Large parts of Brooklyn Bridge Park were submerged for up to four hours during Superstorm Sandy. On the Ecological Landscape Association’s web site, Rebecca McMackin, the park’s horticulturist, describes how the park is recovering from the storm. She credits the landscape architects at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates for their “forward-thinking park design”—their use of salt-tolerant native plants and sandy soils that drain quickly. She also explains how the site has been managed since the storm to flush salt out of the soils. The park’s managers used soil additives in various areas to reduce plant stress and will be monitoring the additives’ long-term effects. Read the whole story here.
Archive for the ‘CLIMATE’ Category
The silence in these elections around climate change is rather stunning–until you consider the context. For the context (i.e., voters worried about jobs and the economy), check out the pre-election edition of Frontline by John Hockenberry that aired on PBS October 23 about the current state of the climate-change conversation in Washington. It tracks the thinning of the climate debate since the 2008 election, when Barack Obama and John McCain “agreed that climate change was a critical issue demanding urgent attention.” Part of the program describes the work of a reporter, Coral Davenport, who covers energy and environment for National Journal. Davenport, at one point, attempted to survey Republicans in Congress with three simple questions on climate change (Republicans, she says, because almost no Democrats will flat-out deny its existence). “Normally lawmakers love to answer questions,” she says, but when she tried to ask members for their views in person, “they literally ran into elevators.” (An online interview with Davenport by Azmat Khan is here. Links to Davenport’s work can be found here.) Legislators who say they believe in climate change risk being crushed by candidates backed by skeptics’ money. Ask former Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.), a Republican climate-change believer, whom Arthur Allen interviewed for LAM in November 2011–he appears in the Frontline report. Also on the program: A rundown of the efforts this year by the North Carolina legislature to chill debate about climate change. One geologist near the center of that drama, Stanley Riggs, of East Carolina University, points to the surf and says, “That ocean will dictate what happens. The ocean is gonna win.”
NASA released these rather shocking satellite images of the polar ice caps this week. According to its scientists and researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the area of the arctic ice sheet fell to a record low on Sunday. And it is expected to continue to retreat over the next few weeks.
The extent of the arctic ice sheet grows during the winter and shrinks during the summer. The first photo above shows the total extent of the ice sheet’s retreat in the summer of 1979. The second shows its retreat so far this summer. The orange line shows the average minimum ice cover from 1979 to 2010.
According to NASA, the seasonal minimum area of the arctic ice sheet has gotten 13 percent smaller each decade for the past three decades.
Cap and trade legislation, aimed at reducing global warming, has not progressed very far in recent years. But James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, remains optimistic that Americans will find a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. And in a recent interview with Eliot Spitzer on Current TV, he offered an innovative approach to the problem.
Up at the Toronto Star, the critic Christopher Hume sees a rather unsustainable condo skyline going up in his city. He thumps this sort of development in the context of rising environmental consciousness in the building arts and sciences generally. “[W]e will look back at these early 21st-century towers much as we do now at suburbia,” Hume writes. “Too often, architectural elegance hides inner ecological ugliness.” He adds, pleasantly enough: “Landscape architects have been quicker to grasp this new reality that the built environment remains part of the larger environment.”
A major announcement comes today from four of the world’s leading botanical gardens: By 2020, they plan to launch what is called the World Flora, an online database to compile information on 400,000 plant species worldwide. The collaborators are the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. When it’s up and running, the World Flora will fulfill one major goal of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, which was articulated by the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002 “to halt the continuing loss of plant biodiversity around the globe.” It’s an extremely exciting prospect. Read the full details here.
From the April 2012 issue of LAM:
By Daniel Jost, ASLA
Winter never took hold in Washington, D.C., this year. So it was with our spring jackets that we greeted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first new Plant Hardiness Zone Map in 22 years on January 25. Here and there, you could see daffodils already in bloom.
The scene couldn’t have been more appropriate. According to the new map, large parts of the United States—including some neighborhoods in the nation’s capital—are now a half zone warmer than they used to be.
The hardiness zones help determine which plants will survive the winter in a given area of the United States. The map approximates the average minimum temperature as it divides the country into 10 degree Fahrenheit zones, which are further divided into 5 degree Fahrenheit half zones—marked by a number and the letter a or b. The National Mall, once located in USDA Zone 7a, is now in the warmer Zone 7b. Atlanta, Dallas, and Tampa, Florida, have all moved into warmer zones as well.
According to the Buffalo News, there is a shortage of pussy willow branches in Buffalo, New York, which could put a damper on today’s Dyngus Day celebration. The News blames a number of 80-degree days in March for the shortage.
They say everyone is Polish on Dyngus Day, a holiday to celebrate the end of Lent. It has become the Polish-American answer to Saint Patrick’s Day in Buffalo. People celebrate their real or imagined Polish heritage by splashing each other with water, tapping each other with pussy willows, eating pierogies, and dancing to polka music in the old abandoned railroad terminal. See a video on Buffalo’s Dyngus Day celebrations here.