Walkable Streets Solve Nearly Every Problem


Anybody who lives in a city knows that walkability of neighbourhoods is a key reason they live where they do. The attraction to mobility options, safe places, cultural and economic diversity is what keeps cities growing. Walkable spaces makes all of that happen and more!

What smoking was to the 20th century car driving is to the 21st, and people are starting to realize we need to kick the car addiction. Car culture kills people through increased obesity, awful urban planning, and pollution (not to mention collisions). Over at Fast Co. Exist they put together a list of 50 reasons why everyone should want more walkable streets.

“The benefits of walkability are all interconnected,” says James Francisco, an urban designer and planner at Arup, the global engineering firm that created the report. “Maybe you want your local business to be enhanced by more foot traffic. But by having that benefit, other benefits are integrated. Not only do you get the economic vitality, but you get the social benefits—so people are out and having conversations and connecting—and then you get the health benefits.” A single intervention can also lead to environmental and political benefits.

Here’s numbers 25 & 26 from the list:

25. It shrinks the cost of traffic congestion
The more people walk and the fewer people are stuck in traffic on roads, the more that benefits the economy. In the Bay Area, for example, businesses lose $2 billion a year because employees are stuck in gridlock.

26. It saves money on construction and maintenance
While building and maintaining roads is expensive—the U.S. needs an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to repair existing infrastructure—sidewalks are more affordable. Investing in sidewalks also brings health and air quality benefits worth twice as much as the cost of construction.

Read all 50.

Scotland Generated Enough Renewable Energy to Power Itself

This past weekend Scotland generated enough electricity from wind turbines to meet all its power demands. A day of strong winds and low demand combined to make this the first time Scotland has achieved this renewable milestone. For a compression, in 2012 Germany got 50% of it’s electricity from renewable sources, and today Germany gets almost all of its power from renewable sources on a regular basis. In a couple years Scotland could be 100% powered by renewables. The cost of solar and wind installations continues to fall so it’s likely more regions of the world will be able to follow Scotland’s lead.

“It should also be remembered that wind power is not the only renewable power source Scotland has at its disposal.

“If we continue to take steps to reduce our energy demand, invest in storage, and increase our use of renewables we can hopefully look forward to many days that are fully powered by nature.”

The figures showed that wind turbines in Scotland provided 39,545 megawatts per hour (MWh) of electricity to the National Grid for 24 hours on Sunday. Scotland’s total electricity consumption for that day was 37,202MWh. It is unclear whether demand at any single point in the day exceeded the amount supplied by the turbines.

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The Oppression of Lawns

The concept of a lawn at a residence has a short, but rich, history. Basically, the rich had large estates and to demonstrate their wealth they had large swaths of land not used for cultivation. Today there are still people trying to show off their wealth by owning large lands of uselessness. Things seem to be changing though as people eschew their lawns – some people replace it with something good and others just don’t care about the class association.

Remember that lawns are something you can make a choice about: you can live in a place without the unnecessary space, in hot climates you can try xeriscaping, you can make your landscape green, or you can look into a long list of lawn alternatives.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the traditional American lawn has come in for some scrutiny in recent years. Some, like Baker, are abandoning regular lawn maintenance out of environmental concerns — lawns require fertilizer to grow and gas to mow, and they take up space that could otherwise be used for animal habitat.

Other folks are ditching their lawns because of the amount of water they soak up — 9 billion gallons of it per dayaccording to the EPA. Think of the miracle that is the modern water supply — pristine water pumped hundreds of miles, passed through shiny state-of-the-art filtration systemstreated with miracle chemicals that keep our teeth from falling out of our heads, and available on-demand at the twist of a knob. And then consider that we intentionally dump billions of gallons of that water out on the ground!

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Britain’s Bag Ban Boasts Big Benefits

England has put a 5p charge on plastic bags last year and it’s already having a huge impact on the environment. The use of disposable bags has decreased 85% since the same time last year! Last year 7 billion bags had been handed out compared to just 500 million so far this year. The Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach cleanup noted that the number of plastic bags found on the shore was done by a third – and that’s after just one year.

The charge has also triggered donations of more than £29m from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to Defra. England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included. There are also exemptions for some goods, such as raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, seeds and flowers and live fish.

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The Aral Sea Rises Again

The Aral Sea was once one of the largest lakes in the world, but today all that remains is just two small lakes. Insanely bad environmental practices killed the lake which has had negative impacts on nature (obviously) and on humans who used to live on the shore. Since the sea was declared dead years ago there have been attempts to revive the once-great lake, and it turns out these efforts are working.

The Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth-largest inland body of water, but has been for ever altered by the Soviet era irrigation policies to reclaim the desert for cotton farming by rerouting the rivers the Amu Darya and Syr Darya.

Two separate lakes – the North and South Arals – are all that’s left, while most of its former seabed has been reclaimed by the sand.

But efforts to restore the lake have yielded some results recently. Since the completion of the Kokaral dam in 2005, financed by the World Bank, and the completion of hydropower stations, the winds of change have reached Tastubek.

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