Mississippi flux

One of the things I’ve been thinking about this summer: the Northern Gulf of Mexico dead zone and the loss of wetlands in the Mississippi River Basin & Delta.

(Click on the maps for larger versions.)

[Citations for the images will follow – all found via the web.]


Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force



EcoPeace – Auja Competition

[I was asked to share information about this upcoming design competition in the West Bank. With out going too far into my personal views, I strongly believe in the need for peace in the Middle East. This design competition seems to be intended to move towards reconciliation and peace. The role of water rights and water security is rarely reported about by the media when covering the Middle East and central to any solution.]

EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is holding a design competition for improvements and ecological designs for their Jordan Rift Valley Center for Environmental Education and Ecotourism Development, also called Auja Center, in Auja Municipality, West Bank, Palestine.

• Register by September 30th, 2010.
• Submit by November 15th, 2010.
• Jury decision by December 15th, 2010.

Here is the message I got:

I am approaching you to request for your help in getting the word out for this design competition in Auja – a Palestinian Village. [the site is in the Jordan Rift Valley]

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Our primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage. In so doing, we seek to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in our region. FoEME has offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel-Aviv. FoEME is a member of Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world. Click here for our Annual Report 2007 [pdf].

Would greatly appreciate if you could spread the word and introduce professionals and especially peace/community/environmental students to this competition… Please could you help to spread this via your blog/students/networks.

[ Edited 7/20 – personal information was removed per the senders request ]

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The View from the Road

Originally published in 1964, Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch, and John Myer’s The View from the Road, is a seminal text worth knowing about. Way back in my undergraduate days, I discovered the book and then forgot the title. Since then I’ve been haunted by the compelling diagrams and visual language. Luckily, Marcel Smets cites it in The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure, so I’ve had the chance to rediscover this magical book.

It’s worth noting the similarities to Halprin’s notational system (see landscapeandurbanism for more).

The few copies available of The View from the Road are priced between $150 and $1100. Let’s start a campaign to get a 50th Anniversary edition issued by writing Roger Conover, Executive Editor for Art, Architecture, Visual & Cultural Studies at MIT Press.

[from Appleyard’s other seminal book: Livable Streets]


Appleyard, D., Lynch, K. & Myer, J.R., 1964. The View from the Road, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press for the Joint Center for Urban Studies of M.I.T. and Harvard University.

The_Writings_of Appleyard_1170


http://www.pps.org/dappleyard/ reprint of Appleyard’s obit and discussion of his career.




Infrastructural solutions to climate change

With the announcement that the Third Runway expansion at Heathrow (along with additional runways at Stansted and Gatwick) has been canceled because, ‘more flying was incompatible with Britain’s oft-stated goal of curbing emissions’, it is worth looking at the relationship between infrastructure and carbon emissions. (This is against the trend where airports around the world are in the midst of a major round of improvements, including JFK).

As reported in the NYTs:

The emissions were a significant factor” in the decision to cancel the runway-building plans, Teresa Villiers, Britain’s minister of state for transport, said in an interview. “The 220,000 or so flights that might well come with a third runway would make it difficult to meet the targets we’d set for ourselves.” She said that local environmental concerns like noise and pollution around Heathrow also weighed into the decision

This brings infrastructure’s role (such as runways and highways) in driving emissions to the forefront. The Engineer claims that the “third runway should in theory make air travel in the U.K. more efficient and produce less emissions” due to shorter waiting to take off and “circling”. But I strongly disagree that more runway or highway capacity is what the world needs.

Like cheaper gasoline leading to lower vehicle efficiency and more miles driven, adding more roads and runways are also an example of Jevon’s Paradox, where the reduced cost (ie time) of using a resource causes folks to use more of it. Just like when a highway gets more lanes to alleviate traffic congestion, but instead ends up having more lanes of cars traveling just as slowly. We need to build less carbon mongering infrastructure like roads and runways (and it’s not just the embedded carbon in the concrete and steel), and more energy efficient modes like high-speed rail and mass transit.

More runways = more flying = more emissions

More roads = more driving = more emissions

More high speed rail = less driving & flying = less emissions

Mass transit & density = less driving = less emissions

it’s not just the CO2 per mile that matters, it is the number of miles traveled!

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