Summary of “How Humans Could Halt Climate Change By 2050”

Last year, the world’s climate scientists put out a report showing what it will take to limit global warming to 1.5 °C by the end of this century, averting the worst consequences of climate change.
Sally Benson, director of the Climate and Energy Project at Stanford, is so ready to take the leap and imagine this zero-carbon world 2050, it’s a little startling.
Different guides to this 2050 world show me slightly different things.
“You know, it’s like a historical artifact, but you know, they find it very touching. They are appreciative, because they’re living in a world where they don’t need to worry about climate change anymore.”
Years ago, he wrote a big report on cities and climate change for the World Bank.
We’re looking at an essential part of a world without climate change.
In a world without climate change, this is what cattle grazing looks like, all over the tropics.
It’s 2050 and there are almost ten billion people in the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “From video game to day job: How ‘SimCity’ inspired a generation of city planners”

From video game to day job: How ‘SimCity’ inspired a generation of city planners – Los Angeles Times Jason Baker was studying political science at UC Davis when he got his hands on “SimCity.” He took a careful approach to the computer game.
Instead of writing a term paper about three different models for how cities can develop, Baker proposed building three scenarios in “SimCity,” then letting the game run on its own and writing about how his virtual cities fared.
“That’s what really got me thinking about urban planning and ‘SimCity,’ where you put in trains, where you help people move,” said Trinh, now acting senior transportation planner for Caltrans in downtown L.A. In more than a dozen interviews for this article, people who went from “SimCity” enthusiasts to professional planners talked about what they liked about the game: The way you can visualize how a single change affects a whole city.
Will Wright, the creator of “SimCity,” imagined when he designed the game that it would be interesting only to architects and city planners.
Like most video games based on real-world jobs, “SimCity” oversimplifies some of the more mundane elements of urban planning.
The “SimCity: BuildIt” app, developed at EA’s Twentytrack studio in Helsinki, Finland, has 6.1 million players and more than 200 million lifetime downloads, according to EA. Inka Spara, the game manager, said the team has purposefully brought a more European perspective to the game.
The vast majority of players, whose exposure to city planning begins and ends with the game, might come to think “SimCity’s” approach is the only way to build a city.
Top of mind among city planners today is a set of problems not present in the game.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Recycling Is Broken”

The recycling industry-which operates with next to no federal guidance despite processing a quarter of America’s waste-is in an existential struggle to chart a new path forward for itself.
Most of us think of recycling as a service our city provides, but in reality it’s a business.
The effect on the U.S. recycling business was, as one industry expert put it, like an “Earthquake.” Mixed paper and plastic exports to China plunged more than 90 percent between January 2017 and January 2018, according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Anne Germain, Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs at the National Waste and Recycling Association, an industry trade group, told me that mixed paper went from selling for about $100 a ton to a high of about $3 a ton.
Ultimately, the effects have rippled back to the cities which, faced with soaring costs to keep recycling afloat, have been forced to make hard choices, whether that’s sending recyclables to a landfill or paring down the list of items they’ll accept.
McGrath said if Philly can convince residents to stop tossing plastic bags in the recycling bin, that alone would be a big deal.
Germain said public education was something the recycling industry as a whole had let slide over the years.
While a better educated public would translate to a cleaner, more profitable recycling stream, there’s also a desperate need for new manufacturers to fill the China-shaped void.

The orginal article.

Summary of “There’s new evidence for what happened to people who survived Vesuvius”

“Tuck’s combination of history and archaeology has produced strong evidence that it is possible to trace Vesuvian refugees,” bioarchaeologist Kristina Killgrove wrote at Forbes about this new work.
The latter made up a large proportion of the business class in the Roman world, with merchant warehouses and real estate holdings in the major harbor city of Puteoli, for example, so Tuck surmises they may have been traveling on business when Vesuvius erupted.
Supporting evidence would include evidence of intermarriage between two or more refugee families; artifacts or cult objects associated with Pompeian or Herculaneum gods in the refugee communities; the construction of new public infrastructure to accommodate large numbers of refugees in the period after the Vesuvius eruption; and mining the data from isotope analysis of human remains showing trace elements in the bones as evidence of the population’s mobility.
“There’s probably a lot more survivors out there that I can’t find.” People who moved in with family members in the refugee cities would be largely invisible to this kind of analysis if they shared common Roman names.
Tuck focused primarily on new names previously uncommon in the refugee cities.
Tuck found evidence of refugees settling in communities on the north side of the Bay of Naples, usually moving as families.
“If you look at a map of the bodies found at Pompeii, they’re almost all found on the south side of the city, which makes sense because the volcano was on the north side. If it erupts, your first thought is to run away from it.” There is some irony in the fact that people who counter-intuitively fled north and got out of the blast zone quickly stood a better chance of surviving.
“Tuck’s work, combined with bioarchaeological evidence from the skeletons of people who were trapped by Vesuvius, and with biochemical evidence in the form of isotope and ancient DNA analysis, paves the way for a fuller understanding of this catastrophic natural disaster and its ramifications on the Roman people,” Killgrove wrote.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Will Karl Marx Allee Spark Berlin’s Housing Revolution?”

As Berliners grow increasingly frustrated with rising rents, there’s a question making the rounds in local politics that could seriously shake things up: Should there be a limit to how much housing a landlord can own?
The proposal is just one of several moves in a city that could be on the cusp of a housing revolution.
Now, Berlin seems to be deciding that its housing market is broken, and that the private sector alone will not fix it.
In a city where the overwhelming majority of people don’t own the units they occupy-roughly 85 percent of Berlin’s housing stock is rented by tenants from a landlord-that fix will inevitably mean retooling the rental market.
The spark came in autumn 2018, when rental tenants of 680 apartments on East Berlin’s Karl Marx Allee discovered that their homes were to be sold to a major rental company called Deutsche Wohnen.
Some Berlin boroughs have been buying buildings at risk of sharp rent hikes for a few years now, many of which belong to smaller companies and individuals.
Accordingly, the Center-left Social Democratic Party, which governs Berlin in coalition, has proposed the most radical idea yet: In areas where rents are rising especially fast, the SPD wants to introduce what they call a “Rental lid” that would ban any rent rises whatsoever, both for new and existing rental contracts, in the five years following its implementation.
The idea of a freeze is not just to keep rents manageable, but to give the city breathing space to pursue its policies of new housing construction, so that when the restrictions lift, they do so in a city with altogether more housing available.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life”

The improved design of Uber marks another milestone in the company’s journey to legitimacy.
In her recent book, “Uberland: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Rules of Work,” the technology ethnographer Alex Rosenblat studies the company’s “Algorithmic management,” which forces drivers “To accept the odds that Uber has designed in its favor.” Drivers have no control over pricing, which spikes and dives according to demand.
A study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, published in October, concluded that, from 2010 to 2016, over fifty per cent of the increase in traffic delays in San Francisco were due to Uber and Lyft-and that Uber and Lyft cars constituted an estimated quarter of the total delay on the city’s streets.
Despite all of this, Uber claims to support mass transit.
In some suburbs or city peripheries, where these solutions are most necessary, Uber has become a subsidized alternative to the transit to which it supposedly offers a connection, partnering with municipal and transit agencies to replace their existing bus services.
In midtown Manhattan, where Uber and Lyft drivers spend forty per cent of their time idling without passengers, congestion has reached crisis proportions.
In August, New York’s City Council moved to institute a moratorium on new vehicles and a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers.
A more serious proposal might start with the possibility that Uber is opposed to public transit by design-every ride taken on a subway or bus is competition for its growing supply of cars.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Use these tools to help visualize the horror of rising sea levels”

By now, everyone knows: the climate is changing, sea levels are rising, and the crises are likely to happen sooner than expected.
Still, it’s one thing to know, and another thing to really see these potential disasters.
Luckily, there’s no lack of tools to help the apathetic develop a visceral sense of what could be at stake.
First, Information Is Beautiful has used data from NASA, Sea Level Explorer, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to create the aptly named “When Sea Levels Attack,” which shows how many years are left until major cities are underwater.
Next, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers a tool that helps visualize “Community-level impacts from coastal flooding or sea level rise” up to 10 feet above average high tides.
You can zoom in to a particular area, run different scenarios, and see what happens when the water goes one feet, two feet, 10 feet higher than normal.
The Mapping Choices tool from Climate Central does essentially the same thing with an extra level of guilt because it shows you two scenarios and asks which sea level we will lock in.
Then there’s a new map that lets users peer 60 years into the future of North American cities.

The orginal article.

Summary of “California high-speed rail, explained”

The dual tragedy is that, given the cost overruns and lack of federal support, canceling the project was likely the right call – and yet the basic idea of high-speed passenger rail to connect California’s major cities is a perfectly sound and reasonable one.
The key thing in all three cases was that the route adjustments increased the number of elected officials who could get “a win” from the project, at the expense of serving the project’s core function.
The overall thinking was not that the core SF-LA project was so valuable that California should go do it.
The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.
Newsom – seeing no path to obtaining more federal money for the project and not wanting to invest additional state funds in a bloated program that would count as fellow Democrat Jerry Brown’s legacy rather than his – just pulled the trigger on the unthinkable scale-back, which, if it actually happens, will leave California worse off than if it had never gone down this path before.
Transit and rail projects are saddled with Buy America requirements that ensure they will support more jobs per dollar spent but purchase less transportation benefit per dollar spent.
Banning the import of foreign cars and car parts would, obviously, create far more manufacturing jobs than doing the same for rolling stock – but making cars cheap is a policy priority, while making rail projects cost-effective is not.
America needs to get serious about infrastructure New York City recently completed the most expensive subway project in the history of the world, a brief three-station segment of the Second Avenue line.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon Cancels New York’s HQ2-And That’s a Good Thing”

Executives were reportedly livid at the nomination of the Queens state Senator Michael N. Gianaris, an outspoken opponent of the deal, to a Public Authorities Control Board that would give him power to “Effectively kill the project.” Amazon leaders were grilled at a February city council meeting about the company’s resistance toward unions and the working conditions of its fulfillment centers.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that the retailer was having second thoughts about its New York campus, given the level of opposition from local politicians, advocacy groups, and the media.
Annie Lowrey: Amazon was never going to choose Detroit.
It is not clear that either New York City or Amazon will suffer with this announcement.
New York City doesn’t need an Amazon headquarters to be the global capital of advertising and retail, and Amazon doesn’t need New York subsidies to expand its footprint in the city.
New York City doesn’t have an employment problem; it has a housing-affordability problem.
The original language of the Amazon deal used tax breaks that might have gone to infrastructure or low-income housing investment in the Long Island City region.
The New York City subway is a disaster, and tuition is rising at the City University of New York system.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Super-tall, super-skinny, super-expensive: the ‘pencil towers’ of New York’s super-rich”

Any visitor to New York over the past few years will have witnessed this curious new breed of pencil-thin tower.
Building very tall has been technically possible for some time, but it hasn’t made much commercial sense: the higher you go, the cost of building often exceeds the returns.
“The first time most New Yorkers heard about this new crop of towers was when they saw them under construction,” says Tara Kelly of the Mas.
The code introduced the idea of the “Sky exposure plane”, an imaginary envelope that slopes back from the street at a designated angle, which a building cannot penetrate, forcing towers to step back as they rise.
“Shorter, blockier buildings cast bigger, long-lasting shadows than tall slender buildings, which have longer shadows that move more quickly. If all of the air rights were built out in slender towers, rather than blocky buildings, the shadow impact would be much less. The density is finite, so isn’t it better that it’s used in a taller, slender building, rather than a short, fatter one?”.
“One of the great things about New York, compared to other cities, is that, as a developer, you can rely on as-of-right zoning: there is a certainty about your building rights. What makes the economy go is the fact there isn’t a discretionary review of everything.” When I raise the opacity of air rights transfers, and the problem that no neighbour knows who is selling, or if they will see a 30- or 90-storey tower as a result of their sale, he grins: “That’s part of the game of assemblage.”
In October 2018, a city council member introduced a new bill to require the department of parks and recreation to “Establish a task force to study the effect of shadows cast on public parks by buildings constructed in the vicinity of such parks”, something that Mas has been advocating for years.
Mas is tracking more than 100 proposals for super-tall towers in the pipeline, from a Russian-backed project at 262 Fifth Avenue – likely to block views of the Empire State building from Madison Square Park – to 80 South Street, a vertiginous needle for Lower Manhattan, whose 426,000 sq ftof air rights account for almost half its height.

The orginal article.