Architectural marvels inspired by climate change

Architectural marvels inspired by climate change

In China, the futuristic spiraling pink Phoenix Towers will not only be the tallest buildings in the world, but also especially environmentally innovative featuring wind turbines, an ambitious air cleaning system, and a vertical garden. … Reaching up to one kilometer, the Phoenix Towers will rise out of a 116-acre site on an island within a lake along the Yangtze River as it runs through the city of Wuhan, the capital of central China. … The Phoenix Towers … will aim to clean the surrounding water and air. A thermal chimney in the center of the taller tower will draw air from the surrounding lakes to cool the buildings. The air will then be filtered and released back into the …more» 

No False Choices: We must slash both CO2 and Methane

No False Choices: We must slash both CO2 and Methane

We’ve been told the basic falsehood that somehow fracking is going to save us, which is basically the opposite of the truth. — Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia’s Earth Institute Some confusion has been generated on this issue by a Tuesday New York Times piece, “Picking Lesser of Two Climate Evils,” which frames our optimum climate strategy as a choice between targeting CO2 and targeting super pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, that together cause some 40% of the warming we’re experiencing now. But that is a “false choice,” as longtime NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell explained to me. We have to do both to maximize lives saved and minimize the chances of dangerous warming. … Absent an effort to …more» 

The Birth of a Freestore

The Birth of a Freestore

It is true that many suffer from profound scarcity of basic needs, but many people reading this article will recognize that, conversely, many also suffer from a surfeit of possessions, most of which lack meaning in our lives. Many of us work long hours at tedious jobs to afford things that we've been taught (by advertising and our culture of consumption) fills a void. That is a lie. The objects that fill our homes don't fill voids or heal wounds. They create more voids, more responsibilities, and more pressure to accumulate. … [W]ell before the invention of money, items of high value represented the tremendous time, complex trade-relationships, and access to resources that one person would give to another to …more» 

Orwellian Newspeak and the fake oil abundance story

Orwellian Newspeak and the fake oil abundance story

The oil industry's fake abundance story is so full of verbal legerdemain that it has become a sort of lexicon of Newspeak for oil. The public relations firms and fake think tanks behind this Newspeak have already achieved a notable goal, one styled as "doublethink" in Orwell's 1984. … We now have nearly an entire population in the United States and nearly an entire media establishment that believes that oil is abundant — not because of the objective facts, but because of the oil industry's highly successful public relations campaign, a campaign that is still underway. The reason it is still underway is that it is essential to repeat the fake abundance story again and again in order to drown …more» 

Maine port community foils tar sands pipeline reversal

Maine port community foils tar sands pipeline reversal

On Monday evening, the city council in South Portland, Maine made a small change to a commercial zoning law that had much larger international repercussions for the fossil fuel industry and the climate. The council stopped another “Plan B” to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by voting 6-1 to pass an ordinance that bans the bulk loading of crude oil onto ships from the town’s waterfront. This means that the Portland-Montreal pipeline, which is now used to pump crude oil from the U.S. to Canada, would find it very difficult to reverse its flow to begin pumping tar sands crude oil extracted from Alberta to export in Portland. … As Canadian tar sands oil production has grown, it has …more» 

Two Realities: A fork in the road

Two Realities: A fork in the road

Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different — and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory — realities. One of these might be termed Political Reality, though it extends far beyond formal politics and pervades conventional economic thinking. It is the bounded universe of what is acceptable in public economic-social-political discourse. The other is Physical Reality: i.e., what exists in terms of energy and materials, and what is possible given the laws of thermodynamics. … Within the realm of political reality, anybody who questions the importance of growth is not to be taken seriously. Such a person is obviously not a humanitarian, nor a responsible participant in mainstream political and economic discussions. It wasn’t always this way: …more» 

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

This [free online] book is aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning, particularly those who, to borrow a phrase from Pascal, are so made that they understand best through visuals. I have selected a small set of common errors in reasoning and visualized them using memorable illustrations that are supplemented with lots of examples. The hope is that the reader will learn from these pages some of the most common pitfalls in arguments and be able to identify and avoid them in practice. The literature on logic and logical fallacies is wide and exhaustive. This work's novelty is in its use of illustrations to describe a small set of common errors in reasoning that plague a lot of …more» 

Challenging locavores: distance measure is too simplistic

Challenging locavores: distance measure is too simplistic

Transportation of food, over long distances or short, represents a tiny share of the total energy invested in food production. Far more energy is used on farms, in food processing plants of all sorts, in the wholesale warehouses and retail outlets where food is stored or displayed before sale, and finally within households where consumers refrigerate, freeze, process and cook food after driving to a grocery store, farmers' market or food service establishment to acquire it. If we really want to make strides in reducing the energy intensity of food, these latter areas are where we'll find most opportunities for efficiency gains. … My goal with this post isn't necessarily to pull the rug out from beneath the local food …more» 

Savage: A residential school musical

On a summer day in the 1950s, a native girl watches the countryside go by from the backseat of a car. A woman at her kitchen table sings a lullaby in her Cree language. When the girl arrives at her destination, she undergoes a transformation that will turn the woman’s gentle voice into a howl of anger and pain. In a place like this, there aren’t many chances to be a kid. But, when no one’s watching… A residential school musical. — Lisa Jackson on her short film Savage http://rpm.fm/news/video-lisa-jacksons-savage/ Google+: View post on Google+

Leonard Cohen on creativity, hard work, and perseverance

Leonard Cohen on creativity, hard work, and perseverance

Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it… I can’t discard a verse before it is written because it is the writing of the verse that produces whatever delights or interests or facets that are going to catch the light. The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines. … I always used to work hard. But I had no idea what hard work was until something changed in my mind… I don’t really know what it was. Maybe some sense that this whole enterprise is limited, that there was an end in sight… That you were really truly mortal. http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/07/15/leonard-cohen-paul-zollo-creativity/ Leonard Cohen on creativity, hard work, and perseverance Before …more»