Weekly Links: The Psychedelic Cities of Space, Atlanta in Danger of Losing Its City in the Forest Nickname, and the Story of How LA Traffic Got to be so un-Dude-Like

alaka village sea levelWill this remote village in Alaska be the first victim of sea level rise? 

From PRI: “In 2008, the Inupiat village sued 24 of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies for damages. In 2013, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and the village has declared it will not file a new claim in state court….Meanwhile, nature, heedless of humankind’s eternal squabbles, goes about its business: the sea around Kivalina continues to rise, the storms get stronger, the ice gets thinner — and Kivalina’s 400 residents must grapple with how to relocate in the decade they’re estimated to have left.”

atl mag city tree coverAtlanta is called the “City in the Forest,” but too much in-town development threatens to erode tree canopy and undermine this nickname. How do we reconcile the sustainable and desirable aspects of building denser while also protecting our natural space?

From Atlanta Magazine: “Despite stringent ordinances aimed at protecting those trees, our canopy faces a paradoxical new threat: renewed interest in urban living. Population growth within the city and a surge in denser development may represent eco-friendly shifts from Atlanta’s car-centric sprawl, but those trends are paired with infill development that puts trees—especially older, taller “overstory” trees that form the canopy—at risk and reduces space to plant replacements.”

la trafficThe Dude Probably Wouldn’t Abide by LA Traffic. It’s Bad. This is indoctrinated into us by age 5 and is pretty much the only thing every American can agree on. Granted L.A is a huge city, but how the hell did it get this way? This is but one interesting story of the many, many interesting stories of how the city has developed over its relatively short span of existence.

From Mental Floss: “As time marched on, yellow cars would go the way of cable cars before them. Automobiles became the favored mode of transportation in the 1950s, and they might have had some help, too. According to a popular theory, automotive interests, led by General Motors, bought up a number of streetcar lines and converted them to bus routes. If this sounds familiar, it might be because this story also found its way into the plot of 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The automotive interests acted in the name of increasing sales, but today’s studies suggest that a number of post-WWI economic factors would have caused street cars to become obsolete in any event.”

space city nasaThat city at the end of the movie Interstellar (as well as many other space cities) is based on a design by NASA created roughly 40 years ago at a conference in Silicon Valley.

From Vice: “What they came up with—designs for huge, orbital settlements—are still pretty much the basis for all our space digs today, science-fictional or otherwise. The Stanford torus, a giant, mile-diameter space doughnut that rotates to create artificial gravity, should look familiar: The off-world cities in Elysium and Interstellar are inspired by the concept. The torus, which scientists conceived to house 10,000 people, would need 10 million tons of mass and a radiation shield made from space metal.”

dust bowlIn an ode to Ken Burns’ great documentary, The Dust Bowl, Josh and Chuck from the podcast Stuff You Should Know discuss the extremely poor land use decisions made by humans that severely exacerbated a drought that led to the event know as the Dust Bowl.  This topic is wonderfully interesting and provides so much context for the existence of the notorious Farm Bill and the massive amount of land owned in the west by the US Government.

No transcript is available yet, so sadly no direct quotes. The complete replacement of natural, drought-resistance grasses with wheat led to the destruction of the Great Plains. Huge plumes of top soil, known as Black Blizzards, drifted as far east as Washington, DC. After 60% of the population was forced to flee due to the complete annihilation of the land, the federal government finally stepped in and created Soil Conservation Districts to mandate soil quality-control practice. The government also bought up land in the West to maintain it in natural states to provide for stable pockets of land to buffer cultivated land.

Listen to the Stuff You Should Know podcast on droughts here.

Share Your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.