WELCOME TO FRIDAY ROUNDUP on Green News Update. In our inaugural news roundup, we’re offering a batch of “ups and downs” – sea level rising, Detroit’s Shinola winning hearts and minds, bicycle ownership falling, a Brooklyn skyscraper rising, and more!
⇑ Sea Level Rising Faster than in Past Two Millennia: Sea levels may be rising faster than at any time in the last 28 centuries– that’s from before the Roman Empire, according to multiple papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and at Climate Central. Imagine this: the ocean could rise 3-4 feet by the year 2100 as a result of ocean warming from emissions by burning fossil fuels. Scientists used statistical models to reconstruct the history of sea levels over time and make projections. A related study found that tidal flooding along the U.S. coast – e.g. Charleston SC, Norfolk VA; Miami Beach — will likely occur as a regular event, even without sea level rise on good-weather days. ( Read the New York Times) Full study download
A related study by Princeton NJ-based Climate Central (Nov 2015) casts a wider net : Carbon emissions causing 4 degrees Celsius of warming (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) — a business-as- usual scenario — “could lock in enough eventual sea level rise to submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people globally.”
“Among all nations…China has the most to lose… with 145 million citizens today on implicated land. …Twelve other nations have more than 10 million people living on implicated land under 4 °C warming — India, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Japan, the United States, Philippines, Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Netherlands, in descending order of total threats.” Download Mapping Choices: Carbon, Climate and Rising Seas (Read the Climate Central study)
⇓ World Bicycle Ownership Down! What’s going on ? Only 4 in 10 households worldwide own a bicycle according to a study that looked at ownership patterns in 150 countries between 1989 and 2012. “Bicycle ownership was highest in Northern Europe and lowest in West, Central and North Africa, and Central Asia.” While there are an estimated 580 million bicycles in private households, it appears that ownership in China is way down – perhaps because of rising wealth. Other countries experiencing economic gains seem to favor automobiles and motorized scooters . Read the article.
⇑Bicycles are up in Detroit’s Shinola Factory: Just 5 years old, the bike and watch manufacturer is doing just fine with $60 million in revenues in 2014. What’s great about Shinola (which acquired the former shoe polish name for its brand) – it has brought jobs, manufacturing and pride back to Motor City, plus retail outlets throughout the U.S. Former President Bill Clinton bought 14 watches last year! The design team is housed in General Motors’ former Argonaut Research Building in midtown Detroit. Says Shinola: “We are a true manufacturing company, built not by the things we make, but by the people who make them.” The latest evidence is an 8-page, full-color, advertising supplement in The New York Times with a shout-out to its employees and products. Watch the video or read the New York Times story
⇑ ⇓Brooklyn’s Tallest Building: A proposal is underway to build Brooklyn’s tallest tower – the Manhattan effect is swinging across the East River. Developers propose a 73-story tower (that’s 1,066 feet high) which is twice as tall as anything in or near Downtown Brooklyn. The design is by SHoP Architects and would contain 500 rental apartment units. [For comparison: A 1428-foot condo tower is rising at the 57th Street site of the former Steinway Building.]
Here’s the hitch: the 1908 landmark Brooklyn Dime Savings Bank, which sits next door, would be incorporated into the project , both for transfer of its 300,00 sf of air rights and use of its beautiful Beaux-Arts spaces for retail. It’s possible the Municipal Art Society (MAS), activist for preserving the city’s landmarks and assets, will put up a stink before the Landmarks Preservation Commission which has to OK the deal. The question is: where will the supertower trend stop? The MAS CEO says: “But does the public really understand the cumulative effect of all these towers…on the public realm?” Read the New York Times article
⇑ Record Bird Counts in 2016: The Feb 12-15 bird census–a worldwide event popularly known as the Great Backyard Bird Count—will wrap up March 1 when the last bird list is entered online. The 2016 results so far beat the 2015 totals, which were also record breakers. This year: of the 10,000+ species worldwide, some 5,545 were sighted, and a total of 18,116,000 birds were counted. Among the top 10 countries participating, India recorded the most species (728), Mexico was second in posting 684 species, and the U.S. had the most checklists submitted (123,004). Learn more
Why is the GBBC important ? Birds are an essential part of the web of life. They eat prodigious numbers of insects and spiders; they distribute seeds by eating fruit from trees and shrubs; they even help pollinate plants – and many species are in trouble. Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada are organizers of the annual census. Save the date – May 14– for the second annual Global Big Day, when birdwatchers worldwide will try to find as many species as possible on that day. Get involved, it’s easy.
Don’t Miss! Through April 10: Photo Ark exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC. National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore’s spectacular visual catalogue of 5,000 rare and endangered species is a moving experience – it takes about 2 hours to watch the continuously moving display. It’s Sartore’s mission to build a “photo ark” of 12,000 rare and endangered species in his lifetime – before they go extinct. See the Green News Update story on Sartore’s beautiful photography books.
More news next week on Green News Update’s Friday Roundup! Come back for a heads-up on the Environmental Film Festival. the Uranium Film Festival and the opening of the Met Breuer in NYC.