UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: You Got Your Garden Plot, Now What?

414 E 26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Here is the vacant property I adopted. Not too big, but a good amount of space to get started.

So I got my plot, pictured right, exactly one month after applying. Now what do I do? How do I go about turning a vacant city lot into a vegetable garden? Let’s start off with what I can’t do, and what I have to do.

According to the license agreement with the city, I can’t install “permanent landscaping,” such as an orchard or a tree farm. This is due to the fact that at …read more

The City Energy Project: Better Buildings, Better Cities

Chicago City Hall Green Roof

Earlier this year, 10 mayors of large American cities announced a partnership with the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) and the Institute for Market Transformation in the new City Energy Project. The goal of the project is to improve large public and private-sector building energy efficiency to reduce energy use, and thus decrease city pollution and save residents and businesses money. If the project succeeds, the savings could reach $1 billion nationwide, and the hope is that these cities will act as a model for communities across the nation and the world.

But what …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: So You Want to Garden in the City?

Urban blight turned into gardens (Photo credit: Bob Elderberry)

Almost one year ago, I moved from rural New Hampshire to urban, post-industrial Baltimore. I had lived in cities for most of my life, but always felt a visceral connection to the “great outdoors”. I also love to cook and am a big fan of anything DIY. This past summer I bought several herbs and vegetables for my apartment to cook with. Window space quickly disappeared, but my desire to grow did not. It became clear that I needed more space; I needed an urban garden.

But, how does one …read more

Composting in the City

I first learned about composting in 2009 while living in an intentional community in the upper level of a rehabbed church in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Seven of us shared one refrigerator, one common living area, and one small trash can, and one even smaller trash can. The second trash can was actually more like a canister—less than a foot high, roughly eight inches in circumference and was used for compost scraps.

There are multiple forms of composting, but the most common form for city dwellers is Backyard composting. You combine browns (fallen leaves or straw), greens (grass clippings and …read more

“Hedonistic Sustainability”: How to Have Fun While Being Green

Confronting Comfort with Bjarke Ingels (Photo credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab)

When people think of environmental, green or eco-building projects they often imagine stripped down, minimalist structures, with interiors that are found lacking in functionality and comfort. But sustainable design does not have to be about giving things up and offering less to the user. Bjarke Ingels, of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), does just the opposite, with something he calls “hedonistic sustainability”.

A few years ago, BIG won an international competition to design a power plant that would convert human waste into energy in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ingels knew that the …read more

Taking Design Underground: An Innovative Solution to Overcrowding

As we enter the New Year, our thoughts turn to the future – from making our personal resolutions, to pondering what 2014 will bring for us, our families, and our cities.

One exciting prospect for New York City is the Lowline, an initiative to build the first underground park in an abandoned trolley terminal in the city subway system.

Lowline Tech Demo (Photo credit: mlcastle)

In an overcrowded city like New York City, space is always at a premium. Architect James Ramsey has taken on this challenge by envisioning the Lowline as a counterpart to the popular Highline, an …read more

Going Green in 2014

English: Kermit the Frog (Photo credit: Markus)

With less than 2 weeks left in 2013, lots of people are making New Year’s Resolutions in hopes of becoming better human beings. If you’re committed to Going Green in 2014 (that has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?) here are a few resources to make sure you stay on the energy efficient bandwagon.

For starters, you should probably know the definition of going green. According to Shauna Osborne, “Going green is a popular term used to describe the process of changing one’s lifestyle for the safety and benefit of the …read more

Poverty and Environmentalism: An Impossible Combination?

Eco-friendly logo

In ‘The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels’, a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Bjorn Lomborg argues that environmental concerns must come second to alleviating poverty, especially in the developing world. There are certainly problems with Lomborg’s argument, chief among them his choice to underplay the importance of climate change. His views are controversial, and have been challenged by members of the scientific community. For example, he endorses fracking, ignoring the controversy surrounding its implementation in the USA (as noted in a recent UNspOILed blog post).

However, the main thrust of his argument is valid; those …read more

Fire Threatens Water?

As a national parks enthusiast, I try to visit a new park at least every couple years. We visited Yosemite for the first time two weeks ago – yes, right around the time the Rim Fire broke out. At the time, the only signs of the blaze came from a road closer to the park’s Northwest entrance.

PHOTO: Hiking at White Wolf, miles from threatened sequoias at Tuolumne Grove

As the week went on, murmurs throughout the park began to increase, as did the smoke billowing into the sky that was visible from some of the park’s more …read more