the schedules almost all challenges to established power. Newspapers style themselves defenders of free speech, but within their own pages most of them stamp out dissenting voices and dissonant topics. If you are scarcely aware of what confronts us, don’t blame yourself.

This, on current trends, will be the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st Century. Each of the past 14 months has beaten the global monthly temperature record. But you can still hear people repeating the old claim, first proposed by fossil fuel lobbyists, that global warming stopped in 1998.

Arctic sea ice covered a smaller area last winter than in any winter since records began. In Siberia, an anthrax outbreak is raging through the human and reindeer populations, because infected corpses locked in permafrost since the last epidemic in 1941 have thawed. India has been hammered by cycles of drought and flood, as extreme heating parches the soil and torches glaciers in the Himalayas. Southern and eastern Africa have been pitched into humanitarian emergencies by drought. Wildfires storm across America; coral reefs around the world are bleaching and dying.

Throughout the media, these tragedies are reported as impacts of El Nino: a natural weather oscillation caused by blocks of warm water forming in the Pacific. But the figures show that it accounts for only one fifth of the global temperature rise. The El Nino phase has now passed, but still the records fall.

Eight months ago in Paris, 177 nations promised to try to ensure that the world’s average temperature did not rise by more than 1.5C above the pre-industrial level. Already it has climbed by 1.3C – faster and further than almost anyone predicted. In one respect, the scientists were wrong. They told us to expect a climate crisis in the second half of this century. But it’s already here.

If you blinked you would have missed the reports, but perhaps the most striking aspect of the Democratic platform (the party’s manifesto) approved in Philadelphia last week was its position on climate change. Hillary Clinton’s campaign now promises a national and global mobilisation “on a scale not seen since World War II.” She will seek to renegotiate trade deals to protect the living world, to stop oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic and to ensure America is “running entirely on clean energy by mid-century.”

There are some crashing contradictions in the platform. To judge by one bizarre paragraph, the Democrats believe they can solve climate change by expanding roads and airports. It boasts about record sales in the car industry and promises to cut “red tape”, which is the term used by corporate lobbyists for the public protections they hate. But where it is good it is very good, reflecting the influence of Bernie Sanders and the nominees he proposed to the drafting committee.

Trump, on the other hand – well, what did you expect? Climate change is a “con-job” and a “hoax”, that was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”. His platform reads like a love letter to the coal industry. Coal, it says, “is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.” He will defend the industry by rejecting the Paris agreement, stopping funds for the UN’s climate change work, ditching Obama’s clean power plan and forbidding the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide.




What’s most alarming about the platform is that Trump didn’t write it: the deranged and contradictory bluster of the Republican party leadership is a collective effort. But at least it clears something up. Though boasting of his great wealth and power, he poses as the friend of the common citizen and the enemy of corporate capital. On every significant issue in the platform, corporate capital wins. To read it is to discover where the land lies and where the lies land.

Incidentally, Trump’s executives don’t share his belief that climate change is a hoax. His golf resort in Ireland is seeking permission to build a wall – not to keep out Mexicans, but to defend his business from rising sea levels, erosion and storm surges caused, the application says, by global warming. If you can buy your way out of trouble, who cares about the other seven billion?

It’s not that the media failed to mention what the two platforms said about humanity’s existential crisis. But the coverage was, for the most part, relegated to footnotes, while the evanescent trivia of the conventions led the bulletins and filled the front pages. There are many levels of bias in the media, but the most important is the bias against relevance.

In Britain, the media largely failed to hold David Cameron to account for his extravagant green promises and shocking record. Theresa May has made some terrible appointments, but the new climate change minister, Nick Hurd, is an interesting choice, as he seems to understand the subject. The basic problem, however, is that the political costs of failure are so low.

To pretend that newspapers and television channels are neutral arbiters of such matters is to ignore their place at the corrupt heart of the establishment. At the US conventions, to give one small example, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and Politico were paid by the American Petroleum Institute to host discussions, which provided a platform for climate science deniers. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the purse is mightier than the pen.

Why should we trust multinational corporations to tell us the truth about multinational corporations? And if they cannot properly inform us about the power in which they are embedded, how can they properly inform us about anything?

If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse, only with a social licence to operate. The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the one for which I work.

www.monbiot.com




@MarIntroini : The Resilient Cities System. That is #Sustainable & #Green #Cities

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the great @MarIntroini  for writing another guest post for us.

The piece was also posted here on Mar’s blog.

amsterdam_ave

Resilience seems to be just another fashion word that defines the need of renewed architecture projects and technology systems. However resilience is a holistic concept that demands and in-depth review of current standards of living as well as the built of new economic-financial codes under the framework of a strong political will. The capacity of changing a status quo that is not responsive is the challenge for facing uncertainty effectively.

Since the start of the modern era, cities become a factor of development but also of chaos. More and more people migrate to urban areas and is expected that 70% of the world population will live in cities by 2050 which create the ambitious goal for a modern way of living: an urban life that includes the benefits from nature. By the contrary of what we could imagine, it´s possible! Changing rural for urban life does not necessary means loosing the contact with nature and a clean environment. Is a matter of innovation and changing habits: vertical gardens, green roofs, parks, more walk able areas, plants turn to generators of electricity, transport powered by clean energies, solar, wind energy, urban farming, etc. All of the above are green pieces of an urban puzzle that boost resilience.

Climate change and their growing threats have exposure our weakness to face crisis and the lack of adaptation methods that encompasses a new normal of drought, floods and an unusual weather that affects crops, hence food habits. Emergency situations are not only a matter of humanitarian aid –that need to be reshaped according to the new reality- but of adaptation policies that are also an urgent matter, even if there results may not be perceived in the short term. Prevention measures are not a priority anymore but adaptation to make resilience a real goal; through strong innovate policies that could go in harmony with those adaptive policies.

To get to 100% resilient cities is paramount to be aware of the need of a systemic process in which all elements are of equal importance. There is one pillar that has a key role: innovation in technology and architecture in conjunction with the creativity of building new behavioural codes political and individually.Without innovation all sides of this revolutionary process means nothing if it is not combined with a strong political will and a smart distribution of resources.

In this process of adaptation, education plays a paramount role to produce “adaptive minds” able to become a catalyzer of changes by reforming the system in a holistic way. Therefore politics, economics, finances and civil society must joint together in an effort to change habits and boost creativity towards green minds.

To achieve those goals a reform of the entire system in a strategic plan in which political old codes are left aside and a new political class emerges to design with creativity and determination the path for a reformed system.

Being Green is not another fashion attitude but an essential pillar to become resilient towards the new challenges that the environment is posing. A change of mind is the password to start this creative process of living in “green code”.

The C02 soaking Sponge made with …. Baking Soda

CrowdLeaf, we have a problem, a big one.  A problem I do not need to tell you, your probably here reading this because you know of this problem. C02 emissions and the catastrophic damage it causes to our climate and environment. The collective problem of climate change, needs a collective response. So on this the first blog I am doing for CrowdLeaf, I would like to say thank you for joining in a collective response to this collective problem.

A news story caught my eye recently, for me it symbolises the momentum that we have behind tackling the emissions, it is a story of Carbon capture. Carbon Capture is one way in which we can mitigate the negative effect we are having on the world and we should be doing all we can to capture as much carbon dioxide as we can from the root causes as well as what we can to lower the amount of causes of emissions.

First I want to put an argument to bed, I have been told that carbon capture just allows bad behavior, or at least bad practice to go on longer. I get the angle but I put this to you, some decisions will be made around the world that we will have no power over, we have no say in and that will go ahead regardless. Only through advancements in this sort of technology can we mitigate these damages while we push for a better world. In, local, company, national, pan national or global agreements this sort of technology strengthens our hand when we are entering negotiations around emissions and lowers the cost of tackling the problems we face.




In global negotiations such as COP21 which happened in Paris recently are about overcoming a lot of vested interests and sadly about a lot of money that does quite well from the status quo. This is where carbon capture really shows its strength, the emergence of new technologies allows more uptake for less costs and the increased bargaining power that comes with a lower cost of carbon reduction technologies is a good result for us.

There is a noble and pragmatic case behind carbon capture, the world would be a lot worse if we did not try and at least mitigate the negative externalities that arise from what is the largest cause of emissions. invest in new innovations to stop emissions is still technology that can be used in other countries where our movement may not be as strong. There is not yet the capacity on renewable energy and sustainable alternatives to shut off these very dirty but very profitable industries. So for every increase in the quantities of C02 that can be captured is a minor victory.

Last year the government withdrew its support for carbon capture, but today I can announce that despite losing state backing, the C02 soaking sponge keeps going with the support of baking Soda! – Through the use of 3D printers scientists have been able to make a new sponge-like substance that captures C02 and creates backing soda. The sponge is made to increase the surface area and when the surface makes contact with CO2 they react and create baking soda through the mixing of water, C02 and sodium carbonate.

The beauty of this is that baking soda has a market, green baking soda has a far more ethical tinge to add to a future kitchen cabinet. If you’ll excuse the cliche if this works ‘were really cooking on gas now’.   CrowdLeaf wish everyone on the team the best of luck in creating the final product and hope they can get it to market as soon as.