Arcology Related News and Commentary for 01.11.14


Since I feel like I have become too much of a news consumer of information and that it has become like an addiction, I have been trying to shift the dynamic a bit and make it a focus to write about what I read more. Rather than just add my voice to the comments section of a page I am viewing or post it to my Facebook Page, I am trying to make a concerted effort to compile information into my blog in capsule form. I do try to keep an Arcology or Arcosanti theme, but I am also casting a wide net and am adding things that might be worthy of consideration within an Arcology themed project/ecocity.

Please feel free to send me anything you have and or are thinking about and I will post here: buderman@gmail.com

Here are some of the headlines and issues I am looking at now…

Battery Technology Advances Seek to Make Renewables More Economically Viable – As we consider a Green Arcology, we see that one of the challenges of renewables like Wind and Solar are that they produce an inconsistent and uneven power supply that is subject to the whims of nature. This is a major reason that many mainstream thinkers have been reluctant to consider nenewables as a realistic strategy for providing energy as an alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear – renewables lack the power intensity and reliability of conventional fuel technologies.

What’s interesting is that there has not been more creative thinking of how to solve this problem on the large scale given what we know about existing energy storage technologies. There are two examples that come to mind:

  1. Pump back systems that use surplus power/renewable power available at non peak times of the day to pump power water into reservoirs.
  2. Using molten salts to store excess power at solar thermal plants during for use as back up power for cloudy days and nights.

Now another possibility is emerging the development of batteries with a high enough efficiency and power density to hold and store electric power as reported by MIT’s Technology Review.

Europe Moves Forward in Reforms to Keep Car Culture in Check – In Europe we seek continued progress to pull back Car Culture in ways that we in the US could only dream of. Here it is cited the case of Hamburg where they are gradually closing streets and making them bike and pedestrian only thoroughfares with plans to make the urban core car free in 20 years: 

Closing strategic streets to car traffic and limiting other streets and squares to pedestrians expedites the process. By fanning out from the center and linking existing green spots in the outlying areas, the city can cut down on the number of vehicles substantially. The ultimate hope is that the next generation of residents and visitors will be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and by foot.

“Other cities, including London, have green rings,” says city spokeswoman Angelika Fritsch, “but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city centre. In 15 to 20 years you’ll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.”

Arcosanti is briefly mentioned in the article in a paragraph offering examples of projects around the world that have sought to offer alternatives to the car in their urban development models.

Read more at http://planetsave.com/2014/01/10/hamburg-will-extend-bikeped-routes-core-outskirts/#826qLWGMFqfS0jsZ.99

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Seeks to Commercialize Space Travel – There was a time when Paolo Soleri spent a considerable sum of time designing plans for space-state Arcologies. Its possible that research into how to use live sustainably in space can lead also to important considerations about how to live sustainably on this planet. While we still seem some time away from self-contained permanent space settlements its encouraging to see that some of the more positive aspects of capitalism are evident in the design of more financially viable and efficient systems for transporting people to space.

I believe this could lead to a breakthrough that might encourage investments in space travel and research that could lead to the more rapid colonization of space. Controversial to some this idea is an attempt to develop a disruptive approach to make space exploration once again a viable and vibrant enterprise. One of the key issues was that NASA and the other space programs invested heavily in static technologies that required expensive propulsion systems and capsules for travel to space.

Branson and Elon Musk are offering a piggyback model that uses conventional aircraft to launch the spacecraft. It seems like a no brainer that this makes more sense than expensive, heavy and cumbersome rocket propulsion systems. Yet it took a while for someone to gut up the courage to invest in these alternative pathways as these two capitalist’s have. According to recent reports, Branson seems to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Part of the financing for this project came through 80 million in deposited by the uber rich who want to eventually travel in space on Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

The concerns are that financing space travel for the rich will make it another exclusive rich person only activity. Commercialization of space also raises concerns about who owns space and the possible challenges of regulating a commercialized space program. Another concern evident through my research was that NBC Universal apparently has a contract with Virgin to promote this project which I think exposes a key problem with corporate media comgromerates – news becomes hostage to the bias that arises from contracts developed by their parent companies. http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/01/10/virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-reaches-record-height-in-latest-test/

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