Urban insects are more resilient in extreme weather – Phys.Org


Urban insects are more resilient in extreme weather
According to the Rutgers-Camden researcher, the study supports the hypothesis that organisms living in high-stress urban medians possess adaptions to disturbance, making them more resilient to the effects of extreme weather events than organisms living

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Square Roots Raises $5.4 Million To Grow Its Urban Farming Incubator

Square Roots is establishing itself as a leading light in urban agriculture. The Brooklyn-based startup has just raised $ 5.4 million in seed funding that will be used to empower food entrepreneurs and increase urban farming across the

Square Roots Raises $ 5.4 Million To Grow Its Urban Farming Incubator was originally published on CleanTechnica.

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Masdar City Raising The Bar For Sustainable Urban Development


Originally published on Green Building Elements. By Dawn Killough Masdar City, near Abu Dhabi, has set its sights on being the most sustainable city on the planet, and it is well on the way to meeting that goal. Development started in 2008 and is expected to continue for at least the next five years, with [&hellip

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Shifting 10% Of Urban Trips To Cycling Could Save $24 Trillion By 2050


One key component in the struggle to keep greenhouse gas emissions down is low-carbon transportation, and while there are many high-tech solutions at play in the search for solutions, there is at least one that requires little more than a willingness to change our habits. Well, that and a set of wheels and some physical [&hellip

Shifting 10% Of Urban Trips To Cycling Could Save $ 24 Trillion By 2050 was originally published on CleanTechnica.

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First Full-Scale Urban Hyperloop System Coming To California — 5-Mile Stretch In Central Valley Planned

Whatever your opinion on the technology may be, it looks as though the proposed Hyperloop transportation system previously championed by Elon Musk is now actually going somewhere, based on a recent press statement. According to the statement, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has come to agreement with the developers of a “sustainable 21st century town” being developed

First Full-Scale Urban Hyperloop System Coming To California — 5-Mile Stretch In Central Valley Planned was originally published on CleanTechnica.

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Giant Gleaming Eggs Will Help Solve Urban Water, Energy And Waste Problems

Not too long ago, cities could be labeled strictly as takers: taking in food, water, energy and other resources, while dumping out mountains of garbage and oceans of polluted wastewater. But take a look at the gigantic egg-shaped structures that dominate New York City’s Newtown Creek wastewater treatment plant, and you’re looking at the key to a sustainable future.

The distinctive landmarks are digesters that convert municipal wastewater into biogas, and New York has just announced a new food waste recycling/wastewater project that will enable the digesters to accept food scraps from households, schools, and other institutions.

Newtown Creek will convert food scraps to biogas

Newtown Creek wastewater treatment plant (cropped) by Victoria Belanger.

Food Waste Recycling And Biogas

The new project is a giant step forward for New York, because it will enable the city to sell biogas from the digesters into the commercial natural gas market.

Although the city has long reclaimed some of the biogas to help power operations at Newtown Creek, the raw gas is unsuitable for domestic purposes because it is too “wet” and rich in carbon dioxide.

San Antonio, Texas actually lays claim to the first commercial wastewater biogas hookup in the US,  but if the Newtown Creek project is adopted at the city’s 13 other treatment plants, the New York project will be by far the largest.

In partnership with the company Waste Management and utility National Grid, the Newtown Creek project will convert food waste/wastewater biogas to a commercial-grade product that can be sold off site, with the goal of reclaiming 100 percent of biogas generated by the digesters.

The implications for sustainable urban development are enormous. One critical obstacle that cities face is the skyrocketing cost of wastewater treatment, so the prospect of offsetting costs by generating and reclaiming energy would enable more wastewater treatment projects to get off the ground more quickly.

It’s worth noting here that digesters house a process that is, literally, natural digestion. Digesters create an optimal environment for microbes to feed on the organic materials in wastewater. Along with generating gas, the microbial process provides an additional level of wastewater treatment without added chemicals and with a minimal use of energy.

The digestion process also yields an organic soil-like material that can be reclaimed as compost. In short, digesters provides a sustainability three-for-one: cleaner effluent, a soil enhancer to grow more biomass, and reusable biogas.

The reclamation of biogas from human waste also offers an intriguing window into next-generation urban sustainability, by harnessing the energy generated by huge numbers of people as they move through the processes of daily life.

Another good example of urban energy harvesting from “people power” is piezoelectricity, in which certain materials generate electricity when exposed to stress. This effect is being explored as a means of generating energy from crowded urban facilities such as train station platforms and even dance floors.

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Devices that harvest kinetic energy from the simple act of walking are also in development, and the principle of kinetic energy can also be applied to people-powered devices common in the urban environment such as turnstiles and revolving doors.

By extending the people power principle to the mechanics of urban life, you get energy harvesting opportunities from roadways as well elevators, commuter trains, and stop-and-go traffic in the form of regenerative braking.

Put it all together and you have the city of the future as a gigantic energy generating and resource reclamation dynamo.

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[This article has been submitted to Masdar Engage]

Giant Gleaming Eggs Will Help Solve Urban Water, Energy And Waste Problems was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 other subscribers: RSS | Facebook | Twitter.


Gizmo Uses Lung Cells To Sniff Out Health Hazards In Urban Air

Scientists are trying to figure out how chemicals in the air interact with each other to make people sick. So they’re building an instrument — a “lung in a box” — that goes way beyond the usual chemical monitors.

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Stop trying to save the planet, says ‘urban ranger’ Jenny Price

jenny price

Environmentalists and green marketers are always talking about “saving the planet.” Buy this car, this laundry detergent, or this light bulb and you will help save “the planet” or “nature” or “the environment.” Jenny Price, for one, wishes they’d stop.

Price is an activist, historian, and self-appointed Los Angeles Urban Ranger. When she’s not trying to inject a little humor into the generally unfunny world of environmental preaching with her satiric blog Green Me Up, JJ, she gives tours of the concretized L.A. River. She’d be happy to tell you why she loves the river, why it is every bit a part and parcel of “Nature,” and why she thinks that places like this have got to be at the core of the environmental movement.

When it comes to rhetoric about “saving the planet,” she has two main beefs: First, it encourages a “greener-than-thou” form of preachy consumerism that does not encourage real change nor help those most in need. Second, the rhetoric clings desperately to the historical notion that nature = pristine wilderness, obscuring the muddy, mixed up reality visible in places like her beloved L.A. River.

Price, who calls herself a “lapsed wilderness-loving environmentalist,” doesn’t think we should stop caring about how sustainable our consumption is, but she does believe that we need to inhabit nature instead of trying to save it. We need to think a lot more about people, she says, and about creating communities and providing food and jobs both sustainably and equitably. In short, we need to deal with the real world.

We sat down with Price recently to talk about her street-level view of environmentalism, and how we can create a new movement that transcends class and socioeconomic divides.

Download: jenny_price.mp3

This interview is part of the Generation Anthropocene project, in which Stanford students partake in an inter-generational dialogue with scholars about living in an age when humans have become a major force shaping our world.

Filed under: Cities, Climate & Energy
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Community thrives along a nearly forgotten slice of an urban river

bullfrogsThe Bullfrogs

On the equinox, March 20, a mostly forgotten sliver of a city neighborhood, where Goldeneyes and Coots fly low and fast along the river, the stalks of last season’s brush still steeped in snow, hummed with the celebration of the season’s unfolding.

They gathered along the water’s banks, cutting back old growth, repairing paths and railings fashioned from tree branches. And when the day’s labor was done, the local chorus, calling themselves the Bullfrogs, sang songs bidding farewell to winter with a rousing cheer to spring.

This is life among the Riverbank Neighbors, ages 0 to 90, so named because of their close proximity to the once-shunned North Branch of the Chicago River and the life they’ve built around it. In one breath, they are both a throwback and the future, recalling a time when community thrived, often centered around the local landscape. Their recapture of life writ small and meaningful makes the art of porch sitting seem regal, a wooden step, a throne.


After his mother slipped down the muddy bank during a walk in 1994, Pete Leki took to clearing the thicket of weeds and gnarly trees hiding the ribbon of water long shunned because of its stink and ugliness. It was as if a curtain lifted — Well what have we here! — and for the first time, this mix of working class and upwardly mobile neighbors saw light bounce off the river.

Leki, an elementary school science teacher whose house is a mere stone’s throw from the river, built steps from discarded concrete and flagstone, fashioning railings from old tree branches. He posted bills about brush clearing around the neighborhood. A few turned into many. Together they shored up the bank, terracing the new soil to prevent erosion. Naming themselves Riverbank Neighbors, they began celebrating a day’s work with potlucks along the bank. Afterward, the Bullfrogs would sing a cappella — a bit of The Talking Heads or Sly and the Family Stone.

chicago riverbank

Old brush was replaced with native plants and trees: hazelnut and American plum, blue fruited dogwood, button bush. Rows of gooseberry bushes now yield fruit for pies and jams. Beavers have returned to the water, along with turtles and fish. Fox and Black-crowned Night Herons, Red-breasted grosbeaks and Great Horned Owls. Each house, it seems, has a canoe or kayak.

Alan Ehrenhalt, author of The Lost City, a study on the decline of communities in the U.S., says Riverbank Neighbors reflects a shift. Nature — parks and forests, farms and gardens — historically have been at the core of community. Today’s environmental concerns, such as climate change and mass extinction, increase the desire for people to live in more tightly knit communities. The swelling use of social media, he adds, is actually drawing people closer to where they want to meet in person.

In Chicago, the Riverbank Neighbors have set up a system of borrow and barter as a means to stay out of the big box stores. And they’ve created a fun, illustrated guide to keep them off the marketer’s map, titled How to Disappear.

Fridays mark the Walk Around, when many Riverbank Neighbors open their homes at the dinner hour and are visited by other neighbors who make their way from house to house, eating a bit of the meal, often grown in their own gardens, at every stop. There’s a requirement, however, that before moving on to the next home, guests and hosts must throw on some music and dance. Leki says the most recent tunes included some hip-hop, a Cajun waltz, and bits of classic rock.

riverbank neighbors

On the first weekend day following an equinox, neighbors will gather and form a circle either outside or in someone’s house and a member from each family tells what has transpired in the lives over the closing season — deaths, joy, achievements, birth. They will also go over their precise river management goals for the seasons ahead, detailing work to be done throughout the year.

At Water’s Elementary School, where Leki teaches, the river’s history is taught in second and sixth grades and it includes study along its banks. Recently, the students met cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Rivers Festival, in which they celebrate great musical works centered around rivers. The kids sang a song they wrote about the river:

Long time ago, I think,
Indian kids could swim and drink
Now when kids come down to play,
A sign there says to stay away….

Rivers, the CSO stresses, are “forever intertwined with our past, present and future.”

The story of a day when Leki stood on the school roof, his students fanned out below, is now part of neighborhood history. With maps at his feet detailing the original location where the Chicago River once flowed, he directed students on the asphalt below. One by one, they lay colored circles on the blacktop, creating a colorful path where the ribbon of water used to be.

Word of the Riverbank Neighbors has spread. It’s common, Leki says, for people from outside of the hood to show up at a river event and say, “We’re not from the neighborhood, but we’d like to join in.” And they’re welcomed. People are hungry for community, Leki explains. “We no longer value the idea of ‘staying.’ Transiency has become the norm,” he says. “So we’re happy when they come to visit.”

Filed under: Cities, Living
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An Urban Tree Farm Grows In Detroit

How does a post-industrial city manage property that no longer generates tax revenue but still needs the grass cut? One entrepreneur says he has a solution: He’s buying up 1,500 empty city lots and planting thousands of trees. But where backers see a visionary proposal, critics see a land grab.

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