August 28, 2015: It’s not unusual for an architect to be a philosopher or theoretician and also a fine writer and speaker. Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Rem Koolhaas spring to mind. But few have the luxury of practicing what they preach. They’re too absorbed in mollifying client wishes to execute a vision in pure form.
Allan Shope excepted. A weekender for decades on Deep Hollow Road, Millbrook, New York, he decided at age 50 to abruptly change course, away from being an architect for rich and famous spare-no-expense clients in the service of whom, he says with irony, he “committed every architectural felony known to man.” Proud as he is of that work, and it is often spectacular, he now sees it as environmentally wayward.
These days, Shope wants to devote himself to what he calls “sustainable architecture,” this time in the service of a client’s “soul.” He quit the firm he helped found after 25 years, refined a fresh set of rules into a sort of architectural catechism, then built two houses for himself and spouse designed to exemplify his new paradigm as best as technology, his resources, and the evolving electrical regulatory environment allowed.
Taking our reported annual emissions and the size of the U.S. population, the average American is responsible for about 17 tons of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere each y ear—among highest per capita emissions in the world. About 1/3 of our emissions stem from transportation, largely personal automobiles. About 37% of our emissions are associated with the generation of electricity. The remaining emissions are attributed to industry, residential use, and
Overall emissions in the United States peaked in 2008 and have trended downward in more recent years—something we can rejoice about. And they are poised to drop even further with the institution of the Clean Power Act by the Obama administration, which aims to reduce emissions in 2030 to 32% below 2005 levels. Most of the reduction is sought by reducing the use of coal to generate electricity. Progressive increases in the fuel efficiency standards for automobiles are also destined to lead to lower emissions from the transportation sector in the coming years. The U.S. should arrive at the next international conference on climate change with some good success stories to tout.
August 20- Soon college campuses will be bustling with activity for the new fall semester. We are sure to hear a call from students to sell endowment investments in the fossil fuel industry. Bill McKibben’s group 350.org believes it is immoral to own stock in companies that are contributing to global warming. Already, Stanford has eliminated its investments in the coal industry, and a small number of other universities have divested to varying degrees.
This story originally ran May 21-June 4, 2014 and is being re-posted to link with a story on the future of the Hudson River by Antonia Shoumatoff: http://themillbrookindependent.com/news/hudson-river%E2%80%99s-future
Among the results of fracking is a significant increase in the volume of crude oil produced in the United States, oil that must be transported to refineries. We are finding that much of that oil travels by rail where regulations designed to protect the communities through which the trains travel are few. Train wrecks involving crude oil shipments are of concern to everyone in the Hudson region because much of this crude oil is travelling down the tracks that border the river. Here Tom Parrett begins a multi-part exploration of the problem.
After carbon dioxide and methane, the third most important “greenhouse” gas in Earth’s atmosphere derived from human activities is nitrous oxide (N2O). It is odorless and colorless and most familiar to us as the laughing gas used as an anesthetic in the dentist’s office. Chemically it contains two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom in a linear molecule. It is derived naturally from the action of microbes in soils and seawater, and the rising concentration of N2O in Earth’s atmosphere largely stems from the increasing use of nitrogen fertilizers, which are transformed by soil microbes producing a small amount of N2O as a byproduct. .