Tag Archives: sustainable communities

Big Coal

Comment: there’s hope yet on how to hinder big coal.

coaldrag2Many national governments, including Australia, persist in allowing Big Coal to influence its environmental and energy policies. However there is hope as a world-wide trend continues as corporations start to divest themselves of investments in the Big Coal companies.

Continue reading Big Coal

The Norway Alternative

Comment: Australia threw away the mining wealth.

 

Tour Of Statoil ASA's Oseberg Gas Drilling Platform

 

In Australia the government has completely messed up any opportunity to gain long-term economic sustainability for the country. We have just witnessed the current government do a dirty deal with another party led by a mining millionaire to do away with an opportunity for a just tax on the miners.

Continue reading The Norway Alternative

Going Backwards Fast

Commentary: on how the country is being trashed

 

GREEN ARMY INITIATIVE LAUNCHThe Conversation has just completed an informative series on the range of devastating changes being made to this country.

The writers cover most topics including:  health, the environment, education, migration, science and the economy.  It is definitely worth the time to make your way through them.

Continue reading Going Backwards Fast

Urban Bikeway Design Guide

Notice: Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Second Edition

National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

 

cover1The Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Second Edition, is based on the experience of the best cycling cities in the world. Completely re-designed with an accessible, four-color layout, this second edition continues to build upon the fast-changing state of the practice at the local level. The designs in this book were developed by cities for cities, since unique urban streets require innovative solutions.

To create the Guide, the authors conducted an extensive worldwide literature search from design guidelines and real-life experience.

Continue reading Urban Bikeway Design Guide

New Garden Cities

Competition winner: for new Garden Cities

 

It was announced in the UK that the winner of a competition has proposed that to deal with population growth that new cities should be built nearby established ones. These would be garden cities connected back to the older city by public transport.

 

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Continue reading New Garden Cities

Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Review: Landscape

Guilfoyle’s Volcano at Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Andrew Laidlaw, landscape architect

 

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This is a job well done. I saw an article about this and was determined to have a look. Now if only they had been sensible and given an address.

Continue reading Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Greener London

How making London greener could make Londoners happier

an interactive map

From The Guardian: London – with all its tarmac, brick and glass – is actually 38.4% open space and ranks as the world’s third greenest major city. Now Daniel Raven-Ellison wants to go further … and make Greater London a national park. His campaign and online petition aims to have the city treated in the same way as parks like the Peak District and the Brecon Beacons, to conserve its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.

click here for the article.

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Paul Costigan, 20 August

 

 

LA for Bikes

Los Angeles a city for cyclists?

LA wasn’t always a driver’s town. In the 1920s, it had the longest urban rail network in the world, and innovative infrastructure was built for cyclists as well. Despite this, Angelenos fell in love with the car early on and moved for more highway projects, making it the road-based city it is today.

click here for the story.

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Paul Costigan, 19 August 2014

Big Coal & The Reef

The Rabbott Government and Big Coal and The Reef

reef1The Guardian has published a terrifying article of just how far down this country is heading.  As Tim Flannery says: The Great Barrier Reef is sick. Almost half of its coral is already dead and a massive new coal mine, which was given final approval this week, will only cause further damage. This is not just an issue for Australia, it affects us all.

click here for his article

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Paul Costigan, 3 August 2014

Mia Lehrer & the L.A. River

The story behind a landscape architect and the Los Angeles River

 

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The landscape architect, Mia Lehrer, has spent nearly two decades helping transform a mammoth drainage canal into a true urban amenity.

click here for the story

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Pul Costigan

Climate Dangers

Climate Change dangers that Australia is ignoring

955199c9-5763-407f-a581-a8acd28f04d3-460x460When you read the statistics on the range of dangerous changes already occurring to the planet because of climate changes, you do wonder about the stupid and dangerous decisions being made by the present Australian Government.

Suzanne Goldenberg has written that because of the changes to climate the world is nearly five times as dangerous and disaster prone as it was in the 1970s. Her reference is a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation.

Click here for that article.

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Paul Costigan, 26 July 2014

Supermarkets

The duopoly of supermarkets in Australia

 

8061542291243433879There is a very hard-hitting article in the August 2014 issue of The Monthly on how the two large supermarkets have been allowed to rip anyone and everyone off. Even more depressing is that it points to how we, as consumers,  are continuing to allow this to happen.

The major point raised by the article is how this dominance of the two of these supermarkets has reduced the food security in this country.

Continue reading Supermarkets

Al Gore

Al Gore writes on optimism in dealing with Climate Change

In an article in Rolling Stone, Al Gore provides some very welcome optimism on how we may yet deal with the coming climate change events.

The article is very very long. It takes quite a commitment to allow the time to get through it all.

It is worth it! Happy reading. Click here.

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Paul Costigan, 20 July 2014

Trees

Comment on the Art of Trees

 

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I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it. With our local trees comes other biodiversity and heaps of bird life. Researchers have just worked this out. Click here for a story on this.

Continue reading Trees

Landscape acoustic barrier

Landscape Art as acoustic barrier

SetWidth1200-foto-02Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the country, and aircraft noise is a problem in the surrounding cities. Low-frequency ground noise created at take-off is especially difficult to combat because standard noise barriers are largely ineffective against it. Schiphol is implementing acoustical landscaping in the form of large ridges that dampen longer wavelengths.

click here for the story

Urban Trees

Comment and UK Research

 

 

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I have the benefit of living in a suburb with plenty of tree cover. In fact the view outside onto the streets is almost as if the street is a parkland. The concept that any suburb should have an abundance of trees and shrubs and associated bio-diversity is simply so logical that one wonders why would anyone think otherwise.

Continue reading Urban Trees

Vertical Garden

Review: Landscape Design  and Vertical Garden

A-Mazing Vertical Garden, Da Nang City, Vietnam

 

IMG_40651I came across this garden when looking through the short listed projects for the World Architecture Awards to be announced in Singapore in early October 2014. At first I was very impressed with the technical qualities and that it was a form of the old fashioned maze, but done with plants in a more sustainable manner.

I later searched for more on this and realised that it was very much a decorative maze in a resort in Vietnam. The resort being a re-use of a former French colonial resort. Below I have given a report on this garden from World Landscape Architecture.

Continue reading Vertical Garden

Value Landscape

How can we work with the landscape to make liveable places?

How the liveability of our cities means designers and planners working with the landscape rather than against it.

A video, about six and half minutes, introducing the concept of valuing landscape and the link to liveable settlements.

Continue reading Value Landscape

Sustainable Sites

Announcing new Tools

The Sustainable Sites Initiative 2014

 

Blue Hole Swimming Area

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) is a program based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment and can be planned, designed, developed, and maintained to protect and enhance the benefits we derive from healthy functioning landscapes. Sustainable landscapes create ecologically resilient communities better able to withstand and recover from episodic floods, droughts, wildfires, and other catastrophic events. They benefit the environment, property owners, and local and regional communities and economies.

Continue reading Sustainable Sites

Solar Prime Minister?

Political Comment

The Prime Minister and Solar and how good behaviour starts in your own backyard.

solar-lodge-590x319

It well established that how people behave in their own back yards normally reflects their attitude to the world outside their household. Our Prime Minister is having his house, The Lodge, refurbished. This was well overdue.

Continue reading Solar Prime Minister?

GoodBye Big Coal

Report Just in

Utilities wake up to threat of mass grid defection

 

rabbott01A report on that the wake up call may at last have been heard by some of the energy suppliers.

As the reality hits home, some energy companies are realising that coal based energy may not be as a sustainable business model as the proposed by Australia’s foolish Prime Minister.

Click here for the story.

Melbourne’s Urban Forest

City Council policy to address Climate Change

Always good to check if any Australian City Councils are taking actions and setting targets despite the dangerous attitude of our Federal Governments.

Melbourne City Council has an Urban Forest Strategy to increase markedly its tree coverage across the city (remembering this is the inner city council – who knows what the rest are doing!).

Continue reading Melbourne’s Urban Forest

Urban Agriculture

From ASLA The Dirt: Is Urban Agriculture Utopian?

 

(part of the series on the 2014 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference

“Urban agriculture is a phenomenon today,” said Farham Karim, an architectural historian at the University of Kansas, at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in New Orleans. Upwards of 70 million people are now involved around the globe — on Farmville, at least, the popular game app, he laughed. But, in reality, there are many tens of millions farming on the ground, too. With all the growing interest, Karim played devil’s advocate, wondering: is urban agriculture scalable? And who is going to be doing all this urban farming? And if we know it’s not a cost-effective solution for solving the world’s food problems, why the persistent interest?

click here for the full article.

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Paul Costigan, 17 June 2014

Sydney Urbanity & Architecture

Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One

 

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There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..

Continue reading Sydney Urbanity & Architecture

Canberra Urbanity & Development

Recent Canberra Government development announcements

 

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In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity & Development

climate and insurance

from the Guardian

article about climate impacts on property

 

Consumer and climate experts say extreme weather could raise insurance premiums and lower property values. This is something still being ignored as too many people have allowed the federal government misinformation campaigns to distract them from addressing these devastating issues. click here

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Paul Costigan 5 June 2014

Rural Health

Rural Health and the Budget 2014-15
making it work beyond the Big End of Town

 

logoMuch of the response to the Federal Budget has been on the extent to which the proposed cuts and savings would affect those who are already vulnerable.

In health, the main focus has been on a potential co-payment for people who are bulk-billed. Access to primary care is critical – and it should not be forgotten that some people have no access to general practitioners at all. Underlying the whole Budget strategy are questions about whether the challenges in Australia’s fiscal circumstance have been exaggerated and, if so, for what purpose and to what effect. click here for more

those carbon offsets

How those carbon offsets can do more environmental harm than good

 

Yet again there’s a nice piece on The Conversation about how we need to be far more serious about carbon. It also points towards the use of Green-Wash by corporations to allow them to continue with business as usual. The author, Sharon Beder, says  “Carbon offsets are a greenwashing mechanism that enables individuals to buy themselves green credentials without actually changing their consumption habits, and nations to avoid the more difficult structural and regulatory change necessary to prevent further global warming.” I could not agree more and could name some very dubious lobby groups that are assisting in the processes of green washing by corporations and developers.

click here for the link to the article

Sharon Beder has written some informative pieces previously and has her own website – click here – definitely worth a look

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Paul Costigan, 29 May 2014

Urban Agriculture

 Urban Agriculture – one part of the solution

from The Guardian, Designing cities and factories with urban agriculture in mind. The Netherlands offers inspiration for designers looking to create environments that harvest water, energy and nutrients.

Urban farms are transforming inner city spaces – rooftops, infrastructure, streetscapes, building skin – into generative ecologies that support the lives of people, and pollinators too. They are bringing into cities, and into plain view, the natural systems that sustain urban life

click here

Sustainable Communities South Australia

A web blog recommended

 

Sustainable Communities South Australia Inc.
Building resilient communities to achieve a one planet lifestyle

 

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click on the image for more. and please let us know of others.

2014 budget & rural people

Opinion Piece: Measuring the fairness of the 2014 Federal Budget for rural people 

 

default_slider_0An online report following the 2014 Commonwealth budget announcements and how they relate to people in rural and remote areas of Australia.

The piece was posted by the National Rural Health Alliance.

Definitely worth the read. It is not good news. Click here.

Featured Landscape Architect

Recommendation

Looking for a Landscape Architect in South Australia?

We highly recommend calling the great people at outerspace landscape architects

Click on the logo below for more. (or here)

outerspaceand I am sure that they could negotiate on any job elsewhere in Australia

Featured Landscape Architect

Recommendation

Looking for a Landscape Architect in Canberra?

We highly recommend a call to Harris Hobbs Landscapes.

Click on the logo below for more. (or here)

HHL GREEN

 

 

and I am sure that they could negotiate on a job outside Canberra.

 

 

Car Parking

Using Parking Meters in Climate Change

 

parkingmadridThere are all sorts of stories in circulation in Canberra as a result of the decision to introduce paid parking for all areas within the Parliamentary Triangle. This has a big impact on those who work in the area. Some public servants are devising clever tricks to continue to have free parking.

This will also mean that visitors will now have to pay to visit the national institutions and have limited time to visit. This could be a marked change in how visitors regard the national cultural institutions. I know as a local, it will mean less visits to these institutions.

Continue reading Car Parking

UK versus Australia Solar

UK will install 3 times more solar than Australia in 2014

_72762812_solar1Given that Australia is being presently governed by a load of Rabbotts, Bogans and Rodents, it comes as no surprise that during this year that the UK will install 3 times more solar than Australia.

It has to believe that the United Kingdom with its cloudy, wet and drizzly weather is already forecast to become the largest market for solar PV in Europe in 2014.

So all that sunshine goes to waste while Rabbott and co continue to subsidize and prop up their Big Coal corporate friends.

Continue reading UK versus Australia Solar

Eliminating Coal-Fired Generation

Creating Cleaner Air in Ontario

Province Has Eliminated Coal-Fired Generation

 

From the Ministry of Energy

Ontario is now the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.

The Thunder Bay Generating Station, Ontario’s last remaining coal-fired facility, has burned its last supply of coal.

Operated by Ontario Power Generation, Thunder Bay Generating Station was the oldest coal-fired station in the province. The plant is scheduled to be converted to burn advanced biomass, a renewable fuel source.

Continue reading Eliminating Coal-Fired Generation

Value the Landscape

 Using inappropriate systems to place a value on landscape and things of value.

 

There’s an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot titled:

Can you put a price on the beauty of the natural world?
Those who reduce nature to a column of figures play to an agenda that ignores its inherent value – and seeks to destroy it

To which one response online was: Great article George.

Continue reading Value the Landscape

Big Coal Stumbles

Big Coal Chief has brawn but no brains

 

The same crowd that managed to assist in bringing down the Rudd Labor government when the government proposed a tax on the riches being ripped out of the country, have just introduced an online promotion to bring together those in favour of Big Coal and its future.

Sadly for Big Coal have entered the democratic world of online chats and twitter. The full story is told in the Guardian – click here. Enjoy and chuckle at the expense of the not so bright chiefs of Big Coal.

solar power

Rooftop solar and Australian politics

There’s evidence appearing about the take up of solar may in fact continue to expand and become fully part of the country’s source of electricity. This is amazing given the on-going vicious and well-funded campaigns being carried by Big Coal and their allies in the present Australian Government.

The next big trick is to get solar to be a key issue at the coming elections, both state and federal. With many of the subsidies now being removed, those who have solar are starting to notice how they are being duded by the Big Coal electricity companies who do not want solar to succeed.

There’s a very good article online titled: Rooftop solar may be ‘sleeping giant’ of Australian politics – click here. It is worth a read to gain an update on this debate and some facts on the current rip offs underway.

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Paul Costigan 14 April 2014

 

Climate inAction

About climate action – or climate inaction

A piece from the New Yorker that again points out that the time for action on climate change is now but that inaction has actually become the norm. So many politicians have come to office on the back of statements on climate change, yet here we are in 2014 with no significant actions being undertaken to realistically deal with climate change.

The really sad part is, as pointed out in the article, the longer we allow our national governments to sit on their hands, then the harder it will be in the coming years as the problems will have worsened and become far more difficult to deal with. It seems we are all waiting for someone else to solve this problem.

Eventually of course, someone or at least something  will. That will be the planet that rejects the dangerous race called humans.

Here’s the link to the New Yorker article – click here

 

 

Food Security

Australia needs to listen to the warnings about its food security.

From the Independent Australia Blog comes the warning about food security.

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a grim picture for the future of Australia’s food security.

Food security is an issue that must be carefully and comprehensively addressed by our government as a matter of critical forward planning. And it must be given priority over trade “arrangements” that may have attractions now, but which will limit the government’s policy options when current circumstances change, which all indicators point to being soon.

Continue reading Food Security

Sustainable Cities

World Urban Forum Highlights Opportunities for Sustainable Cities

In a blog on the Huffington Post, the authors point out the obvious. That is, obvious to those who are looking and care as opposed to too many who are presently making decisions about cities and sustainability.

The evidence is there.  Design well and all the benefits can follow. Design badly, which is too common, and all the inequities and unsustainable practices come to the fore. As the authors say:

Well-designed cities generate jobs, innovation, and economic growth for all. But when designed poorly — with too much sprawl, waste, and inefficiency — they can divide cities and exacerbate pollution, inequality, and political instability. Moreover, poor design has long-term consequences given that urban infrastructure often lasts decades. Continue reading Sustainable Cities

Media and Climate Confusion

The role of the Media in confusion over climate change action

As reported many times, the current mainstream media has become part of the problem in encouraging the world to act urgently on climate change.

In Australia it has become painfully obvious that media, such as our own ABC, has gone far too far in providing what they term as ‘balance’. The voices of the scientists and the weight of their reports and the mountains of evidence is ‘balanced’ by the time given to complete skeptics and their lack of scientific evidence.

Continue reading Media and Climate Confusion

Main street & human-scale

City main street networks show a drastic shift away from historic patterns of human-scale design

Have you ever wondered why some places seem built for automobiles as opposed to humans?

In a recent study, J. Alexander Maxwell and fellow researchers from the University of Strathclyde’s Urban Design Studies Unit find evidence that before the rise of the automobile, cities developed on a walkable “human” scale, with main streets that rarely exceeded 400 meters (a little more than 437 yards).

Along with Charles R. Wolfe, they argue that this uniformity reveals an underlying pattern to pedestrian city settings, which should be considered in contemporary urban design and policies.

click here for the full article

LA in 2033

From The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.

Continue reading LA in 2033

wetlands

 Comment: Wetlands and Climate Change Adaptation

Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.

This wetland was part of a series of several wetlands installed into the inner northern suburbs of Canberra. Our hope is that one day the same local government will take on the challenge of enlarging the nearby wetlands to include much of the concrete drains through the inner northern suburbs. This would then be then be a linear park and wetland that would wind its way through several suburbs and increase the amount of green infrastructure. It would also be a wonderful walkway and increase the chances of locals getting out and walking.

Continue reading wetlands

Equity & Parks

Urbanity: Parks for everyone

There’s many a piece of research and publication about the links between access to parks and people’s health and wellbeing. Any urban area that includes ample public green spaces will always be sought after and the benefits are evident in the community attitudes towards their residential areas. Parks enhance the sense of community.

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Most Australian urban areas usually have had parks provided as part of the urban infrastructure. However in too many cases these parks and open spaces end up not being maintained well and sadly many also become places of neglect.

Continue reading Equity & Parks

Public Transport Facts

Public Transportation Use is Growing — the Facts

 

Two reports on the rise in the use of public transport in the USA.

First – set out below is a March 2014 media statement from the On March 10, 2014 by the American Public Transportation Association. or – check out the original on the association’s own web site – click here.

The second is an article in the New York Times, March 10 2014: Use of Public Transit in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since 1956, Advocates Reportclick here

Continue reading Public Transport Facts

UK Farrell Review

Report: The Built Environment

Farrell2 In January 2013 Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned Sir Terry Farrell to undertake a national review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.

Terry Farrell undertook this Review independently with his team at Farrells and advised by a panel of 11 industry leaders with a breadth of experience that covers education, outreach, urbanism, architecture, property and philosophy.

 

Continue reading UK Farrell Review

IPCC report

Report from the IPCC

 

rabbitt01Dear Sir Rabbott: The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, calls for both mitigation and adaptation. No further information is necessary – it is all in the reports – please read them and bring Australia’s national action on climate change into the 20th (and then maybe the 21st) century.

The Guardian – click here – or – The UK Independent – click here

Rural Health & Climate

Climate Change and Rural Australia

There’s a pdf document on the Rural Health Alliance’s’ web site that addresses the issue that people most exposed to the economic and health effects of climate change are the world’s poor. In Australia, those who live in rural and remote areas are more exposed than those in major cities.

The final report of the Garnaut Review suggests that a wide range of agricultural industries are vulnerable or highly vulnerable, including those related to irrigation, grain and livestock. Australian fisheries are also likely to be affected, as is tourism, for example as a result of the effects on the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s snowfields. Forestry may benefit from increased CO2 concentrations, but will also suffer from reduced rainfall and increased risk from bushfire. Infrastructure damage resulting from flood, bushfire and rising sea levels, and global tensions (eg related to environmental refugees) may require the diversion of funds from other areas such as health, education and welfare.

Click here – to download the pdf.

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Paul Costigan, 28 March 2014

global system unravel

industrial civilisation headed for irreversible collapse

global system unravel

The evidence is out there. “A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.”

Yet governments continue to play down the message in order for short term political gain. The article is definitely worth a read, not to become alarmed, but to become more informed of the need to rethink the way we do business. click here.

Rural Health

Unravelling why geography is Australia’s biggest silent killer

The Conversation article online outlines the differences in health prospects for those living in regional areas compared to those living in larger cities.  Apart from the well-known deficiencies in access to health services, people in rural and remote areas also have less access to health-promoting infrastructure, such as targeted smoking cessation activities, organised physical activities and the information contained in health promotion campaigns.

the full The Conversation article is here.

Green Roofs

Green Roofs and Urban Design

I remain skeptical about all the hype around green roofs and green walls. This is not to say that when delivered comprehensively, that green roofs can be very effective in reducing temperatures of the buildings. It is more that so many of the current crop of green roofs and green walls are token add-ons.

Despite the hype by the building companies and their contractors about how wonderful particular green walls and roofs are, many are superficial and deliver very limited benefit, if any. When done properly, a green roof can be a contributor to the green infrastructure of urban areas.

Continue reading Green Roofs

Watching the World Change

PBS deals with the Big Coal myths

PBS dives headfirst into the myth of clean coal and pretty much tears it apart using something we don’t often see these days when it come US energy issues: facts. And the most complete take-down of “clean coal” in the segment came from the CEO of the second largest coal electricity company in the US.

see the report on the program (not available online to Australia) through the web site – Coal is Dirty – click here.

 

Climate Terminology

Climate Change Terminology

It’s all in the words we use

Variability in terms is a product of government climate

About a decade ago, when some of us were attempting to get the issues of Climate Change to be the basis for the debates on sustainable settlements, it was curious to see the distractions being manufactured in order to avoid taking these debates as comprehensively as they needed to be.

The most ardent opposition to a simple us of language actually came from particular academics who should have been the ones leading the charge to have clear and precise arguments. I suspect that despite their so called concerned views, the overriding pressure was that they were in fact part of large corporations, called universities, that had yet to step up and tackle the then conservative government’s point of views on climate change.

Continue reading Climate Terminology

Andrew Leigh

Report: Andrew Leigh’s Speech

Does Size Matter? An Economic Perspective on the Population Debate

max-P1020481The world is not a totally happy place right now. We are facing all sorts unbelievable challenges. One of the basic requirement is to obtain some real facts and evidence upon which to base decisions. This may seem logical.

However the level of misinformation coming through via the mainstream media, that has become the basis of political decision-making, is totally stunning.

 

Continue reading Andrew Leigh

Climate Council Report

Climate Council Report: The Angry Summer

Continuing hot on the heels of the ‘Angry Summer’ of 2012/2013, Australians again endured record breaking extreme events this summer.

The Climate Council’s report provides a summary of extreme weather conditions in the 2013/2014 summer, illuminating a continuing trend of hotter summers and more weather extremes in Australia.

click here for more on the 2014 Angry Summer Report.

Happy City

Reviews: Book

Happy City, Charles Montgomery, 2013

From the blurb online:

“A brilliant, entertaining and vital book. Montgomery deftly leads us from our misplaced focus on money, cars and stuff to consider what makes us truly happy. Then everything changes – the way we live, work and play in humanity’s major habitat, the city.” – David Suzuki

After decades of unchecked sprawl, more people than ever are moving back to the city. Dense urban living has been prescribed as a panacea for the environmental and resource crises of our time. But is it better or worse for our happiness? Are subways, sidewalks and tower dwelling an improvement on the car-dependence of sprawl?

for more on the book – click here – or for a full review – see the article in Metropolis Online – click here

Urban Sustainable Development Goal

Why We Need an Urban Sustainable Development Goal

To quote from the article on The Nature of Cities” : The arguments for an urban Sustainable Development Goal are many. Urbanization has the ability to transform the social and economic fabric of nations and cities are responsible for the bulk of production and consumption worldwide, and are the primary engines of economic growth and development. Roughly three-quarters of global economic activity is urban, and as the urban population grows, so will the urban share of global GDP and investments.

The right to development for low-income and middle-income countries can only be realized through sustainable urbanization that addresses the needs of both rural and urban areas. It must also be recognized that cities are home to extreme deprivation and environmental degradation with one billion people living in slums. In many countries the number of slum dwellers has increased significantly in recent years, and urban inequality is deepening.  see the full article here

 

Empires of Food

Book Review

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

empiresoffoodEvan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas.  Random House, 2010

As if there was not enough information available on how the world is not paying attention to all the warning signs, this book was recommended to me to make me aware of the dire situation coming our way in relation to the supply of adequate food for coming generations.

This is all linked in with the issues of climate change, population growth and the way we have allowed our food supplies to be controlled by particular market and political forces. This book is a must read for all.

 

Continue reading Empires of Food

Suburbia

Book Review: The Charms of Suburbia

This is a link to a review on the online Magazine: Metropolis.

Paradise-PlannedI was attracted to this as I believe in suburbia but get very annoyed (or is that angry) about the way current planning and development agencies have gone about ruining concept of suburbia through their lack of care for developing sustainable settlements.

This new book is a comprehensive history that rescues the garden suburb from the periphery of urban design, and repositions it at the heart of the debate on cities.

 

Continue reading Suburbia

Reasons for Optimism

The State of the Debate on Climate Change

Reasons for Optimism

Old Colony_tcm3-34346I have to admit that having done a lot of reading and been involved in many discussions on climate change and the lack of concerted actions, it was novel to read an article titled: The State of the Debate on Climate Change: Reasons for Optimism.

I do however share the view that any optimism for change is based not on the behaviour and actions of the national or state governments, but on the policies and actions as undertaken by some of the local governments.

Continue reading Reasons for Optimism

Sydney and Climate Change

Sydney and Climate Change

The Lord Mayor speaks on Climate Change

cloverNot many cities in Australia have Lord Mayors who dare to speak out on issues. Sydney has been blessed to have a Lord Mayor who has a national and international profile. The Sydney City Council controls just a small part of the greater metropolitan area. However this has not stopped this local government from being a national leader in dealing with climate change. Within Australia, the Commonwealth and most state governments are well behind in dealing with the urgent climate issues. Leadership in this country, like many others, is coming from local government. On this Sydney is way in front thanks to Clover Moore and her team. This they have achieved despite the reactionary forces from her own state government. There’s a good piece in the Guardian from Clover – click here.

The State of the Debate on Climate Change

The State of the Debate on Climate Change:

Transformational Change Needed

At a conference organized by the National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE) in Washington, D.C., Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy at Central European University, said “spreading today’s best building practices could hold energy costs steady,” but the big question is “how to get the public and private sectors to work together to make transformational change.”

The session then outlined some more problems limiting action on climate change, and the transformational solutions needed to solve them. Interestingly one of the problems first identified was to do with higher education. Another was the decision making processes. There were others such as water and energy wisdom. See the report on this session on The Dirt (ASLA) – click here

Soils

Book Review (re-posted): Soils

What Has Nature Ever Done for Us

There is book review on the Guardian site. This is timely as Australia government goes through all sorts of actions to set the clock back on environmental issues. I dread what chance anyone would have right now of confronting this government over the long-term treatment of our soils, our biodiversity; in fact anything at all to do with nature.

Continue reading Soils

climate dark art

climate dark art

The desperate need for frank, honest, timely and evidence based advice.

 

max-P1020481Remember how things were during the more optimistic days of living in Australia, when climate change was not a dirty word or two?I am referring to the times of the Kevin Rudd and then Julie Gillard governments.

Back then the country was known internationally as taking a whole raft of initiatives to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

I have to admit that I found the public sector involved in these areas to be under all sorts of pressures. The then government’s priorities kept changing as they worked through what they could and couldn’t do, given the nature of the controls other parties had over the government’s policies.

Continue reading climate dark art

Wind Farm

Wind Farms

The truth is out there!

rabbott01Things are looking desperate in Australia. The present Rabbott government continues to ignore science and the benefits of policy decisions based on scientific evidence.

The latest example of stupidity is that the Prime Minister has announced a review of the health problems linked to wind farms.

Maybe he, or at least his infamous chief of staff, should learn to read rather than just respond to lobby groups. The media share a lot of responsibility on this issue. Despite the case being closed by scientific evidence that there are no health problems, the media will still take any nut job and allow them equal time in any debate. This keeps the false debates alive.This keeps the case for ‘there remains doubts’ alive.

Continue reading Wind Farm

places for play

Places for Play

Referring to a posting on The Nature of Cities: Involving Children in the Design of Park Renovations to Create Green Places for Play with Urban Nature

Locally there have been several wonderful initiatives that have delivered wetlands to local neighbourhoods. These developments were very much welcomed and have become destination for people taking walks.

The new wetlands were primarily established to become catchments for run off water that had previously been channeled into 1960s concrete drains straight down through the suburbs into the lake. Water is now being partially diverted along the way to provide storage as well as being piped off site to other large water tanks for other irrigation purposes.

Continue reading places for play

Get Real

Get Real about Climate Change

There are may time as a citizen, that one despairs that any government is really going to Get Real about climate change. This is more frustrating because as we all know that they have at their finger tips all the advice and scientific information necessary for intelligent and timely decisions. Yet for so many governments, it is business as usual.

According to an article just published, the State of Victorian has an agency that is prepared to offer frank advice about the crucial steps we all need to take as a nation. It has listed the top challenges for Australia. In their simplest form, they are:

  1. Getting off coal
  2. Getting on to renewables
  3. Ending fossil fuel subsidies
  4. Stop facilitating the emissions of others
  5. Get ready

Continue reading Get Real

Climate Change Flooding

Climate Change Flooding in the UK

While the predictions forecast an increase in temperatures and a drier climate for places such as most of Australia, especially in the South East, the same predictions forecast much wetter conditions in countries in the north, such as the UK.

While the former predictions are starting to be fulfilled, the latter for the UK is now being questioned. That is, not whether they are true, but whether climate change has already affected the weather in the UK.

With the massive flooding now underway and more expected, these questions are being asked and answered by the scientists within their bureau of meteorology.

Continue reading Climate Change Flooding

Cities and Biodiversity

Cities and Biodiversity

There’s a short presentation online that introduces the benefits and urgency for all countries to do more for Cities and Biodiversity. The presenters have some key messages on their web site.

Key Messages for Cities and Biodiversity Continue reading Cities and Biodiversity

urban ecology

urban ecology

re-posted article: What are the social justice implications of urban ecology, and how can we make sure that “green cities” are not synonymous with “gentrified” or “exclusive” cities?

Here is Australia there is a lot of talk amongst city planners and such that there is a need for green cities, sustainable cities and lots more simplistic terms. It is very hard indeed to find amongst the rhetoric any realistic commitment to urban ecology.

The need to base all urban developments against a measure based around preserving and enhancing the soil, the ecology and the green infrastructure remains an optimistic wish for those interested in the survival of the planet. Current approaches to urban design and planning are still very much ‘business as usual’ with market forces, meaning the quick dollar, as the drivers and measures applied.

Continue reading urban ecology

Canberra and climate change

The city of Canberra and climate change

Re-posted from the Canberra Times

There are times here in the City of Canberra when one despairs at the actions of the planning authority in its spin about how it goes about the planning, design and redevelopment of Canberra’s suburbs. In short: It is shocking!

The authority uses all sorts of green wash in its spin. The planners within the authority still favour the so called market forces to translate their lose planning requirements to deliver what the local developers consider as adequate for residents. This means an extremely artificial nod to the urgent climate change adaptation issues that are impacting on our urban environments. Say no more.

Continue reading Canberra and climate change

Edible City

Advocacy: Edible City

A presentation: Turn your city to being an edible city

Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy to deal with the forecasted food shortages as climate change kicks in. The presentation demonstrates how to turn a conventional community into an edible city. Learn how to transform unproductive spaces into agricultural landscapes that help fight obesity and reduce food deserts. Make sure you note the address and send it onto anyone in decision making roles.

Continue reading Edible City

Revitalizing Cities with Parks

Advocacy: Sustainable Landscapes – Revitalizing Cities with Parks

Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation should assist anyone with their advocacy for Revitalizing Cities with Parks. In these times of reactionary governments and tight budgets, it is important to maintain efforts to introduce the simple idea to create more parks.

Continue reading Revitalizing Cities with Parks

Leadership in Design

Leadership in design of the built environment

watson-House-P1030003I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.

As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.

Continue reading Leadership in Design

Urban Forests

Advocacy: Urban Forests

A presentation: Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air

Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy for more resource allocation for urban forests. Governments need to deal with climate change in the urban areas, and dealing with urban forests is a good place to concentrate some resources. The urban forest issues are linked to the population’s health and wellbeing and avoiding heat island effects.

Continue reading Urban Forests

Leadership

Leadership

Online Presentation: The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.

There are a host of professions that could be showing much greater leadership. Many have learnt to be spin doctors and have filled pages with their commitments and their policies. All this is very nice and very polite.

Continue reading Leadership

climarte

climarte

climarte: Notice of public program

I am writing to invite you to attend the first public program being produced by CLIMARTE, a new independent not for profit body that I am running together with Bronwyn Johnson (ex Director of the Melbourne Art Fair).

I hope to see you there. Kind regards, Guy Abrahams

Continue reading climarte

the city and cyclists

re-posted from Gehl Architects:

The City and Cyclists

Their guest blogger reports:

Brussels – a city of cars, Amsterdam – a city of cyclists

By Devon Paige Willis
Devon is doing a Masters program called 4Cities, an Erasmus Mundus Masters that takes students from Brussels to Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid to study cities. Gehl Architects met her when she was interning at the Montréal Urban Ecology Center in 2013.

Devon

Continue reading the city and cyclists

climate change and cold weather

Research: climate change and cold weather

Public perception of cold weather events as evidence for and against climate change

A paper has been posted online by Stuart Bryce Capstick and Nicholas Frank Pidgeon. The Abstract reads:

It has been argued that public doubts about climate change have been exacerbated by cold weather events seen as a form of disconfirming evidence for anticipated ‘warming’. Although a link between perceptions of climate and weather is well-established, such assumptions have not been empirically tested. Here we show, using nationally representative data, that directly following a period of severe cold weather in the UK, three times as many people saw these events as pointing towards the reality of climate change, than as disconfirming it.

Continue reading climate change and cold weather

horticulture

Is horticulture a withering field?

re-posted from Philly.com

By Virginia A. Smith, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: January 07, 2014 Coming from image-conscious professionals who prefer to gush about the beauty of flowers and the joys of growing vegetables, the words were downright shocking: “Horticulture is under siege.” They jumped off a three-page letter penned by a half-dozen of the country’s most prominent plant people sent in December to 800 schools and universities, government agencies, industry associations, and growers of everything from almonds to onions. Clearly, horticulture – once a priority, if not an obsession, for generations of Americans – is in trouble. The letter warns that if something isn’t done soon to boost the ranks of plant scientists, breeders, students, and others in the field, horticulture could become a lost art and a forgotten science. see the full article on Philly.com: click here

 

 

Big Coal and the truth

Big Coal and the truth

Couple of articles about Big Coal and its attitude to the truth:

When Barack Obama first ran for president, being green was so popular that oil companies like Chevron were boasting about their commitment to renewable energy, and his Republican opponent, John McCain, supported action on global warming.

As Mr. Obama seeks re-election, that world is a distant memory. Some of the mightiest players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat him, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels. And the president’s former allies in promoting wind and solar power and caps on greenhouse gases? They are disenchanted and sitting on their wallets.

more from the original NY Times – hopefully the link is working


Continue reading Big Coal and the truth

Urban Transportation Change Maker

Re-posted from The Dirt

Rina Cutler: Urban Transportation Change Maker

When I retire I will write a book called, ‘you can’t make this sh*t up,” said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities, Philadelphia, at a National Complete Streets Coalition dinner in Washington, D.C. In a review of her experience serving seven mayors and governors, Cutler revealed the sometimes painful truths about pushing for positive change in urban transportation.

Continue reading Urban Transportation Change Maker

Big Road Projects

Big road projects don’t really save time or boost productivity?

from the Conversation, 24 Jan 2014

With the Rabbott government expressing support for large infrastructure projects in the shape of more big roads, there is the absence of any sense of what some these projects do to local communities. Let’s not also consider how roads encourage more traffic, that is more cars, that is more use of petrol, that is less use of any form of public transport and other more sustainable transport – such as walking.

The New South Wales and Victorian governments have recently released business cases for their pet motorway projects, WestConnex in Sydney and East-West Link in Melbourne. But will these big road projects, costing a combined A$20 billion (with A$3 billion being donated by the federal government), really generate the economic benefits promised? Read the full piece from The Conversation – click here

Australia’s climate plan

Australia’s climate plan: are you serious?

rabbott01We live in strange times. The former Australian Government had developed an international reputation for being in the business of looking after its people, of caring for the environment and for careful financial management.

The new Rabbott government is establishing itself as far more interested in the short term aim of providing for those who assisted it into power. This means handing decisions on social, financial and environmental issues back to the business lobby groups. This is the new version of government taking a back seat and allowing business to drive the agenda. In many cases, this means the business lobby groups are having government wind back programs, especially on any issues dealing with the environment. There’s a good piece in The Conversation on the attitude taken by this government to addressing climate change.

“Reverting to fossil fuels, phasing out of renewable energy incentives and increasing deforestation levels to accommodate expanding agriculture explains most of this. Which begs the question of Australia’s government: are you serious?” read the full article here.

 

LIFE and Soil protection

New publication: LIFE and Soil protection

January 2014

With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this brand-new LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection.

The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFE’s contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination. The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE program’s contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channeled and have an even greater impact in future. Download LIFE and Soil protection

it is a good document – but warning – it is 10 MB – may take a moment to download Continue reading LIFE and Soil protection

Big Coal

Big Coal: It’s time to celebrate (or not) Australia Day

meanwhile people in North West NSW, continue to battle Big Coal.

From the Guardian (Friday 24 January): This Australia day, us underdogs will fight Big Coal to save Maules Creek. In the battle that is gripping my community, my fifth generation farming family and I are siding with traditional owners and environmentalists against miners to save the land we love; an article by Phil Laird.

This Australia Day, many of us will gather to reflect on and celebrate what’s great about our democracy. It’s our good fortune as a nation to be blessed with abundant natural resources that are our common wealth. Our fertile land, clean air and water underpin our country’s agricultural heritage, which has fed and clothed us. Australia’s native wildlife is unique, and the bush where Australians walk, fish, hunt and camp is habitat for the animals that are emblems of the country itself. Traditional owners of the country have the longest continuing culture in the world, and a connection to the bush that goes back tens of thousands of years. click here for the Guardian Article