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Links for November 27th through December 2nd

by Mel Starrs on December 4, 2009

in News

These are my links for November 27th through December 2nd:

  • Smart Vendors: Biomass Supply Chain (UK) – Innovation & Cleantech – Possibly interesting (but very expensive – £150!) report on biomass (not sure how independent the authors are?): "The future evolution of the UK biomass supply chain will be significantly impacted by the opening of proposed major biomass power generation plants by firms like Drax Power and Prenergy in the next 3 years."
  • Debt storm threatens Dubai’s ambitions | Last Word | MEED – The most understandable commentary on Dubai which I have come across this week: "Dubai World has gone into a form of protective bankruptcy, similar to the US’ chapter 11 arrangements. It is a situation fraught with difficulties that could damage Dubai and the UAE. And the true scale of what Dubai owes is still unknown.
    But it is Dubai World’s creditors that face the biggest immediate problem. None can expect to receive any money until Dubai World’s assets and liabilities have been fully assessed, a judgement made about how big the gap between the two is and a schedule defined for when creditors will be paid, and how much. It is tough, particularly for those who are owed money today. But it is fair."
  • Regulation shapes revolution in Gulf sustainable buildings | Last Word | MEED – Interesting summary of green building accreditation throughout the Middle East. Will the Dubai ripples have an impact?:
    "Abu Dhabi’s new building code, regulations that make sustainability compulsory in all buildings and major retro-fits throughout the emirate, come into force on 1 January 2010."
  • First Net-Zero Neighborhood in the US Being Built in Boulder | Inhabitat – At last, some aesthetically pleasing (to my eye at least) net zero homes in my favourite US city, Boulder. Still enormous compared to the UK – 280m² for a townhouse is 3.5 times larger than the average new build UK home (76m² according to swing a cat):
    "Located on Broadway and Poplar Ave in Northern Boulder, the 1.5 acre neighborhood is conveniently located across from a market, shops and restaurants and with easy access via bus to the rest of the city. Six townhomes border Broadway, while six single-family homes sit back behind around a communal park. All the homes will be orientated to the south and photovoltaic systems can installed on the roof, which will completely provide the homes with all the energy they need."
  • Rebooting Britain: transform cities into lush jungles – Another article from Wired. This time, I have to disagree slightly – IMO London is currently the *only* UK city suitable for walking and public transport?: "Cities are at present vulnerable to the smallest interruptions in oil and gas supply. The first step in cutting this dependency should be a ban on private car ownership in metropolitan areas. Even a sprawling city like London can be comfortably navigated by walking, cycling, and use of public transport – powered, like delivery vehicles servicing businesses and homes, by batteries, biofuels, or hydrogen fuel cells. The great tidal flows of commuters could be reduced by rezoning commercial areas for residential use and introducing workshops and offices into residential areas, as in the human-scale, mixed-use street plans of medieval cities."
  • Rebooting Britain: tax people back into the cities – Really looking forward to PD Smith's new book. Here a flavour from Wired UK: "To create a low-carbon economy we need to become a nation of city dwellers. We tax cigarettes to reflect the harm they do to our health: we need to tax lifestyles that are damaging the health of the planet – and that means targeting people who choose to live in the countryside. We need a Rural Living Tax. Agricultural workers and others whose jobs require them to live outside cities would be exempt. The revenue raised could be used to build new, well-planned cities and to radically upgrade the infrastructure of existing cities."
  • When provided a choice, do people choose? – The Social Enterprise – Suw is spot on about adoptation of social media within companies (my experience on Yammer and Skype backs this up): "The successful implementation of social software doesn't stop with a technically successful roll-out. In fact, that's when the process begins because that's when your adoption strategy should kick in.
    Adoption is ultimately about behaviour change: persuading people that, for example,
    instead of sending an email to everyone with a new version of a document they are working on, they should put it on a wiki where it's easier to collaborate. This might seem like a small step – and for a few people it is – but for the majority that's a fundamental change to the way that they have learnt to work on documents."
  • Gordon Brown’s ‘eco town’ vision quietly shelved – Times Online – "Gordon Brown’s vision of establishing distinct “eco towns” across the country has been quietly shelved, it emerged today.
    The Government tried to keep up the project’s momentum by announcing a further 14 locations where “green developments” have local council backing.
    But it became clear the new sites will not be for the self standing towns of up to 15,000 homes originally envisaged by the Prime Minister.
    Most will be developments of no more than 5,000 homes on the edge of urban areas, which will be cheaper, easier to plan and attract much less local opposition than those first proposed by the Government."
  • Futerra Sustainability Communications – Conspiracies, Climate and Communication – More climategate fallout – Solitaire from Futerra defends her position (well said): "So in my own voice I want to get one thing straight; I hate climate change. I really really hate it and wish it wasn’t happening. Some of the climategate posts seem to imply we’re part of a ‘pro’ climate conspiracy. Considering how deeply and passionately I wish the darn thing wasn’t happening that accusation left me fish-mouthing in surprise. I don’t want climate change, I don’t like climate change, and I’m bloody annoyed that my best years will be spent trying to combat the darn thing.
    The horrible irony is how much I want the deniers to be right. If I had one wish it would be for climate change to be untrue, a blip, misread data, to slope off in embarrassment. If only."
    Now, can we stop being distracted by the semantics and arguments and get on with some design? Thank you.
  • CRED Guide | The Psychology of Climate Change Communication – Via Joanna Yarrow, a fascinating document on communicating climate change. Niggets include: "balance information that triggers an emotional response with more analytic information to leave a mark in more than one place in the brain."
  • A Climate Scientist Who Engages Skeptics – Dot Earth Blog – NYTimes.com – Read the whole article: "In grappling with this issue, I would argue that there are three strategies for dealing with skeptics…
    Most scientists retreat into the ivory tower. The CRU emails reflect elements of the circling of wagons strategy. For the past 3 years, I have been trying to figure out how to engage skeptics effectively in the context of #3, … Some of the things that I’ve tried in my quest to understand skeptics and more effectively counter misinformation include posting at skeptical blogs, such as climateaudit, and inviting prominent skeptics to give seminars at Georgia Tech. I have received significant heat from some colleagues for doing this (I’ve been told that I am legitimizing the skeptics and misleading my students), but I think we need to try things like this if we are to develop effective strategies for dealing with skeptics and if we are to teach students to think critically."
  • The Guardian – Poignant and depressing: "But I find I can't say this stuff anymore; not because I have stopped believing in climate change, but because I have stopped believing we can prevent it.
    Which is not to say that the End Times are here. One of the other problems with the climate change narrative is that it offers only two futures: Saving the World, or Apocalypse Now. We will probably get neither. More realistic is that we will experience what most previous human societies experienced – a painful decline after a period of over-expansion. We hear a lot about the year 2050: it is a handy date on which to hang our hopes of a "sustainable society", which has come to mean business as usual but without the carbon. It seems much more likely that by 2050 we will be mining our landfill sites for valuable metals and struggling to keep the electricity on, while we dream of the coral reefs that once flowered in the emptying oceans."