Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘POLLUTION’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

The DAPL crosses two watershed systems. Map by Alma and Friends.

The recently completed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) will run for 1,172 miles from northwest North Dakota to downstate Illinois, pumping 450,000 barrels of oil per day and costing $3.8 billion to build. Those are superlative numbers that can blot out the complexity and vulnerability of the landscapes and watersheds the pipeline traverses. Making these facets of the DAPL clear is the goal of maps created by an anonymous group of designers calling themselves Alma and Friends. Their work has been collected and packaged by the Los Angeles public television station KCET with a series of articles on the ecological consequences of the pipeline.

These maps detail regional watersheds, individual bodies of water, indigenous lands, the blotches of human settlement that dot this stretch of the Great Plains and midwestern prairie, and past and potential oil spills. Collected into a series of seven interactive maps by KCET, (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY STEVE AUSTIN, ASLA

Landscape architecture can mitigate carbon emissions, but it is also implicated among the causes.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, created by the consensus of 197 nations, went into effect in November 2016 and has enormous implications for the practice of landscape architecture. If adhered to by its signatories, the agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era by midcentury, well within the life spans of many landscape architects currently practicing. Though it may seem wonderfully “green,” this energy transition poses profound questions for the practice of landscape architecture at a time when the discipline is needed more than ever.

The Paris Agreement foretells a civilization powered nearly exclusively by renewably generated electricity, not fossil-fueled fire, like today. This will impose severe limits on landscape architecture’s materials, construction methods, and professional mobility. The agreement also portends a society with much less energy overall, as fossil fuels currently make up more than 80 percent of total energy consumed and cannot be easily replaced. These stark realities will challenge landscape architects to adapt to the impending zero-carbon future.

Last year set the record for the hottest year in measured history, breaking 2015’s record, which itself (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY ZACH MORTICE

São Paolo is a small aquaponics farming settlement where residents and visitors gather medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, by Vanessa Keith/StudioTEKA (New York: Urban Research, 2017). Courtesy of Terreform.

In the not-so-distant future, what remains of São Paulo is something like an ecoresort medical crop farm for ewoks. People from all over the world travel to its lush, frequently flooded rain forest and set up shop in ovular pods in the treetops connected by open-air skywalks. They farm fish, grow sugarcane, and harvest rare, medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. Crews deconstruct the old city, leaving more room for this life-saving flora to reassert itself.

A continent away, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, is also in the process of unbecoming. Residents of its single-family houses are cannibalizing their neighborhoods at the stern urging of statist security forces. (Let’s say something like United Nations troops, perhaps wearing black helmets instead of blue ones.) The nation’s sixth-largest city will be shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former size to make way for more massive solar energy farms that dominate the desert landscape. Former Arizonans are invited to move themselves along with the bricks and mortar of their communities to a burgeoning megacity in Vancouver. Some people don’t want to go, and are meeting in secret to talk about what to do if they’re forced.

Those companion (but tonally opposed) visions of the future begin with the same book, Vanessa Keith’s 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, published by Terreform’s Urban Research, Michael Sorkin’s publishing imprint. It envisions a world where (more…)

Read Full Post »

 

While most renewable energy advocates push for an inclusive “all of the above” approach that embraces solar panels, geothermal, and tidal power, there’s usually one method around which all others orbit. In Northern Europe and the North Sea, that’s wind power.

Dutch landscape architecture firm H+N+S has a plan to harness this potential by installing 25,000 wind turbines in the North Sea across 22,000 square miles, the focus of this month’s cover story, “Power Play 2050.” Over the next 33 years, they say the North Sea can generate 90 percent of power demanded.

H+N+S’s plan, dubbed “2050 – An Energetic Odyssey” and featured at the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, is an economic development plan as well as a climate change plan. They predict booming and expanded ports (including an entire island dedicated to the manufacture and construction of wind power infrastructure) and a net gain of jobs, even after accounting for job losses in fossil fuel industries. It would be an incomparable build-up of energy infrastructure, but there’s also a conscientious sense of economical re-use and environmental sensitivity. As described in the video, oil pipelines will be co-opted for carbon sequestration, serving the fossil fuel burners that remain. And wind turbines will have to be designed so that they act as welcoming habitats for underwater plants and animals. These towers will be 12 miles out from shore so that they don’t ruin anyone’s seaward view, far enough away so that the curvature of the earth makes them mostly imperceptible.

“It can be done,” intones the video’s calm, precise BBC-documentary-style narration, “but only when a tailwind can be organized in the shape of realistic pricing or taxation of carbon dioxide that would provide the invisible hand of the market with green gloves.”

Read Full Post »

BY ZACH MORTICE

Joshua Tree National Park in California, where the park’s signature Joshua trees are threatened by climate change. Photo by Zach Mortice.

The national parks advocacy nonprofit—created by the federal government—is pushing back against the new administration on all fronts.

In the months since Donald Trump’s election, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonprofit parks advocacy group, has taken aim at oil and gas drilling bills and rule changes from Republican majorities in Congress, draconian budget cut proposals from the White House, and a host of Trump-appointed agency administrators who’ll affect the health of the national park system. It’s even addressed the coarsening public rhetoric around basic civil rights granted to American citizens. These are all issues Theresa Pierno, NPCA’s president and CEO, sees as under assault by a cast of characters including climate-change deniers, pollution bystanders, and resource-extraction enthusiasts. All are newly empowered with Trump in the White House.

There’s a bill in Congress to ease rules that limit drilling for oil, gas, and minerals in national parks. And this month, LAM editor Brad McKee wrote about revisions to the Department of the Interior’s stream protection rules that make it easier for companies to dump mining waste into streams and waterways. The NPCA has opposed all of these moves.

When the Trump administration ordered the Department of the Interior (DOI), the parent agency of the National Park Service (NPS), to stop tweeting (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

mountaintop_removal_mine_in_pike_county_kentucky_resize

Image courtesy of iLoveMountains.org [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

FROM THE MARCH 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Among the very early priorities of the new Republican-controlled Congress was to give the greenest of lights to any corporation—corporations being people—that wants to blow off the top of a gorgeous Appalachian mountain for coal, throw the spoils into the nearest headwaters, ruin the stream, ruin much downstream, and destroy a spectrum of wildlife, not to mention human life, in the process.

The instrument was a joint resolution of the House and Senate that pulled back the Stream Protection Rule, a long-sought goal of the Obama administration to prevent mountaintop removal for mining, which took effect on January 19, Obama’s last day as president. Its reversal by Congress was presented to President Trump on February 6. The resolution kills the Obama rule, which (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015. Image courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

From the upcoming February 2017 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Instead of a sensible and humane overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with current realities, we are apparently going to get a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was among the most outlandish promises of the Trump campaign, if only one of its rank xenophobic turns: a gigantic blockade stretching from the Pacific Ocean, through the Sonoran Desert, and down the Rio Grande River to the Gulf of Mexico, with fear as its mortar. During the first week of the new Republican-led Congress, the House Republican Policy Committee chair, Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, told the Washington Post that legislators are looking for ways to begin work on such a wall under existing law and with American (not Mexican) money. The existing law Messer means is the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of actual fencing and a “virtual fence” of beefed-up surveillance along the Mexico border. That work remains incomplete. Barriers block less than half of the 1,954 miles of international boundary. Theoretically, a resumption of building could begin to lock it all up later this spring.

The human effects of this simplistic idea will be mixed. A big wall will stop some population flow, but hardly all of it, and it will kill informal cross border commerce. Ecologically, though, it is likely to be a catastrophe. It will fragment habitat on a huge scale in one of the most biologically diverse parts of North America—the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas alone is said to have (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »