Category Archives: Art

France Launches Solar Roadway Project

The world’s first solar highway has been opened in France, in the not-very-sunny village of Tourouvre au Perche in Normandy. The roadway is just one kilometre (0.6mi) long, but that still works out at 2,800 square metres of photovoltaic cells—enough, hopefully, to power the village’s street lights.

The road was built by Colas, a large Anglo-French construction company. Colas has apparently been working on its own solar road tech, called Wattway, for at least five years. Wattway has been tested in car parks, but this is the first time it has been used on an active road. There will now be a two-year test period, to see if Wattway can withstand the rigour of being pounded by thousands of cars and trucks per day, and whether it can actually provide a useful amount of electricity.

One of the Wattway panels up close.
Enlarge / One of the Wattway panels up close.
Usefulness aside, the main problem with constructing solar roads is their crippling cost. One of the main selling points of Wattway, according to Colas, is that each panel is just a few millimetres thick, and can thus be installed on top of an existing road, which in turn massively reduces construction costs. Having said that, the 1km road in Normandy cost €5 million (£4.3m) to build. And that’s for a single lane of a two-lane highway!

Expanding that out to €10m per kilometre for a two-lane solar road, you’re looking at a total cost measured in billions or even trillions of pounds to cover a sizeable portion of a country’s roads with solar panels. France has over a million kilometres of roads; the US has over 6 million. And that’s not counting the larger highways with more than two lanes…

Fortunately, Ségolène Royal, France’s ecology minister, has a much more reasonable goal in mind: she would like to see solar roadways replace one kilometre of every 1000 in France. Again, assuming she means two-lane solar roads at around €10 million per kilometre, the total cost would be €10 billion—not bad, assuming the panels (and the accompany electrical system) don’t need regular maintenance, and that they produce enough electricity to be worth the much higher initial outlay.

Copenhagen has more bikes than cars

As the Guardian reports, last year in Copenhagen, 265,700 bikes took to the road compared to 252,600 cars. This phenomenon is part of a long-time redesign and investment in bike infrastructure in the city.

Here’s a clip from the Guardian:

Copenhagen’s efforts to create a cycling city have paid off: bicycle traffic has risen by 68% in the last 20 years. “What really helped was a very strong political leadership; that was mainly Ritt Bjerregaard [the former lord mayor], who had a dedicated and authentic interest in cycling,” says Klaus Bondam, who was technical and environmental mayor from 2006 to 2009 and is now head of the Danish Cycling Federation. “Plus, a new focus on urbanism and the new sustainability agenda broke the glass roof when it came to cycling.”

And check out this video on the Copenhagen bike lanes:

Poplar Trees and Restoration of Contaminated Soils, Water

Check out this old article on Lou Licht, an Iowa-based engineer who works with planting poplar trees for soil remediation and water management. Licht’s trees eliminate the chemicals in wastewater. “Every drop of water passes within an inch of a root,” he said. Those roots and microbes – the tiny organisms around them – breakdown pollutants like pathogens, ammonia, spilled oil or pharmaceuticals.”

Here’s a clip from Iowa Watch:

He’s an entrepreneur with a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa. But in some ways, Licht still is like the dairy farmer he grew up as. Only now, he grows things. His crops are poplar trees that filter fine particles and formaldehyde from the air. When planted in swales, they retain and filter water from rain, reducing storm surges and runoff in flood-prone states like Iowa. And, they can treat sewage.

“In the case of Iowa, where we are surrounded by farmland, the right 15-20 acres can do all the tertiary treatment for a town of 1,000 people,” he said.

Licht, a native of Lowden, Iowa, lives in a North Liberty home surrounded by poplars. Wearing thin-rimmed glasses and black zip-up vest over a long-sleeved beige shirt one breezy October morning, he talked about his professional evolvement, the pollution-fighting trees and his hopes for what they could do for Iowa’s environmental problems.

As he spoke, the sun peaked through the thick forest of spindling trees that shield much of his lake from view. Topped with thin patches of still-green leaves, those trees dot the landscape of the few acres Licht calls home. Green-brown, expansive space, accented with the chirping of birds, it is the type of place where you might expect to find someone who studies trees.

But Licht doesn’t just study trees. He plants them – by the thousands each year in places like Chicago, Atlanta and St. Louis, and gets thousands of dollars to do it. He’s not an in-your-face ecologist who lambastes mankind for “the rape of Mother Earth.” He’s a businessman who speaks of incentives and convergence. To him, cleaning the environment isn’t a moral issue. “It just makes sense,” he said.

But why would the U.S. Air Force or companies like Tyco or Republic Waste, which is the second largest disposer of garbage nationally, want Licht’s trees? Why do scientists around the globe seek his advice?

Licht’s work is “awesome,” said Kenneth Yongabi, coordinator of Phytobiotechnology Research Foundation in Cameroon. “I have no doubt about the formidable treasure this technology has for the future.”

The trees work through a process called phytoremediation that involves tree roots, swales and surrounding microbes, and they save companies money, lot’s of it, he and his environmental colleagues say. They help clean polluted land, air and water.

One of his projects is in Slovenia, where land that once was oil refinery now is an 18-hole golf course still lined with some of the trees he planted years before.

In Iowa, Licht says his methods could help deal with poorly treated sewage. More than 700 un-sewered communities discharge 1.2 billion gallons of poorly treated sewage into state waters, according to two studies by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources cited in a 2005 Iowa Policy Project report. Upgrading those systems to new federal standards can cost millions.

Interview with Herbert Girardet on Regenerative Cities

Author of Creating Regenerative Cities, Herbert Girardet has a nice interview in London Essays on the challenges of transitioning cities off fossil fuels, and the differences between regenerative cities, resilient cities and sustainable cities.

Here’s a clip:

“I argue that nowadays we are struggling to make the transition from Petropolis to Ecopolis, where urban consumption supports and regenerates rather than despoils the ecosystems that nature and humanity need to survive. These days, some people argue for creating the ‘intelligent city’ or ‘creative city.’ Others talk about the ‘liveable city’, meaning a city that offers residents and visitors a good quality of life, with nice parks and safe streets and so on. And of course this agenda is very popular with city people and city governments. Then there’s the ‘smart city’ – the city that exploits all the potential of new IT technology. This is very popular with companies like IBM or Siemens, for obvious reasons, and there’s a lot of money being spent on this by city authorities and companies.

And then of course there is lot of talk about the ‘resilient city’ – although I have criticised this concept because to my mind it is rather like the medieval city that surrounds itself with a defensive wall: in the past it would have been to resist marauding tribes; increasingly today it would be walls to shut out rising sea levels.

And then finally there is the concept of the sustainable city, which dates back to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 where the concept of sustainable urbanism was first defined. A sustainable city is a city where people live in ways that don’t damage the chances of future generations to lead good lives.

I argue in Creating Regenerative Cities that we need to think beyond sustainability because we have not done much to protect and sustain living nature in recent years, particularly in the period since these ideas were first formulated, 20–25 years ago. We have run down the resources of the planet to an extraordinary degree. The idea of the regenerative city draws attention to the need to replenish and make good the damage we have done and to understand the city in all its complex relations to the natural environment.”

Sundance Film Fest Features Climate Change

The New York Times had a nice feature on the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, which will showcase films on climate change and the environment.

In a special section, The New Climate, 14 films will be featured, including:

Chasing Coral / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. World Premiere. (U.S. Documentary)

Chasing Coral: The VR Experience / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Jeff Orlowski) — Zackary Rago, a passionate scuba diver and researcher, documented the unprecedented 2016 coral bleaching event at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef with this exclusive underwater VR experience. (New Frontier: Virtual Reality)

The Diver / Mexico (Director: Esteban Arrangoiz) — Julio César Cu Cámara is the chief diver in the Mexico City sewer system. His job is to repair pumps and dislodge garbage that flows into the gutters to maintain the circulation of sewage waters. (Short Films)

Hot Winter: A film by Dick Pierre / U.S.A. (Director: Jack Henry Robbins, Screenwriters: Jack Henry Robbins, Nunzio Randazzo) — One of the first films in American cinema to address climate change, Hot Winter: A film by Dick Pierre, was also a hardcore porno. All sex scenes have been removed as to not distract from the conscious message. (Short Films)

Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry / U.S.A. (Directors: Laura Dunn, Jef Sewell) — This cinematic portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture is seen through the mind’s eye of farmer and writer Wendell Berry. (Spotlight)

Melting Ice / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Danfung Dennis) — We take viewers on a transcendent exploration into the devastating consequences of climate change on Greenland’s ice sheet. Stand under collapsing glaciers, next to raging rivers of ice melt and witness rising sea levels—all visceral warnings of our planet’s future. (New Frontier: Virtual Reality)

Plastic China / China (Director: Jiu-liang Wang) — Yi-Jie, an 11-year-old girl, works alongside her parents in a recycling facility while dreaming of attending school. Kun, the facility’s ambitious foreman, dreams of a better life. Through the eyes and hands of those who handle its refuse, comes an examination of global consumption and culture. International Premiere. (World Documentary)

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman / U.S.A. (Directors: Susan Froemke, John Hoffman, Beth Aala) — From the Montana Rockies to the wheat fields of Kansas and the Gulf of Mexico, families who work the land and sea are crossing political divides to find unexpected ways to protect the natural resources vital to their livelihoods. These are the new heroes of conservation, deep in America’s heartland. World Premiere. (Documentary Premieres)

RISE / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Latimer) — This vibrant and immersive documentary series explores the front lines of indigenous resistance. Episodes Apache Stronghold, Sacred Water and Red Power examine factors that threaten indigenous liberation in the 21st century. A series of contrasts, this series is both a condemnation of colonialism and a celebration of indigenous peoples. Continuing Sundance Institute’s ongoing commitment to presenting bold stories from within the Native American and Indigenous communities, we are proud to debut three episodes: Apache Stronghold, Sacred Water and Red Power, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere. (Special Events)

Tree / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Milica Zec, Winslow Porter, Key Collaborators: Aleksandar Protic, Jacob Kudsk Steensen) — This virtual experience transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as the branches and body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling to its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand. (New Frontier: Virtual Reality)

Trophy / U.S.A. (Director: Shaul Schwarz, Co-Director: Christina Clusiau) — This in-depth look into the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Africa unravels the complex consequences of treating animals as commodities. World Premiere. (U.S. Documentary)

Visions of an Island / U.S.A. (Director: Sky Hopinka) — Indigenous and foreign presences coexist on an Alaskan island in the center of the Bering Sea. (Short Films)

Water & Power: A California Heist / U.S.A. (Director: Marina Zenovich) — In California’s convoluted water system, notorious water barons find ways to structure a state-engineered system to their own advantage. This examination into their centers of power shows small farmers and everyday citizens facing drought and a new, debilitating groundwater crisis. World Premiere. (U.S. Documentary)

One Poem, Two Translations and One and a Half Poets

Chen Ko Hua is a poet, essayist, and ophthalmologist with a degree from Taipei Medical University and Harvard Medical School. He has written more than twenty books of poetry in Mandarin, and this fall he was a resident writer with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Every year, the program invites about 35 writers to live in Iowa City for a few months and attend readings, panels, classes, with the chance to interact with writers from around the globe. This year’s group included a surrealist fiction writer from Bulgaria, a flash fiction writer from the Philippines, a spoken-word poet from Botswana…

After my International Literature Today class, in which he presented his work, I asked him if he might provide some insight on my project. He followed up by sending me an entire signed book of his poetry, along with tens of essays and poetry he had written about the environment, climate change, weather patterns, etc.

My parents and I sat down, going line-by-line through each stanza and together we translated this poem. I brought the newly birthed “Call to El Nino” to him, then I sat down to see what he thought.

El Nino refers to a weather phenomenon where abnormally high or low sea temperatures and ocean current changes create unstable rain patterns in the east Pacific region, causing extreme rainfall or droughts at times.

“I wrote this poem maybe last year,” Chen said, “Maybe I’m paranoid, but also I’m a Buddhist. In the Buddhist manuscript, they also describe the end of the human world that’s pretty similar. It’s called “huo” which is a fire, “huo da” means the fire will be destroy everything. So that’s pretty similar with the temperatures getting higher and higher. And as a poet we can imagine that it’s a warming of nature, or telling people that we really have changed too many things, we twist or we are just too greedy so we change nature. Nature will change us and change the world. Sometimes I will worry about this.”

I would not call myself a poet, perhaps just a partial poet. But the value of any actual person as a translator is especially noteworthy when you compare their work to the results from a “Google Translator.”

Google chugged:

We already call the baby

The baby ‘s ghost has arrived. Rainstorm

The morning sunset

We live in high places

You can see a brilliant purple gold edge of the evil cloud

UFO-like passing

My Translation: As you read through the rest, pay close attention to the line rhythm, the word choice, and the punctuation/word capitalization in the poem.

Call to El Niño

We beckon to El Niño.

Its spirit has already arrived

with the morning sunset’s downpour.

We live safely, high above the ground

watching the brilliant purple golden clouds

its ominous edges

soaring across the sky

like a UFO.

By the window, a pot of withering plant —

Indeed,

tucked

within the skyscraper made

of steel and iron bones,

sporting

flu-proof masks

the humans are locked inside doors,

desiccated

by air-conditioners.

Though it wants to travel, it wants to visit from thousands of miles away

together, we keep El Nino outside —

We wait for the sun to once again kiss the earth,

when the breeze is soft and sunshine is tender.

We poke our heads out

only to discover El Niño

at every door

has left a perfumed

X.


 

陳克華∕江飛雋

我們已然召喚聖嬰而

 聖嬰的幽靈已然抵達。暴雨

傾盆的假日清晨

我們安居高處

可以望見一朵豔紫金邊的邪雲

幽浮般掠過

 

窗邊奄奄一息的盆栽—

是的,避居鋼筋鐵骨的高聳建築裡

口戴隔離病毒口罩的人類

深鎖重門,空調除溼

想把不遠千里

造訪的聖嬰拒於門外—

 

直到陽光重新親吻大地

風又和日又麗

我們探頭出去

 

只發現聖嬰在家家戶戶門囗

留下一個甜美的

 

X。

Kate’s Outline

cnpoutline

C  N  P    O U T L I N E

Theme : will be based on the concept of oil and crude materials and their destruction of nature and society as a whole. The idea is the spilling of oil will have an effect everywhere with its drips touching everything.

General storyline I (maybe with someone else) will walk up representing humanity/Big Oil. Will admire this beautiful piece, and then spill all over it. Subject matter/ pieces in the whole canvas: forest, ocean, desert, cityscapes, possibly Iowa City, polar ice caps, human health, and how our culture is impacting these elements.

Main characters me, the piece, humanity. 

Interviews / Research Erica Damman (arts medium), Richard Priest (oil background), online research of artists of inspiration

Arts Medium  slanted canvas with acrylic subjects. Then real oil or a replacement will be spilt over it, dripping on ceramic/plastic figures of humans on a map.

That Tree Might Be My Cousin

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-1-15-13-pm Irish author Paddy Woodworth has an interesting review of David Haskell’s new book, The Forest Unseen, which focuses “on a single square metre of leaf litter in the hollow” in Tennessee, which he visited almost every day through a calendar year.

Here’s a clip:

“I think we live in a world marked by a deep paradox,” he says. “It is simultaneously riven with fathomless pain and filled with unspeakable beauty. This paradox partly emerges from our human perceptions and partly from the tension between co-operation and conflict that underlies all biology.

“Yes, the evolutionary process is competitive and is marked by no mercy for all who suffer. But in the crucible of intense competition some remarkable co-operative bonds have been welded. Every living organism exists only because of these bonds: unions that live inside every cell, alliances that allow many species to thrive in forest soil.

“Human observers and commentators can pick out any of these strands to paint a portrait of a nature that is relentlessly cruel or that is suffused with beneficence. A more complete view recognises that cruelty and beneficence are human terms for a world that is not confined by the categories of our intellectual and emotional responses.”