Nov 27, 15

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Vertical Farming: New Book Out

Dr. Dickson Despommier, a former professor at Columbia University and champion of vertical farming, has released a new book on The Vertical Farm Project. The book puts forth his argument about the future of urban agriculture through vertical farms. Worldchanging has covered the debate over vertical farms quite a bit (see the list at the end of this post for links), and the idea is certainly a controversial one. I've not yet read the book, but it would be interesting to know if Despommier...


Alex Steffen on Carbon Neutral Cities at Seattle Town Hall

In just a few weeks Alex Steffen will be returning to Seattle's Town Hall to give a talk on the "State of the Future," and present his new ideas about global sustainability and planetary futurism. In the coming week we will have more details about this event. In the meantime, we thought it would be worth re-posting Alex's two talks from last year's Town Hall engagement (see embedded videos below). Over the course of two nights Alex explored why the planetary crisis we now face demands a new...


Harnessing the Kinetic Energy of Braking: A New Pilot Project in Philadelphia

The transit authority in metropolitan Philadelphia is launching a pilot project under which the energy created by braking subway trains will be transferred to a large battery that can then either use the electricity to help power the transit system or sell the power to the region’s electricity grid. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which is installing the battery in one of its 38 transit substations, said the power generated by harnessing the kinetic energy of...


Roadmap 2050: Pathways to Achieving a Low-Carbon Economy in Europe

The European Climate Foundation's Roadmap 2050 project analyzes a series of ways in which Europe could achieve a zero carbon economy by 2050 and comes to some very positive conclusions about the feasibility of achieving that goal. Foremost, the project team asserts that a zero carbon energy sector is essential to the development of a zero carbon economy and that drastically reducing emissions and increasing renewable energy generation are more easily realizable than they are often considered...


Upcoming Events in Design and a Call for Reader Reports

There are three interesting conferences coming up in the design world this month (see below for details). If you are planning to go to any of these events (or even some others we haven't yet heard of), please consider submitting a "Reader Report." We'd love to get your 'inside scoop' and learn more about all of the cool, innovative projects and ideas likely to be presented at these conferences. Please email me at if you'd like to contribute a report! ASLA Annual...


Portugal Rocks Renewables: 45% Renewable Electricity by Year's End

For the past 5 years Portugal has been pushing a dramatic shift to renewable energy. Compared to the standard “20% renewables by 2020” targets that are often brought out at press conferences, its accomplishments are impressive: By the end of the year nearly 45% of its electricity will come from renewable sources. That's up from 17% five years ago. A wind farm at Barão de São João, south of Lisbon. Photo: Rupert Eden for The New York Times (via The New York Times) Elizabeth...


Scaling Up Solar: The Global Implications of a New Study that Says Solar Power Is Cost Competitive with Nuclear Power

Two US researchers have declared that solar electricity in their home state is now cheaper than next-generation nuclear power. Olivia Boyd looks at their study – and its global implications. by Olivia Boyd The sunshine of North Carolina, a state on America’s Atlantic seaboard, has long been a draw for tourists seeking a little southern warmth on the region’s beaches. But holiday companies are not the only ones trumpeting a good local deal. The price of the state’s solar-generated...


Leapfrogging into a Carbon-Light Future: The End of High-Carbon Prosperity and How Low-Income Nations Are Becoming Climate Resilient

Martin Wright asks whether low-income countries are on a fast track to low-carbon prosperity. The tropical sun is beating down. The wind is picking up. Yet the co-op farmers and their VIP visitor from the National Treasury are wreathed in smiles. Of course, their spirit of well-being owes something to the creature comforts of this airy, ultra-modern building, and to the friendly shade and shelter of the tree belt that surrounds it. But the real story is there for all to see on the LED wall...


Off the Grid and Rural Sustainable Prosperity

I am the child of hippies. I have spent a fair bit of time in country places with solar panels and generators, composting toilets (or outhouses), water tanks and hoses and gardens, self-built homes and hacked pick-up trucks and home-made furniture. I was even born into a group of people who have owned and cared for and tried to restore a big piece of land in rural Northern California since the early 1970s; it's a place I love deeply. I harbor the occasional fantasy about running off to that...


Ecomagination Challenge Announced: Submit Your Smart Grid Ideas

General Electric has announced a $200 million competition, called the Ecomagination Challenge, that is aimed at fostering entrepreneurial ideas to help speed up development of a "smart grid" in the United States -- a much-needed upgrade to the nation’s aging electric system. To register your idea or vote for your favorite idea, visit the competition website. For more information about this story, see the New York Times Green Blog entry "$200 Million for Smart Grid Ideas" by Tom Zeller...

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