While it’s admittedly dated in relation to internet time, this recent Upworthy post resurrects a 2009 New Scientist article comparing the environmental footprints of household pets vs. those of various vehicles. Its soundbite takeaway? Your medium-sized dog has roughly twice the footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Guess it’s time to issue some formal letters of apology to the owners of plus-sized roadsters and start setting up euthanasia camps for our former furry friends and their silent agenda to destroy the earth, right?
Deep in an April 14 New York Times story on the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami was mention of an iPhone app called Yurekuru that gives warning of an impending quake. The name, said the Times, translates into English roughly as, “the shaking is coming.”
Before the March 11 quake, the app attracted 100,000 users. Now: 1.5 million.
In a sense, living organisms could always be fairly certain that a shaking of some kind was on the way. Life on earth has been shaped by violence, by sudden upheavals and reversals of fortune for one hapless population or another. Foreboding is written into the human psyche. It’s only recently that we’ve felt entitled to be spared.
In 1992, Rage Against the Machine’s Zach De La Rocha offered a dire warning to a restless but aimless Generation X: “If we don’t take action now,” he sang, “we’ll settle for nothing later.” An anthemic rallying cry and yet, just ten years thereafter, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard was introducing those same listeners to “the sound of settling.”
While the idea of settling carries with it some pretty unsettling connotations, its execution is proving nothing of the sort. In short, the settling down of Generation X, whose youngest members are now turning 30, may very well prove to be a pivotal baby step towards the construction of a more resilient future.
Federal government to sustainability efforts: You’re terminated.
In a blockbuster-style showdown, the House Appropriations Committee started a furor this month as they proposed the elimination of HUD, USDOT and EPA sustainability programs in 2011-12, as well as suggesting the rescinding of dollars already awarded by the Sustainability and TIGER grant programs. As municipalities, counties and regional COGs scramble to find ways to focus the weak development market forces into more sustainable patterns of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, the possible removal of the federal support is discouraging.
Looks like we’re gonna have to go indie.
Sense of community. It’s been a rallying cry of New Urbanists since the beginning and for good reason. For years leading up to the birth of the neo-traditionalists, it didn’t take much effort to realize that our surroundings had changed—a lot—and not for the better.
Our neighborhoods—subdivisions, really—were isolating us from each other and from the things we needed to get done. Despite the ample comforts we’d developed to help mitigate the separation, that’s simply not a good recipe for human productivity, much less fulfillment.
There was a hole to be filled, and the distinctly market-based New Urbanists stepped in to fill it. Continue reading
Here’s a story of hope for the holidays. And like most good stories, it begins with bad news.
On April 20, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 of its 126 rig workers. That was the first tragedy. Then, came the second, as oil from the uncapped well began spilling into the Gulf. By mid-July, when the well was finally secured, more than 170 million gallons had flowed into the deep waters, and arguments escalated about whom to blame and about how many terrible things were likely to happen. Continue reading
The obesity epidemic isn’t really “news” anymore (thank you, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution) yet when I question my friends who work outside the fields of design and planning on why Americans are so fat, they tie everything back to poor food choices. But what about exercise? They reply that if you want to exercise, just find yourself a park or a gym. No worries.
So, although we know that there is an obesity “problem,” one with significant national impacts, the average American still is not aware that it is, in many ways, a design problem. A result of a built environment that has been constructed over the past 50 years with one singular purpose – move more cars faster. Continue reading