Carbon. It’s Not Staying or Going Underground and It Needs To

Not really aligned with sustainable cities per se, but occasionally you read a blog that just clarifies complexity in a wonderfully concise way. Today I read a blog written by Howard J. Herzog, a Senior Research Engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his blog on The Conversation‘s website “Pumping CO2 underground can help fight climate change. Why is it stuck in second gear?” he explains not only the opportunity afforded by carbon capture and storage but also disentangles the complexity of financial and political interventions and drivers. But, quite simply, he does make the case for capturing ‘free’ CO2 and storing it underground to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causing climate change.

On the same day, by coincidence, George Monbiot writes in The Guardian The extraction of fossil fuels is a hard fact. The rules governments have developed to prevent their use are weak, inconsistent and negotiable. In other words, when coal, oil and gas are produced, they will be used. Continued production will overwhelm attempts to restrict consumption. Even if efforts to restrict consumption temporarily succeed, they are likely to be self-defeating. A reduction in demand when supply is unconstrained lowers the price, favouring carbon-intensive industry”. Keeping those fossil fuels that were formed over millions of years underground exactly there is the only way we’re going to stave off irreversible climate change. 

Both conclude that the true cost of ‘freeing’ those carbons is not being met. If there was a true polluter pays principle it would make the case for keeping the carbon in the ground in the first place and it would certainly help invest in technologies to capture carbon, store it and re-use it. We need to find ways of keeping what is in the ground there for longer and ways of putting what has already been liberated back there, safely out of the atmosphere whilst we figure out a low carbon solution to our needs.

 

Advertisements

What has open council data ever done for us? | CityMetric

What has open council data ever done for us? 

In a recently published piece, By Marc Ambasna-Jones, writes: It’s been nearly a year since Eric Pickles, the UK’s Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government issued a policy statement  requesting that local councils open up their data to the public.   

Since then, progress has been slow – but there has been progress. A number of cities (Manchester, Leeds, Cambridge, London) have published open data sets. But without a common access point, or a declaration of available data like theOpen Data Census in the US, it’s hard to know how many.

The big question now is: is transparency enough?

Boris Johnson thinks so. In October this year, London’s mayor, a keen advocate of municipal open data, launched London’s second data store. At the time, he said it would provide “a wealth of material that the world’s brightest minds will be able to use to develop new insight and apps that can be used to solve the big city problems”. The inference is that if you open the data the developers will come.

In truth, the expectation that Town Halls, many of which are facing huge funding cuts – particularly in those northern cities where the opportunity to exploit open data is so great, really haven’t embraced this fully. A few notable examples of cities that have taken this on have largely been backed by the belief that it will really stimulate local economies or they have been effectively subsidised by initiatives such as the Future Cities programme.

Now, as the need for innovation, efficiency and economic stimulus is at its most acute our Town Halls are, arguably, at their most cash-strapped. Overcoming this hurdle is key. It’s not enough to require, as Eric Pickles did, Town Halls to open up their data. Support, stimulus and subsidy to generate a significantly bigger pool of leaders in this field is needed. That way our municipalities, local enterprise partnerships and local authorities will be left behind.

 

The truth about smart cities: ‘In the end, they will destroy democracy’ | Cities | The Guardian

The truth about smart cities: ‘In the end, they will destroy democracy’ | Cities | The Guardian.

The smart city concept arguably dates back at least as far as the invention of automated traffic lights, which were first deployed in 1922 in Houston, Texas. Leo Hollis, author of Cities Are Good For You, says the one unarguably positive achievement of smart city-style thinking in modern times is the train indicator boards on the London Underground. But in the last decade, thanks to the rise of ubiquitous internet connectivity and the miniaturisation of electronics in such now-common devices as RFID tags, the concept seems to have crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot – a vision that originated, according toAdam Greenfield at LSE Cities, with giant technology companies such as IBM, Cisco and Software AG, all of whom hoped to profit from big municipal contracts.

India’s view of “smart” cities differs from West | Citiscope

India’s view of “smart” cities differs from West | Citiscope.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to construct 100 “smart cities” has fueled speculation about his intentions. After all, the term is synonymous with futuristic, tech-savvy innovators such as Singapore and Songdo. India’s Zee News reports, however, that Modi’s definition is far more simple. To him, a city is smart if it can provide essential utilities and avoid traffic gridlock.

Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu shed light on Modi’s vision during a recent speech at the US-India Smart Cities Conclave in New Delhi. He emphasized the importance of “uninterrupted” energy and water service, along with “proper sanitation” and “efficient management of solid waste.” Other priorities include better roads and high-speed Internet connectivity.

While India may design smart cities on its own terms, it’s relying heavily on the West for guidance, the article says. The United States will assist India with improvements to Visakhapatnam, Ajmer and Allahabad. Japan is doing the same for Varanasi while Singapore is lending its expertise to the planned new capital in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, Barcelona has pledged to help India design a smart city near Delhi.

– See more at: http://citiscope.org/citisignals/2014/indias-view-smart-cities-differs-west?utm_source=Citiscope&utm_campaign=62c521b8aa-Mailchimp_2014_12_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ce992dbfef-62c521b8aa-90711181#sthash.rbgRFQRb.dpuf

Develop locally sourced heat from Rivers

Regions given helping hand to develop locally sourced heat 
Earlier posts on this blog advocate the development of heat networks, so it is encouraging to see the UK Government’s support in developing a better understanding of the potential to capture heat from major rivers across England.

The Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life – CityLab

At this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, a group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders were asked to predict the future of livable, walkable cities. “If I could have one wish for people who live in cities,” says Conservational International’s M. Sanjayan, “it’s that we find ways to connect back to nature, to remind [people] that nature isn’t out there—outside the cities—but right in their homes where they live.” 

Read the full piece at: The Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life, According to Geoffrey West, M. Sanjayan, Jennifer Pahlka, and More – CityLab.

MOOCing all week with Sustainability, society and you

Over the past two weeks I have participated in The University of Nottingham’s Sustainability, Society and You MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and it’s been a greatly rewarding experience so far. Not only is the content perfect for stimulating big issues and identify how individuals can make a difference, the whole process of learning in this way is interesting in itself.

Over the past two weeks (and there are 6 weeks in total) we have covered topics as diverse, but inter-connected, as food, waste, energy, water and how, in the home, we can make conscious decisions to reduce our impact on the planet’s finite resources.

I have been participating this week whilst attending as many of The University of Nottingham’s programme as part of EU Sustainable Energy Week where the University was able to showcase the great work it’s doing, some of the exemplar buildings, including the Energy Technologies Building and the Creative Energy Homes. It was great to be part of that programme too – which complemented the MOOC as the week went by.

As a practitioner in this field, it’s great to have this resource available to help others engage, share experiences and learn. Our greatest challenge is to understand that to truly become sustainable we must first understand the implications of not being sustainable and what we can do to get there. If you haven’t signed up for the course, I recommend you do – and when you have – share it with your friends, colleagues and associates. It could form a fantastic resource in corporate learning programmes, school classrooms or undergraduate programmes. It’s been designed to be accessible, engaging and uses a range of different media to keep your engagement levels high.