1) Up In The Air
2011 closed with news that energy-related carbon emissions had reached record levels — 30.6 gigatonnes — according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). “The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2C target is to be attained,” says the IEA’s Faith Birol. And where are we today?
BostonAirborne, “Elapsed Time: Heavy Traffic” (7 May, 2011)
Did you know that your return seat on one New York-Paris flight produces the same CO2 tonnage as driving your economy car 1250 miles/month for an entire year? Calculate for yourself.
2) Building Pyramids
Transport is not the only source of carbon emissions of course. Staying at home is enough. In fact, the majority of global CO2 comes from our use of lighting and heating. At the beginning of the 21st century, China brought into existence over 64 million new apartment flats. That’s a lot of light and heat. Oh but wait, they were all empty…
SBS Dateline, “China’s Ghost Cities and Malls” (2011)
3) To Fill The Empty Spaces
Tearing down the old houses and temples to erect glistening empty towers… How bleak! Makes you think about that scene in “The Wall” when Pink discovers his wife is cheating on him and suddenly his mind fills with destructive, totalitarian fantasies of covering the earth with concrete and barbed wire… um, doesn’t it?
Alan Parker, Roger Waters, “The Wall” (1982)
4) With Human Shapes
When we replace forests and grassy riverbanks with steel and stone the result is not always so monstrous. Luke Shepard has taken a whole lot of still photos of one of the world’s prettiest urban places.
Luke Shepard, “Le Flâneur (Music: The XX – Intro)” (2011)
5) Juggling Kinematics
The thirteenth-century stone masons who anonymously contributed their artistry to building Notre Dame Cathedral, what did they imagine their 21st century counterparts would be building?
ServoJuggler, “Servo Driven Mechanical Juggler 5-Ball Mode” (May, 2011)
6) Or 100 Hiroshima Bombs
Back in 2011, on the heels of the Fukishima disaster, Germany decided to phase out its 17 nuclear power stations before 2022. France, meanwhile, decided to expand its 58 nuclear power stations further. As a result, there was a whole lot of new and passionate debate about the use of nuclear power. And for good reason, lest we ever forget.
PBSNewsHour, “Revisiting Chernobyl: Epic Proportions” (29 March, 2011)
7) The World’s Newest Dead Zone
Japanese journalist, Tetsuo Jimbo, drove into the Fukishima exclusion zone with geigers and dosimeters. No people, no electricity… just a hell of a lot of invisible radiation. Radiation Dose Chart here.
Mercurio40, “Inside The Fukishima Nuclear Reactor Evacuation Zone With Geigers” (April, 2011)
8) A Monstrous Cover-Up?
Anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helena Caldicott claims Fukishima was much worse than anyone was letting on, worse even than Chernobyl. Was it actually true? Will we ever know? Here’s what she said a few days after the nuclear meltdown in Japan.
Dr. Helena Caldicott, “Fukushima Nuclear Disaster” (18 March, 2011)
Worrying… Sarah Palin, even she looked a little worried. Anything to say about all this?
wreckandsalvage, “Palin’s Breath” (2011)
10) When The Levee Is Dry
5000 people in Grand Rapids, Michigan got together to make a lipdub video to show — so they claimed — that their city was not “dying,” as suggested in a Newsweek article. Certain cities are dying, and perhaps Grand Rapids was one of them, but in the meantime, its citizens were dancing… while good old boys are drinking whiskey and rye.
Rob Bliss, “The Grand Rapids LipDub” (22 May, 2011)