SmartPlanet.com, June/July 2011, by Andrew Nusca  —  The importance of a resilient city is one that’s flexible yet durable enough to handle whatever environmental threat climate change throws its way.

But how are we doing today? And what more can be done?

In a small but detailed survey, author and researcher Boyd Cohen ranks the top 10 most resilient cities at TriplePundit, judging them on criteria from mitigation efforts to adaptation schemes to basic coordination and preparedness.

He calls it “one of the first ever global rankings of resilient cities.” We call it interesting, to say the least.

Here are the top 10, and why:

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark. Favorable policies, very low emissions and all that bicycling puts it on top.
  2. Curitiba, Brazil. The world’s first bus rapid transit system, extremely low emissions, a high percentage of renewables and a long-term adaptation plan.
  3. Barcelona, Spain. A solid adaptation plan grounded in metrics and a world-leading push on solar.
  4. Stockholm, Sweden. Political support, high rates of rail use and aggressive emissions targets — plus all those public parks — helps this town keep its footprint small.
  5. Vancouver, Canada. A goal to be the world’s greenest city by 2020 has all cylinders firing: policy, a 90% renewables energy portfolio, low emissions per capita, local food sourcing and lots o’ LEED buildings.
  6. Paris, France. Decent political support, extremely high public transit usage rates (go Metro!), a detailed adaptation plan and an aggressive greenery program.
  7. San Francisco, USA. The politics are present, the LEED buildings are gleaming, aggressive emissions reductions are targeted and a group purchasing program for renewable energy is underway.
  8. New York, USA. Extremely strong support from the mayor as well as continent-leading use of public transit shore up NYC’s efforts, along with a laser focus on data and a detailed adaptation plan.
  9. London, UK. This dense city’s congestion pricing was politically risky but has indeed resulted in reduced emissions. A focus on supporting public transit and greener vehicle fleets helps, too, but the real gem is its movable flood barrier, the largest in the world, protecting 125 sq. km. of the city from surges.
  10. Tokyo, Japan. Leads the world in public transit use, as well as sheer population. A climate action plan is in place, but a detailed adaptation plan is not, and renewables remain an attractive target without a specific mandate.

It’s an odd list. Among the top 10 are some of the world’s most populous and global examples mixed in with smaller but progressive towns, and the list of honorable mentions certainly diversifies the results even more: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kyoto, Melbourne, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Amsterdam, Madrid, Brussels, Rome, Bogota, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Austin, Chicago, Seattle and Toronto.

So how did he get there? For cities with populations of 600,000, Cohen looked at factors that include political commitment, density, transit access and use, renewable energy capacity, greenhouse gas emissions, GHG reduction targets, climate change mitigation and adaptation planning, and acreage of parks.

And what of the United States, you ask? Cohen just so happened to publish his Top 10 U.S. cities last month.

Those are:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Seattle
  3. Portland, Ore.
  4. Washington
  5. Denver
  6. San Diego
  7. New York & Philadelphia (tie)
  8. San Jose
  9. Chicago

Why the difference with the global rankings? For one, Cohen had to remove the green buildings ranking, since a similar metric does not exist outside North America and the U.K. Second, university leadership was also included.

All in all, fascinating stuff. Is your city prepared?

Photo: Nicolai Perjesi/VisitCopenhagen

Michael Bloomberg, has done wonders in his two terms as mayor of New York City, and now into his third term.  He has planted over one million trees since he became mayor.  He has installed a hydro-electric turbine in the East River, that makes electricity for some nearby buildings. He has installed bike lanes on the Eastside and Westside of Manhattan.  He has diverted traffic so that tourists can lounge in comfortable chairs with tables and gardens right in the middle of Times Square, in the 34th Street area near Macy’s, and all over the city.  He has created garden malls in the middle of Broadway, and little gardens all over the city, as well as beautiful landscaping throughout the whole Westside Drive.  He has ordered that about 2/3 of all NYC taxis must drive the new all-electric Nissan (with 100% changeable and fast chargeable, lithium-titanate battery).

He has begun a survey of NYC rooftops suitable for solar panels.  He has been improving public transportation since he first took office.  Because he is wealthy, he only takes a $1.00 per year salary.  He has been the best mayor of NYC I have ever known, and many like me wish he could have either a fourth term, or serve as NYC mayor for the rest of his life.  I’m sure I have left out many of Bloomberg’s achievements, but the above, give an idea of how much greater he has made New York City.

Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

 

 

SmartPlanet.com, by Mark Halper | June/July 2011  —   It’s not just the tennis world that will turn its attention to the UK this weekend when Wimbledon crowns its 2011 champions.

So, too, will motoring enthusiasts, as the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed revs up today through July 3 a in Chichester, some 50 miles southwest of London near the English Channel.

There, they’ll see a prototype of the Lightning GT, the good-looking car pictured above, designed by the UK’s Lightning Car Company.

Lightning’s website boasts that the GT “combines elegant and timeless British sports car design with a super strong aluminium composite structure competition bred chassis technology and a futuristic all electric super car powertrain.” Nothing in the photo makes me doubt that much.

I did, however, get curious about one of the car’s standout features – a lithium titanate battery, not to be confused, exactly, with the more commonly known lithium ion battery. More on titanate from Lightning:

“Lightning has developed an automotive application of the nano-structured lithium titanate battery system – already well proven in arduous US military applications – to provide the ultimate in clean energy storage: stable, safe operation at extreme ambient temperatures; ultra-fast recharging yet an exceptionally long cycle life; power capacity that not only supports supercar performance but can absorb full regenerative braking energy.”

Wow, “nano-structured.”

I’m no expert on lithium titanate, so I looked it up on that ultimate arbiter of knowledge and information, Wikipedia.

Here’s Wiki’s take: “The lithium-titanate battery is a type of rechargeable battery, which has the advantage of being faster to charge than other lithium-ion batteries. Some analysts speculate that lithium-titanate batteries will power electric cars of the future.

A lithium-titanate battery is a modified lithium-ion battery that uses lithium-titanate nanocrystals on the surface of its anode instead of carbon. This gives the anode a surface area of about 100 square meters per gram, compared with 3 square meters per gram for carbon, allowing electrons to enter and leave the anode quickly. This makes fast recharging possible and provides high currents when needed. The disadvantage is that lithium-titanate batteries have a lower voltage and capacity than conventional lithium-ion battery technologies.”

Ah, lower capacity. That won’t excite too many people already unhappy over the limited 100-mile or less range of typical electric vehicles.

Still, this deserves a look. And maybe Lightning can solve the range challenge by the time it puts the car on sale, which it says will be in late 2012.

I won’t be at Goodwood. If you go, or even if you don’t, let us know what you think. Is the Lighting a worthy bolt out of the blue, a flash in the pan, or what?

Photo: Lightning Car Company

 

SmartPlanet.com, by Channtal Fleischfresser | June/July 2011  —  Few deny the environmental benefits of zero emissions vehicles – but one of the biggest concerns keeping the general public from investing in electric cars is the ‘chicken or the egg’ problem: there’s no point in buying an EV until widespread charging infrastructure is in place so you and your new EV don’t wind up out of juice on the side of a highway. Yet that infrastructure is unlikely to be implemented unless the market senses a significant demand for it.

Enter Better Place, a California-based company that specializes in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Better Place has teamed up with Renault to provide a model for EV charging infrastructure that may make the prospect of owning an EV much more appealing.

Ahead of its commercial launch a few months from now, Better Place presented on Wednesday its first Battery Switch station in Gladsaxe, Denmark. The station will use the company’s battery-switching technology together with the new Renault Fluence Z.E., to give drivers unlimited driving range. Check out the video below to see how the system works:

A Renault Fluence driver and Better Place subscriber need only drive up to the switching station, swipe her membership card, and the fully automated process does the rest. Much like a car wash, the driver may stay in the vehicle, while a robotic arm exchanges the depleted battery for a fully charged one. Once the process, which takes only 2 minutes, is complete, the driver can get back on the road.

 

 

 

The station in Gladsaxe is the first of 20 such Battery Switch Stations to be set up across Denmark in the next nine months. Denmark’s nationwide network of charging infrastructure, which will launch later this year, is being developed through a partnership between Better Place, DONG Energy (a European energy group), and more than 45 municipalities.

“The Better Place solution offers a great driving experience, improves air quality and increases the share of renewable energy in the electric grid – all of this at a more affordable cost of ownership than comparable conventional cars,” said Johnny Hansen, CEO of Better Place Denmark. “I am convinced that with the Battery Switch model we have overcome the last barrier to the electric car’s commercial breakthrough: range, and based on the interest we have received so far, I expect this to be the top selling car in Denmark in just a few years.”

Last year, Better Place implemented a battery-switching system on Tokyo taxis (see video):

Battery-Switching on Tokyo Taxis

 

 

 

But Denmark’s planned stations, as well as a similar system to launch in Israel by the end of 2011, represent the first nationwide battery-switching infrastructure projects.

The initial areas of implementation are all much smaller than the U.S., and thus far the company’s battery-switching technology is only compatible with the Renault Fluence Z.E. and the Nissan Rogue SUV. But if the initiative proves successful, it shouldn’t be long before we start to see similar charging infrastructure in this country.

Photo: Better Place

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/transportation/how-to-give-evs-unlimited-range/565?tag=nl.e660

 

by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD |

REALAGE.COM

 

 

Grilling meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, turkey, and, to a much lesser extent, fish) is hot work, and high-temp cooking creates heterocyclic amines (HAs), which may increase the risk of several cancers. True, broiling or pan frying can raise the cooking temperature above the danger point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but grilling makes it far too easy to reach HA-creating heights.

Still, grilling doesn’t have to jeopardize your life any more than driving has to make you run over your neighbor’s dog. (You do avoid that mutt, don’t you?)

The first thing you need to do is discover your current grilling savvy. Answer the questions below, and give yourself 1 point for each yes and 0 for each no:

Y N 1. Do you eat meat more than once a week? (Meat includes luncheon meats, veal, pork, and red meat.)

Y N 2. Do you eat meat more than twice a week?

Y N 3. Do you usually grill meat until it has grill marks or charcoal on it?

Y N 4. Do you like your meat medium-well or well-done?

Y N 5. Do you like your meat very well-done?

Y N 6. Do you ever eat meat cooked so well that it’s dried out?

Total tally for numbers 1 through 6:_____________

Now, answer the questions below, and subtract as directed from your tally:

7. Do you typically marinate meat in some combination of olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, or mustard? If yes, subtract 3 points from your score above.

8. Do you always keep meat moist and cook it under 350 degrees Fahrenheit ? If yes, subtract 1 point.

9. Do you microwave meat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes before you cook it, and then throw out the juices? If yes, subtract 1 point.

10. Do you turn meat every 3 to 4 minutes rather than letting it cook fully on one side? Subtract 1 point for that.

11. Do you always have 3 cups of cooked broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or cabbage every time you have grilled meat? Take away 1 point for that.

Your score: If your total is a negative number, you’ve helped diminish the effects of the HAs. If your score is 2 or above (or even 0 or 1), it’s essential for you to do all of the following things. Together, they can cut HA production by more than 98 percent:

1. Lose the fat. Drippings from fat create smoke, which surrounds the cooking meat in HAs. Cut holes in foil and line the grill, so drippings pass through but meat is protected from flare-ups that smoke it. Also, avoid charring meat.

2. Marinate. This protects the meat from high temperatures. Marinades that use olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, seasoning, or mustard keep your meat moist and cut down on the HAs. Even barbecue sauce — if it’s made without syrups and added sugar — will do.

3. Microwave. You will eliminate 90% of the HAs by simply microwaving your meat or poultry for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and then throwing out the juices. They contain creatine and amino acids, which form HAs during high-heat cooking.

4. Flip what you’re cooking every 3 minutes. This curtails HAs by keeping the surface temperature down.

5. Veggie up. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, increase the metabolism of HAs. Heap your plate with these each time you eat grilled meat — and even when you don’t.

 

A sign that reads: “Shandong Highway Corp. invests to operate Shandong Highway Jiaozhou Bay Bridge” is seen at Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Qingdao, Shandong province June 27, 2011. The world’s longest sea bridge spanning Jiaozhou Bay of Qingdao City, Shandong Province, opened on Thursday, June 30, 2011. The bridge is 42 km (26 miles) long, Xinhua News Agency reported. Picture taken June 27, 2011. REUTERS/China

 

 

 

 

China’s enormous span is longer than a marathon in length and cost more than a billion dollars

 

 

China’s Jiaozhou Bay Bridge

 

 

This photo taken Wednesday, June 29, 2011 released by China‘s Xinhua news agency shows the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Qingdao, east China‘s Shandong Province. China opened Thursday, June 30, 2011, the world’s longest cross-sea bridge, which is 42 kilometers (26 miles) long and links China‘s eastern port city of Qingdao to an offshore island, Huangdao.