Tag Archives | Sustainability

Colonialism and The American Diet

Jill Richardson writes on Alternet:

It is hardly news that the United States faces epidemic health problems linked to poor diets. Nearly two out of every five Americans are obese. But according to a press release from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, “The West is now exporting diabetes and heart disease to developing countries, along with the processed foods that line the shelves of global supermarkets. By 2030, more than 5 million people will die each year before the age of 60 from non-communicable diseases linked to diets.”

De Schutter, whose work usually focuses on ending hunger, just published a new report saying, “The right to food cannot be reduced to a right not to starve. It is an inclusive right to an adequate diet providing all the nutritional elements an individual requires to live a healthy and active life, and the means to access them.” In other words, the right to a healthful diet must be included in the human right to food.

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Sifting the Rubble

Wang Shu

Wang Shu. Photo: Elekhh (CC)

A building, that uses historical rubble a main building component, is causing rumblings in the architecture community. What implications does this have on building a sustainable future? Via Inhabitat:

The 2012 Pritzker Prize was just announced this morning, and the winner is Wang Shu — the first Chinese architect to receive the honor. Wang Shu runs Amateur Architecture Studio with his wife Lu Wenyu out of Hangzhou and is also the head of the Architecture Department of the China Academy of Art.

Responsible for a number of large cultural and social projects in his native country, Wang Shu has become known for work that is “deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.” Some of Wang Shu’s most well known projects include the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University, the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, the Ningbo History Museum, phase 1 and 2 of the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art, and the Vertical Courtyard Apartments.

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Farm and School

Denver Green SchoolAre schoolyard farms the best way to counteract the increasingly industrial food provided by school lunches? Via Denver's ABC affiliate:
DENVER — Just eight months ago, a one-acre plot at the Denver Green School was an unused athletic field, but now that land has come to life with food-bearing vegetation. "We have harvested over 3,000 pounds of produce from this ground. Lots of salad greens and root vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers," said Megan Caley, the programs and outreach coordinator for Sprout City Farms. Each week during harvest season, the farm produces 150 pounds of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables that end up in the school's cafeteria. "Kids are eating healthier," said Frank Coyne, lead partner at the Denver Green School. "They are excited to eat the tomatoes on the salad bar, they are excited to eat the cucumbers."
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Living in Little Boxes

Little HouseFor years, it has been reported that standard homesizes (with the US being the glaring exception) are shrinking. How small is too small? And what is the relationship between liveable space, architecture, community, and sustainability? In this article from the Independent, RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) “slams” the (non) architectural standards of suburban house building.

Architects have criticised the “shameful shoe-box homes” being built in Britain today, saying many are too small for family life. Research by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) found the floor area of the average new three-bedroom home in the UK is 88 sq m, some 8 sq m short of the recommended space.

One-bedroom properties, at an average of 46 sq m, are 4 sq m smaller than the recommended size, the Case For Space study found. This is the equivalent of a single bed, a bedside table and a dressing table with a stool, the report said.

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5,000 Years of Sustainability

Rice FieldWhile we currently venerate technology as the panacea for our catastrophic environmental ills, what if we could contextually approach and learn from sustainable civilizations that thrived in the distant reaches of North America’s past? Jude Isabella writes on Archeology:

A re-evaluation of evidence along North America’s western coast shows how its earliest inhabitants managed the sea’s resources stone walls serve as evidence that early peoples cultivated the intertidal zones to build clam gardens and fish traps

When the tide is out, the table is set. —Tlingit proverb

The tide is going out at Gibsons Beach, in the Strait of Georgia on Canada’s west coast. When the tide is low, it’s easy to spot rock walls in the intertidal zone, the area of shore land that’s exposed during low tide and hidden when the tide is in. A person can look at this beach for years and never understand that apparently random scatterings of piled rocks were actually carefully constructed to catch food from the sea.

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Solar Plant Pollutes River in China … Riots Ensue

Solar PanelWhat does sustainability truly mean in an industrial world? Villagers in Zhejiang Province are wondering the same thing since the production of solar cells and batteries at a factory in the area has effectively poisoned their river and their children … Via the BBC:

Hundreds of villagers in eastern China have held three days of protests at a solar panel plant over pollution fears. Around 500 people started gathering at Zhejiang Jinko Solar company in Haining city, Zhejiang province, on Thursday. Some of protesters stormed the factory, overturning several company cars and destroying offices, officials said. Residents in the nearby village of Hongxiao said they became concerned after the deaths of a large number of river fish.

One 64-year-old villager told the Associated Press that the factory — located close to a school and kindergarten – discharges waste into the river and spews dense smoke out of a dozen chimneys.

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Is The Internet Polluting The Planet?

indexIs your constant craving for coneing clips hastening the destruction of the world? People tend to think of internet usage as "virtual" or "magic" but, it isn't so. YouTube viewing alone pumps thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day. Computer servers add to worldwide carbon emissions at the same rate as the aviation industry, and Facebook and Apple are powered largely by coal. In fact, I better stop typing right now. Via Hungry Beast:
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Sacred Economics

SacredEconomicsThis is the introduction to Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition, by Charles Eisenstein, courtesy of Evolver Editions/North Atlantic Books and Reality Sandwich.

The purpose of this book is to make money and human economy as sacred as everything else in the universe.

Today we associate money with the profane, and for good reason. If anything is sacred in this world, it is surely not money. Money seems to be the enemy of our better instincts, as is clear every time the thought “I can’t afford to” blocks an impulse toward kindness or generosity. Money seems to be the enemy of beauty, as the disparaging term “a sellout” demonstrates. Money seems to be the enemy of every worthy social and political reform, as corporate power steers legislation toward the aggrandizement of its own profits. Money seems to be destroying the earth, as we pillage the oceans, the forests, the soil, and every species to feed a greed that knows no end.… Read the rest

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Earth Could be ‘Unrecognizable’ by 2050

Earth As Seen From Apollo 17Via Discovery News:
A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday. The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council. To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). "By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.
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