Does New York City’s PlaNYC 2030 Adequately Address Climate Change Issues?

An Assessment Framework for Cities Coping with Climate Change: The Case of New York City and its PlaNYC 2030 (22 page pdf, Yosef Jabareen, Sustainability, Sep. 3, 2014)

Today we review a critique of New York’s much heralded action plan, published in 2005, to address the challenges facing that city from climate change. Using eight evaluating“concepts”, the author praises the city’s approach to physical aspects such as land, water and air and to a lesser extent, the proposed use of renewable energy, but criticizes the lack of public participation in the development and execution of the plan, especially at the local community level in an extremely multi-community and multi-ethnic urban area.

Official seal of New York City

Official seal of New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Was the Club of Rome Correct in Warning of a Global Collapse of Resources and Population?

Is Global Collapse Imminent? An Updated Comparison of The Limits to Growth with Historical Data (22 page pdf, Graham M. Turner, Melbourne Sustainable Society Insti¬tute, Aug. 2014)

Also discussed here: Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse (Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander , theguardian, Sep.2, 2014)
Today we review a study from Australia that compares the business as usual scenario to 2100 presented by the Club of Rome in its Limits to Growth book to the observed trends in population, resource depletion and pollution for the last 40 years. Results indicate a very close match and leads to a fear that the collapse that was indicated in the BAU scenario around 2030 may still take place, given the reluctance of many of the world’s largest resource consumers and polluters (China, USA, Russia, Brazil, Canada, etc) to replace carbon fuel with alternative fuels. Added to that is the very real concern that the transition to renewable energy, along with decreased population rates recommended by the Club of Rome may not be possible before the impending collapse.

club rome BAU scenarioclob of rome env BAU

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Are LRTs and Subways becoming Obsolete?

By 2040, We Won’t Need Subways (Candice Malcolm, Huffington Post Blog from Toronto Sun, Aug. 25, 2014)

Today we review a forward looking article which predicts that subways and Light Train Transit systems will be a fossil of the past when the technological revolution taking place in today and tomorrow’s cities replace them with driverless electric cars which are already a reality in some places. This outlook is not new to anyone who follows developments in urban mobility and makes one wonder about the wisdom of the Mayors in some cities, such as Toronto and Ottawa, where billions of dollars are projected and planned to buy obsolete forms of transportation that will not likely come close to meeting future demands.

English: A Tesla Roadster, Reva i and Ford Th!...

English: A Tesla Roadster, Reva i and Ford Th!nk electric cars parked at a free parking and charging station near Akershus fortress in Oslo, Norway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What does the Latest IPCC Report Say about Health Impacts from Climate Change?

Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (44 page pdf, IPCC WGII AR5 Summary for Policymakers, Mar. 31, 2014)

Also discussed here: Climate Change: Health Impacts and Opportunities – A Summary and Discussion of the IPCC Working Group 2 Report (19 page pdf, The Global Climate and Health Alliance, Apr. 3, 2014)

And here: Climate change: yes, it’s getting worse fast and it matters (Dianne Saxe, Environmental Law and Litigation, Mar. 31, 2014)

And here: Global warming dials up our risks, UN report says (CBC news, Mar. 31, 2014)

Today we review the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its Working Group that deals with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. With high confidence, the report notes that climate change for the next few decades will cause existing health impacts to get worse until by the end of the century for some times of the year and some parts of the world “projected to compromise normal human activities, including growing food or working outdoors”. There are similar assessments of the risks facing other sectors of society and in various regions in other ways but clearly the time for action was yesterday.

health cl change and cities

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How are Swedish Cities Planning to Adapt to Climatic Change Extremes?

Planning for Climatic Extremes and Variability: A Review of Swedish Municipalities’ Adaptation Responses(27 page pdf, Christine Wamsler and Ebba Brink, Sustainability, Mar. 14, 2014)

Today we focus our attention on Sweden, one of few countries in the world which is on track to become carbon neutral within this decade. The journal article under review looks at how Swedish cities approach the other side of climatic change- adapting to impacts, both natural and anthropogenic, using physical, economic and socio-economic measures. While there is little top-down direction at the national level beyond the provision of tools such as the Klimatanpassningsportalen on the internet to share practices and approaches, within cities top-down is the rule, leaving little for individual initiative but reflecting the local differences among the cities across Sweden.

local city role impacts

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Marketing the Environment

Amanda Little

Amanda Little (Photo credit: ChimpLearnGood)

Want everyone else to buy into environmentalism? Never say “Earth”(Heather Smith, Grist, Mar. 12, 2014)

Also discussed here: No, we’re not “environmentalists.” It’s more complicated than that (Samantha Larson, Grist, Mar. 7, 2014)

Today we review a report from a source we rarely do- an environmental activist organization, Grist. The article looks at the question of why the public at large is so slow to accept and act on the alarm bells that are rung so loudly by the activists.

The answer seems to lie in several things:

  • failure to budget enough for communications (as opposed to fund raising and membership drives)
  •  failure to relate the environmental issue to people’s lives
  • failure to explain and keep the description of the issue simple
  • failure to repeat the message line enough until it reaches the public
  • *failure to adjust to the common sense outlook of millennials

Bottom line is to stop using the terms, such as “the environment” and “sustainable development”, and to start appealing to what makes sense to the man or woman on the street. Stop talking about “air quality” and start talking about how commuting to work by car harms the health of everyone enroute- and by how much.

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Modelling Cities According to Isobenefits

Simulating future societies in Isobenefit Cities: Social isobenefit scenarios(16 page pdf, Luca D’Acci, Futures Journal, Sep. 25, 2013)

Today we review a paper about a model of various urban forms that are evaluated according to the benefits that each confers to its citizens. The forms include a traditional Central Business District form where the population and economy is highest in the centre and radiates outward to a second form where there are several sub centres or sub cities of activity to a third form where there is a ring city surrounding .The isolines of benefits (isobenefits) are based on formulae which estimate such things as benefits to pedestrians and cyclists (pedestrian and bike paths for example) and specific examples from cities around the world are tested. Results indicate the types of cities that could be designed as well as what might be done to existing cities to improve benefits. The optimum one seems to be a multi-centre city.

isobenefits

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