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Posts tagged "Climate Change"

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For the COP21 Paris Agreement to Work, Countries Must Watch these Streetfilms

We now have a "historic climate accord" from Paris via the COP21 summit with 195 countries on board. There are many noble goals including stopping climate change warming at no more than 2 degrees Celsius (that's 3.6 F) at which point most scientists have agreed is the point at which the planet will become drastically, catastrophically altered. It's a great achievement after many long decades of trying to get something very concrete in writing.

But there's nothing in the COP21 agreement that penalizes nations for not meeting goals. And that's troubling to many critics. Sure, there's talk about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, transitioning to more efficient technologies and cutting back on pollution. But government leaderships change often. Global economic catastrophes can leave countries crying poverty. In short, we can have hope, but five or ten years from now will this pact remain solid?

For the world to thrive and rely less on energy, we'll need to make our dense cities function better on our streets. (And most of our suburbs too!) Residents of the United States and other countries will need to alter how they get around, using less of the private car. With that, I say, watch this batch of Streetfilms to learn what's working in cities and what is currently an abomination.

The Streetfilm at the top is from Groningen in The Netherlands, where the city has achieved a spectacular 50% bike mode share! Although we know it's asking too much for U.S. cities to easily and quickly that, we need to re-think the way our roads work and how our cities are structured. We can do much better: cities with 5% to 15% for biking trips is certainly not out of the question with the right infrastructure. Thanks to many decisions since the 1970's, Groningen has done far more than that, much like other great world cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

But it goes beyond bikes & walking. It means a solid commitment to transit and using the most efficient ways to get people around on our streets. You can see how Zurich does that with a clean, efficient, and often-running tram system that even people that are rich choose to use over the private car.

We also need to continue to make cities more attractive for people to live. See here what New York City has done over the last five to ten years with some of its public spaces with this incredible before and after montage!

Read more...

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San Francisco: 350 Climate Action

350 parts per million. That’s the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide beyond which many scientists warn the earth’s climate may begin to spiral out of control. At higher concentrations, they say, heat-reflecting ice sheets will disappear and permafrost will melt, releasing vast amounts of additional greenhouse gases and driving sea levels higher in a vicious cycle. The earth’s atmosphere is currently at around 380 parts per million, and climbing.

For a young international movement, 350 is a rallying cry, an organizing principle. On October 24th, climate activists in over 180 countries with the group 350.org staged more than 5,200 demonstrations, pressuring world leaders to take meaningful action on global warming at upcoming United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen. In San Francisco, a ride of 350 cyclists in snorkels and flippers gathered at a downtown rally and traced a route through Bay-side neighborhoods threatened by rising sea levels.

Critics of the movement say the goal of stabilizing the atmosphere is too ambitious, and that even a cap of 450 parts per million would be difficult to achieve with curbs on carbon emissions. But the heated debate on the political possibilities of climate action is up against cold, hard, science.

The head of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, recently endorsed the goal of cutting emissions to 350 parts per million or less. Pachauri, who in 2007 split the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, was not able to advocate for any specific goals as chair of the IPCC, “but as  a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target."

StreetFilms
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“Stop the Pollution, Pick a Solution”

Ever heard an anti-idling rap? Or seen the "Funky Pollution Dance?" Tune in to this video to see what Livable Streets Education students are up to at MS 51 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

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Idle-Free NYC

Did you know that 25% of all New York City School children are affected by asthma?  May 5th was World Asthma Day and Idle-Free NYC Day, and supporters gathered at City Hall to celebrate new legislation, Intro 631-A, that reduces the time a motor vehicle can idle in a school zone from three minutes to one.  The law also says that the Environmental Control Board and the Department of Finance have to file annual reports on the number of idling violations issued and the total value of penalties assessed.  A new bill, proposed by Senator Daniel Squadron, calls for a city-wide one minute idling law.  For resources, tools, and information about how you can take action against idling, visit Asthma Free School Zones and Idle-Free NYC.  Also visit Livable Streets Education for cirriculum integration ideas and information.

StreetFilms
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Street Lessons from a Blizzard (with sneckdown!)

Tonight I found something on my computer that we never posted. A real curio to publish 16 months later as we head into Summer 2007.

Back in Feb 2006, as the largest ever recorded NYC snowfall (26.9 inches) was winding down - although I'll bet we had some doozies during the Ice Age! - I popped outside with a camera to try to capture some traffic calming, transportation and livable streets lessons.

One caveat: with our new DOT commissioner and Mayor Bloomberg's ambitious 2030 initaitive, I would not make some of the same comments today. And I realize my "everybody can take the subway" soundbite is a stretch, but check it out - I think you'll find some merit as we present a StreetFilm from the cutting room floor!

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Upper East Side Street Sweeper Dance

If you own a car and store it on the streets of New York City you probably don't realize how much you directly harm the environment.

Glenn McAnanama of Upper Green Side explains the chain reaction of the consequence of free on-street parking, what it means to the health of New Yorkers and how it all contributes to world greenhouse emissions.