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pretty green tower building, new york

Hearst Tower, New York. Image credit: http://img.lightreading.com
Hearst Tower, New York. Image credit: lightreading.com

“Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan has achieved official "green" status--the first office building in New York City to be recognized by the USGBC for high environmental performance both on its exterior (core and shell) and interior fit-out and systems". Key features include Low-E glass in the building envelope, light sensors to control the amount of artificial light on each floor based on the amount of natural light available, activity level sensors that control both lights and computers, high efficiency HVAC systems, and use of outside makeup air for cooling and ventilation for 75 percent of the year, plus, use of Energy Star appliances.”

“[...] the building required less steel because of the crossbraced design. The design lets in more light as well. A sort of green feature and a practical one is they offset the core of the building to the side facing the black colored tower next to it so that people wouldn't have an obstructed view.” [Tim Russell]

building the Hearst Tower, showing the diagonal steel braces, each spanning several floors
Constructing the Hearst Tower, showing the diagonal steel braces, each spanning several floors.
Image credit:
Hearst.com. (The link goes to a gallery of about 100 images.)

Page of figures and data on this building.

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interesting, spectacular, innovative, radical, past and modern architectural structures - index

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prudence, pascal’s wager and global warming

“In modern game theory Pascalís Wager is called the maximin criterion. When confronted with a choice of actions in conditions of uncertainty, the correct choice is the course whose worst outcome is least harmful. That puts the burden of proof on to the global-warming sceptics. Unless youíre really, really certain that weíre all going to be fine, then the only prudent course is to act now to reduce emissions. The costs of understating the threat are much higher than the costs of overstating it.”

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is the amazon starting to die?

“When Dr Dan Nepstead started the experiment in 2002 - by covering a chunk of rainforest the size of a football pitch with plastic panels to see how it would cope without rain - he surrounded it with sophisticated sensors, expecting to record only minor changes.

“The trees managed the first year of drought without difficulty. In the second year, they sunk their roots deeper to find moisture, but survived. But in year three, they started dying. Beginning with the tallest the trees started to come crashing down, exposing the forest floor to the drying sun.

“By the end of the year the trees had released more than two-thirds of the carbon dioxide they have stored during their lives, helping to act as a break on global warming. Instead they began accelerating the climate change.

“The Amazon now appears to be entering its second successive year of drought, raising the possibility it could start dying next year. The immense forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon, enough in itself to increase the rate of global warming by 50 per cent.

“Nepstead expects "mega-fires" rapidly to sweep across the drying jungle. With the trees gone, the soil will bake in the sun and the rainforest could become desert.

“Deborah Clark from the University of Missouri, one of the world's top forest ecologists, says research shows "the lock has broken" on the Amazon ecosystem and the Amazon is "headed in a terrible direction".”

related material
Global warming - briefing document

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step by step the realities of overpopulation and fossil fuels impinge

Article recommended.

“At the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting this week, Professor Eric Wolff described how the British Antarctic Survey has drilled two miles down to measure the concentration of gases in the atmosphere over a staggering 800,000 years. That is way before Man even thought of doodling on a cave wall. CO2 and methane have tracked temperature remarkably closely over that whole period: there has been no occasion in all that time when CO2 has increased without temperature following. These gases are now at levels that are unprecedented, and are rising at a spectacular, record rate. These ice cores show beyond doubt that humankind has changed the composition of the atmosphere.

“This is great news. If the warming we have seen so far was "natural", we would be in a real bind. If it is man-made, we have a chance to avert it. Despite all the bleating, we already have all the technologies we need to combat climate change: wind power, solar power, tidal power, carbon sequestration, nuclear power, microgeneration and energy efficiency (which alone could reduce rich world emissions by between 40 and 80 per cent, depending on whom you believe).”

Increasingly this writer, Camilla Cavendish, shows promise. She is remarkably rational, thoughtful and steady in what I have read so far. Here is a considerable sample of her articles.

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large oil corp steps towards charging for externalised costs

“Under the voluntary scheme, drivers can go to a website http://www.targetneutral.com/ to calculate the cost of the annual C02 reduction needed to make their car C02 neutral. An average car, driven 10,000 miles a year, generates about four tonnes of C02. To neutralise that amount, BP says, will cost around £20 a year. It sounds like a piffling price to do your bit to save the planet. BP says a huge amount of C02 could be neutralised if all 40 million drivers in the UK signed up to targetneutral.

“But how does all that C02 get neutralised? The money motorists pay towards targetneutral, which will be matched by BP when motorists register and use their Nectar card at a BP forecourt, will go towards five renewable energy projects in the developing world. These projects are designed to "offset" or "cancel" out a driver's emissions.”

With the UK government looking at carbon rationing, this is another step to charging consumers for the vast externalised costs of fossil fuels.

“Points would be deducted every time energy was bought. Anyone exceeding their quota would have to pay a higher price for any more energy bought during the year while those below quota could cash in surplus allowances.

“Those who felt the system involved too much hassle could simply cash in the allowances and pay higher energy prices year-round as a tax. And every year the allowances would be cut, to squeeze energy use lower and lower.”

“Starkey said uncertainties included whether some people -- those living in cold northern regions or people with large families -- might demand extra allowances.

“And it was unclear whether people would be happy to check their accounts online or if the government would take on the huge extra cost of mailing tens of millions of statements.— [Quoted from planetark.org]

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Replacing fossil fuels, the scale of the problem

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on the battle that never stops - gm cotton in china

“The five million Chinese GM cotton farmers appear to have created a natural vacuum by growing cotton genetically engineered to kill the bollworm larvae which used to destroy their plants. With the bollworm larvae gone, other pests called mirids have taken over, forcing farmers to eradicate them with lashings of expensive insecticide that have all but destroyed the original economic benefits.

“When GM cotton was first grown in China in the late 1990s, it produced miraculous results that were hailed as proof that GM technology could benefit poor farmers. They saw great gains - in the first three years of planting the crop called Bt cotton - they cut pesticide use by more than 70%.

“But seven years down the line, mirids are spoiling the party to such an extent that the farmers have to spray their crops up to 20 times per growing season to control them.”

“Longer term alternatives include identifying and introducing natural predators of the mirids, or equipping GM cotton with new toxins that kill them as well.”

And then there will be cane toads sayeth the lord!

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british government discusses a tradable carbon cap on household energy use

To those that envisage major administrative and other problems with this scheme, great bureaucracy is not necessary - just issue a book of ration coupons or carbon money, or the carbon ration could enforced by a tax on prime industrial users.

Some people appear to be confusing the idea of the carbon ration or tax with an energy ration or tax, but of course renewable and nuclear energy would not attract much of a carbon tax.

There may indeed be privacy issues, but that is a problem the citizens will have to adjust to, or learn to solve.

  1. As I keep pointing out, we are headed for a transparent society. I do not see much that anyone can do about it.
  2. It is not essential have to register for rations, those who wish to opt out could buy what they wish from the open market trading.
  3. Tragedy of the commons issues are not a private matter.

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legislating for a global commonsópoverty, carbon and fossil fuel rationing

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the rapidly growing clash between food, biofuels and water

“Biodiesel consumed about 45 percent of Europe's rapeseed oil output last year, leaving some major food producers scrambling for material to cover their needs.”

“We [Shell] think morally it is inappropriate because what we are doing here is using food and turning it into fuel. If you look at Africa, there are still countries that have a lack of food, people are starving, and because we are more wealthy we use food and turn it into fuel. This is not what we would like to see. But sometimes economics force you to do it.
[Quoted from planetark.org]

Then comes land depletion, if farming methods are not top line.

“[...] Up to one billion people are today eating food using underground water that is not being replaced”

“By 2025 economists say water scarcity will be cutting global food production by 350 million tonnes a year. That is rather more than the US grain harvest [...] ”
From When the Rivers Run Dry, p346

marker at abelard.org

“China Xiwang Sugar Holdings said it has obtained government approval for US corn imports, which signals that Beijing will no longer stand in the way of the grain's trade.

“A manager from Xiwang, one of China's top corn sweetener producers, said Wednesday it received the certificate for imports of 50,000 tonnes of genetically modified corn.

“The company, based in the northern province of Shandong, placed the order for a full boat-load of corn in May, marking the country's first major corn imports in years.”

“They saw more potential trade as domestic corn prices have been high, particularly in Shandong, due to rising demand from the corn processing industry.

China, one of the world's top corn exporters only a few years ago, is expected to become a net importer of the grain possibly as early as next year.
[Quoted from thestandard.com.hk]

When the rivers run dry by Fred Pearce

When the Rivers Run Dry by Fred Pearce,
2006, Eden Books,Transworld, 1903919576

£12.53 [amazon.co.uk] {advert} / amazon.com

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