Vertical Forests for Cleaner Air

A group of architects are proposing building a skyscraper that would house a small forest to act as an air cleaner near places of pollution production – a vertical forest.

‘It will also cool the air during the hot summer months via the temperature-lowering properties of hundreds of trees.

‘We thought of the CO2 Scraper as a way to place trees in areas where they would ordinarily be difficult or impossible to plant such as near a factory, major road or perhaps even in a densely populated urban area.

‘The idea here was to imagine a structure with relatively small footprint in terms of the amount of ground it covers.’

Scientist and sustainability specialist Joep Meijer, founder of theRightenvironment, has praised the ‘outstanding’ design.

He said: ‘The CO2 Scraper is an outstanding example of the kind of ideas we need to look at now.

This is Reality

This is Reality is project that is designed to counter the coal industry’s claim that clean coal is, well clean. Awareness projects like this are badly needed when there are multimillion dollar campaigns trying to convince people that burning a finite resource is good for the environment.

Today, coal power plants emit carbon dioxide (CO2), the pollutant causing the climate crisis. A third of the America’s carbon pollution now comes from about 600 coal-fired power plants. And of the more than 70 proposed new coal power plants, barely a handful have plans to capture and store their CO2 emissions. If these dirty plants are allowed to be built, this will mean an additional 200 million tons of global warming pollution will be emitted in America each year. Until coal power plants no longer release CO2 to the atmosphere, coal will remain a major contributor to the climate crisis.

Scientists indicate that we can avoid the worst climate impacts if we turn CO2 emissions around in the next few years. The Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, in 2007, said, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” For coal to maintain a role in America’s energy mix, the industry must act quickly to stop emitting CO2.

Learning Disability Treatment Breakthrough

Some Toronto-based researchers have found a way to treat learning disabilities using drugs. This seems kinda weird to me, but let’s see what happens!

To find out how important the protein was to learning, the researchers decided to breed mice that were missing the gene that makes the Neto1 protein and then evaluate the cognitive abilities of those mice.

They found that the altered mice had no obvious physical or behavioural problems but did have trouble learning new skills compared to normal mice.

The mice missing Neto1 failed a simple test in which they were made to swim through a water maze and find a hidden safety platform that would get them out of the water. Normal mice swimming through the maze were able to find the platform faster with each try, but the mice missing Neto1 got lost every time and did not seem to remember how to find the platform.

Save the Economy by Removing Parking

Studies done in the last couple years disprove the myth that businesses need parking for customers or they’ll go out of business. The Spacing Wire has a post that looks at the studies and concludes that removing parking is good for business and making room for pedestrians or bike lanes improve livability.

A 2006 study of a Manhattan street (PDF) showed that, in fact, local businesses would benefit if parking was removed so that sidewalks could be widened. Last summer, on behalf of the Clean Air Partnership, Fred Sztabinski, then coordinator of the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) (and sometime Spacing contributor), embarked on a similar exercise for a street in Toronto. The report, Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business (PDF), has just been released. It’s a study of Bloor Street in the Annex (Huron to Palmerston), and it shows that removing parking for either bike lanes or a widened sidewalk would actually benefit local businesses in that area. The study surveyed both merchants and people walking along various parts of this stretch of Bloor during the month of July 2008.

The first part of the study shows that the majority of owners or managers of local businesses estimate that only a minority of their customers drive to their location, and also that they believe it would not harm, and might even benefit, their business if parking were removed to make space for either bikes or pedestrians.

The second part of the survey shows that the merchants are correct in their estimation of how their customers get to their store: 46% walk, 32% take transit, 12% cycle, and only 10% drive. Not surprisingly, walkers were also the most frequent visitors to the area, followed by cyclists, transit users, and finally drivers. Walkers also spent considerably more in the area than other types of customers. In other words, pedestrians were by far the best customers, followed by cyclists. Drivers, meanwhile, are the least frequent visitors and are low spenders.

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