More Trees Means Less Death

Forest

In the cold of winter you might not be thinking of the nice hot summer days as a negative thing. In the winter when temperatures get really low people suffer from hypothermia or worse, whereas in heat they can suffer from heat stroke or worse. When it comes to the heat there’s a nice and simple solution of planting trees.

In urban environments tree coverage can literally save lives by having a minium of 30% of urban space shaded by trees. Not only will the trees reduce heat in their immediate area they will provide cleaners air and a nicer place to be.

We found substantial variation in UHI death rates across European cities. In 2015, Gothenburg in Sweden recorded no premature UHI deaths, while urban heat was responsible for 32 premature deaths per 100,000 people in the Romanian city Cluj-Napoca.

The cities with the highest UHI death rates were in southern and eastern Europe. Most of these cities generally had low tree coverage and recorded the highest UHI effect.

Just 3.3% of Thessaloniki in Greece is covered by trees, resulting in urban temperatures 2.8? higher than the surrounding area. By contrast, 27% of Gothenburg is covered by trees, delivering an UHI effect of just 0.4?.

Overall, southern European cities will benefit most from increasing their tree cover. Our model estimates that Barcelona could reduce its UHI death rate by 60% by meeting the 30% tree coverage target.

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The Engineering of a Passive Off the Grid House

A sustainable home doesn’t need to be off the gird, but for some people interested in sustainability they reach a logical conclusion that off the gird makes sense. Of course, that means not being part of the electric grid and, for some, not even part of a public water system for potable water and sewage. How does one go about creating such a home? Check out the video above for what’s needed to create an efficient off the gird place to live.

Kristina is a structural engineer who designed and helped build this off-grid passive solar home with solar panels, solar hot water heaters, rainwater collection, a composting toilet, and a greywater garden. It’s a pretty impressive and functional Earthship inspired home and she lives here with her partner Matt in Colorado.

You can follow and find out more about Kristina and Matt’s off-grid lifestyle here:
https://www.youtube.com/@ClarityOffGrid
https://www.sustainablehomeresource.com/
https://www.sustainablehomeresource.c…

Let’s Startup Airships

Silicon Valley millionaires keep trying to solve problems that don’t exist like juice pressing and “smart” appliances. So when thinkers in the valley promote solutions to actual problems it’s a breath of fresh air. And in this case, it is air. Airships to be precise.

It’s well known that air travel is really bad for the planet and so is shipping. But what if we combine the best of those industries instead of the worst? Then we get airships. A sustainable future will include airships so it’s good to see monied individuals seriously considering airships.

The physics of airships are unbelievably seductive.

All aircraft are subject to four forces: thrust and drag in the direction of travel, and lift and gravity in the vertical direction. For an aircraft in steady flight, the vertical and horizontal forces are in balance.

For an airship, which gets lift from lifting gas (aerostatic lift) instead of from wings (aerodynamic lift), the amount of lift is proportional to the volume of lifting gas. The drag is proportional to some combination of cross-sectional area and wetted area—in any case, it increases with area.

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Change the Game, Change the Climate

As a game designer who creates games about the climate crisis and what we can do about it, this recent article in the Guardian warmed my heart. The article looks at how games can help people understand the climate crisis and that there’s still hope that we can do something about it. Games are fantastic for teaching people systems and what external factors impact those systems, which is a great way to capture the complexity of ecosystems.

Go play some climate friendly games!

“There is an increased public desire to engage with climate change in a tangible way,” said designer Matt Parker, who has also taught courses on game development. “Often people don’t want to confront climate change or feel powerless in the face of its complexity. But a lot of the joy of board games is in engaging complex systems with other people.”

In 2020, Wingspan, in which players develop biodiverse bird habitats, was named the best strategy game by the American Tabletop Awards. The game was reviewed by the science journal Nature, in addition to more traditional gaming publications, and sold over 750,000 sets in its first year.

Last year, Cascadia, where players compete to create “the most harmonious ecosystem” in the Pacific north-west, won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award as well as American Tabletop Awards’ best strategy competition.

Other recent titles include Kyoto, where players put themselves in the shoes of climate negotiators; Renature, where the objective is to restore a polluted valley, and Tipping Point, where participants build cities that must adapt to a warming climate.

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Thanks to Stuart!

Big Bank in Canada Wants Socialized Housing

ai image of a banker building a house

The housing crisis in Canada has been decades of policy failures in the making arguably starting in the 90s when the federal government stopped building housing for people. Now, the housing crisis has grown to the point where one of Canada’s largest banks is calling for socialized housing to be built again. This means building house for people who are so priced out of the market that renting is hard for them due to the downward pressures from wealthy home buyers.The bank also calls for other measures to be taken, as with most things, there isn’t one simple solution.

There is a case to critically consider next-best approach(es) to non-market housing across the country. There are many learnings to be leveraged from crowding private capital into affordable housing and there is still much more to be done in that ‘middle market’. This is essential but insufficient. The largely scathing OAG report on basic access to housing suggests we have neither adequate governance frameworks nor the tools at present to address the magnitude of the challenges at the acute end of the housing continuum.
Canada needs a more ambitious, urgent and well-resourced strategy to expand its social housing infrastructure. Aims to double the stock of social housing across the country could be a start. This would bring Canada just in line with OECD (and G7) averages, but well- below some European and Nordic markets. There is no particular magic behind this number: bringing the stock to 1.3 mn dwellings would not fully close gaps. But it signals far more ambition than the 150 k incremental units targeted under the National Housing Strategy with the bulk of its efforts focused on keeping the current count whole.

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