infographic of the day – water change

Perhaps the most devastating impact of climate change to most American cities are water related. Yes, there is likely to be both increased flooding and droughts as precipitation events become more intense and sporadic. Without water (and with too much) our cities will wither.

Solar Hillside LA

Along the Arroyo Seco between Los Angeles and Pasadena (and visible from the 110), a nursing home has installed a hillside 80-array photovoltaic system on their 11-acre property in the fall of 2010 and ignited a fracas of NIMBYism. The project produces approximately 93% of the facilities net energy needs and is expected to pay for it’s $1.6m price tag in 12 years.

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Check out the news report from abc 7 about the controversy over the project.

The discussion and knee-jerk NIMBY reaction is pretty interested to parse, especially the perception of the political intervention to temporarily halt the project on ‘safety’ grounds (which didn’t halt getting the project built). The owner’s legal response to the city council two-week injunction is here [pdf]. Continue reading


Light by David Parker is a haunting look at light pollution. Via treehugger.

[The film] initially began as a project intended to bring awareness to energy waste. Bleeding, crying lights were meant to metaphorically parallel the way in which we invisibly squander our natural resources without much thought. While the original sentiment remains, the film also grew into a poetic statement about a world run amok and the human tendency to exploit that which we hold dear.

The film was shot over a couple nights in Los Angeles as two friends drove around with a camera exploring the city’s architecture and abandoned landscapes.

Hope my students can produce videos this effective!

Buffalo Commons

Originating with two social scientists out of New Jersey, DE Popper & FJ Popper,  back in 1987, the concept for re-wilding the great plains to establish the ‘Buffalo Commons‘ [pdf] has been met with skepticism if not outright rejection by most of the region’s residents. As the population across much of the western range drops below the 6 people per square mile threshold of Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier theory, it is worth reconsidering the status of The Far West to The Midlands as Colin Woodward calls them. Perhaps we can also restore the traditional territories of the Plains Indians as the buffalo return too.

2000 population map legend (no 2010 census maps are available yet):

  • 0-1 (white)
  • 1-4 (yellow)
  • 5-9 (yellow-green)
  • 10-24 (green)
  • 25-49 (teal)
  • 50-99 (dark teal)
  • 100-249 (blue)
  • 250-66,995 (dark blue)

If fences are one of the essential infrastructure of the late 19th century plains, removing them opens up the question of how they originally shaped the rural landscape that we now know. Of course, the original infrastructure was and Jefferson’s Public Land Survey System, followed by wagon trails (as I’m not sure if the game trails/indian trails can be seen as discreet systems separate from the landscape matrix), then the Transcontinental Railroad before the interstate freeways system and oil pipelines emerged.

Woodward’s American map

Continue reading

Call for Jurors & Guests – Winter 2012

For my upcoming 4th year BSLA studio at Cal Poly Pomona, Sublime Infrastructures: Sylmar, I’m seeking Los Angeles based documentary filmmakers (directors, editors, sound folks, cinematographers) and landscape architects with an interest in the city, infrastructure, sustainability, tactical urbanism, and the sublime to be class guests.  Guests will either serve as jurors or assist the students in producing videos that integrate their designs and analysis drawings with footage of the city.

Continue reading

climate change map of the day

The NRDC has released a new map that animates [click the link to get to the flash page] the impact of extreme weather in 2011 caused to climate change. The map is part of a study published in the journal Health Affairs. The study identified climate change has caused an estimated 1,689 premature deaths, 8,992 hospitalizations, 21,113 emergency room visits, and 734,398 outpatient visits so far in 2011. More maps by the NRDC team documenting climate change impacts to the US are available here and their description of the methodology is here. [via LATimes]

As #COP17 wraps up, the NRDC’s study underscores the urgency for global action to contain carbon emissions as so eloquently interjected by Ms. Borah:

“I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot.  The obstructionist Congress has shackled justice and delayed ambition for far too long. I am scared for my future. 2020 is too late to wait. We need an urgent path to a fair ambitious and legally binding treaty.

You must take responsibility to act now, or you will threaten the lives of youth and the world’s most vulnerable.

You must set aside partisan politics and let science dictate decisions. You must pledge ambitious targets to lower emissions not expectations.  Citizens across the world are being held hostage by stillborn negotiations.

We need leaders who will commit to real change, not empty rhetoric. Keep your promises. Keep our hope alive. 2020 is too late to wait.”

–Abigail Borah, December 8, 2011 [source]

I am as inspired by Ms. Borah’s civil disobedience as I was by Tim DeChristopher’s actions to halt the illegal auction of mineral rights. We all need to stand up and tell the politicians to take action!

We can mitigate, we can adapt, or we can suffer. I am scared for our future too.