Saturday, June 23, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
China To Build 220-Story Tower
And they say they're going to build it in just 90 days by using prefabricated parts partially assembled off-site.
The building will be 10m taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the tallest manmade structure on earth. SkyCity One, with a rather imposing design, will contain 1,610,000m2 across 220 storeys, containing a mix of residential, commercial and retail space and capacity for between 70,000 to 120,000 people. BSB estimates the cost of the project to be roughly £400 million, a surprisingly low figure considering it cost £967 million for the Burj Khalifa, and other megatall buildings around the world tend to have budgets around the £1 billion mark. The company claims that their unique construction method, with 95 percent of the building completed before they've even broken ground on the foundations, will keep costs down. BSB has experience throwing up tall buildings in a short period of time, as this video of a 30 storey skyscraper built by the company in just 15 days near a lake in Hunan province attests.RELATED: Dubai's 206-story Burj Khalifa, which is still mostly free of tenants, took four years to construct. The building's sway at the upper floors is reportedly 5.5 feet. The 102-story Empire State Building, by comparison, only sways about three inches.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Posted: 17 Jun 2012 05:22 AM PDTby Jesse Prentice-Dunn, via The Sierra Club
If some House Republican negotiators get their way, safe biking and walking could be increasingly hard to find. More and more, Americans are biking and walking to work, on errands, and for fun. Just last year, cyclists saved $4.6 billion by biking instead of driving. Nationwide, biking and walking account for almost 12% of all trips, yet biking and walking infrastructure receives less than 2% of all federal transportation funding.
What we aren’t paying for in safe biking and walking infrastructure, we are paying for in lives. According to a recent study by Transportation for America, from 2000-2009, more than 47,700 pedestrians were killed and another 688,000 were injured. However, seeing how biking and walking can make communities more vibrant and strengthen local economies, cities and towns are increasingly investing in sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths.
But as Senate and House negotiators enter the final three weeks of negotiations over a transportation bill, House Republicans are demanding that the Senate drop provisions that will make biking and walking safer across the country.
For some context, with a broad bipartisan majority, the Senate passed a bill that would fund our nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems at current levels through 2013. This comprehensive bill would preserve 1.9 million jobs throughout the country and create another one million jobs through innovative financing.
Unable to pass a comprehensive transportation bill, the House of Representatives instead passed a three-month extension of current law and then tacked on three anti-environmental poison pills – automatically permitting the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, preempting EPA from requiring the safe disposal of toxic coal ash, and gutting our nation’s environmental review process which ensures the public has a say in large transportation projects. Notably, the House of Representatives passed absolutely nothing relating to biking and walking. Now negotiators for the House and Senate are exchanging proposals in order to pass a bill before current law expires on June 30.
One particularly egregious demand from House Republican negotiators is that the Senate eliminate the Safe Routes to School program. Established by the 2005 transportation bill, this program provides grants to programs that help children around the country safely walk to school. Talk about a case of throwing our nation’s school kids under the bus.
Another program under fire, formerly known as the Transportation Enhancements program, has historically provided states and cities with the majority of their funding for safe biking and walking infrastructure. In the Senate bill, this program was combined with the Recreational Trails and Safe Routes to School program into a new “Additional Activities” program. Concerned that local governments would have a hard time competing for these funds, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), brokered a bipartisan compromise which would allow states to opt out of the program, but sets aside a portion of funds that cities, towns and rural areas could compete for.
House Republicans initially demanded that funding the “Additional Activities” program be eliminated entirely, but were rebuffed by the Senate. After all, a new survey shows that 83% of Americans support maintaining or increasing funding for biking and walking, including 80% of Republicans. Now, House Republican negotiators are demanding that states be able to opt out of the Additional Activities program, essentially denying cities and towns the ability to compete for funds that could improve safe biking and walking in their communities.
As pressure mounts for Congress to pass a transportation bill before the current law expires on June 30, it is critical that you call and email your Representative and tell them that you support funding for safe biking and walking.
Jesse Prentice-Dunn, Washington Representative for the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign. This piece was originally published at The Sierra Club and was reprinted with permission.
Posted: 17 Jun 2012 09:23 AM PDT
By Neven Acropolis
Arctic sea ice area for June in recent years. Source: Cryosphere Today
If you want to mislead people into thinking that there is nothing weird going on in the Arctic, you have to do it during winter. In winter things almost look normal on some graphs, with gaps between trend lines and long-term averages not as ridiculously big as during spring and summer.
If you’re lucky, anomalous weather patterns can make those trend lines come real close to the long-term average, and you’ll have a couple of weeks of shouting ‘recovery’, ridiculing scientists and suggesting graphs are being cooked. It’s an annual ritual on pseudo-skeptic blogs, which is only logical. The Arctic is becoming ever more problematic for their life work, ie denying AGW could ever be a problem and thus delaying any meaningful action on mitigating the consequences of AGW. Thank God water still freezes in winter.
But what happens in winter is only interesting in so far as it influences the melting season that comes after it. The fact that this year saw a late finish to the freezing season, with an extreme expansion of sea ice into the Bering Sea, was far from irrelevant, but it didn’t tell the whole story either. Another part of that story was covered in a guest blog on ClimateProgress in February (Arctic Sea Ice Update: Spectacular and Ominous), and the whole story as I saw it was told in the 2011/2012 Winter Analysis on the Arctic Sea Ice blog. It quite simply came down to this: “Sea ice on the Atlantic side of the Arctic looks vulnerable, sea ice on the Pacific side should be thicker.”
Sea ice extent maximum on the left and how it looks now on the right (source: NSIDC)
The melting season is well underway now and in the last two weeks sea ice has been disappearing so fast that 2012 is leading all other years on practically all sea ice extent and area graphs. Take for instance the top graph I’ve made, based on Cryosphere Today sea ice area data.
That looks pretty spectacular, doesn’t it? Sea ice area has never been so low for this date in the satellite record, not even close to it. 2012 has over half a million of square kilometres less ice than record minimum years 2007 and 2011.
There was a distinct possibility this would happen, although I didn’t expect it to happen quite this early. But now that it has happened, it’s not difficult to see what the causes are. First of all, the extra ice in the Bering Sea that caused the late maximum, was wafer-thin and so has now virtually disappeared (I compared this year’s situation with previous years in this post on the ASI blog). All the easy ice is as gone as the easy oil.
Second, that vulnerability on the Siberian side of the Arctic is becoming ever more visible, with the Northern Sea Route possibly opening up for commercial shipping very early this year. Here’s a comparison to previous years for the western part of the Northern Sea Route (the eastern side doesn’t look so great either):
A third reason for the recent rapid decline is the widespread formation of melt ponds on ice floes. These are fooling satellite sensors into believing that there is open water where there actually isn’t, causing sea ice area to go down faster than sea ice extent. The NSIDC FAQ page explains it well:
A simplified way to think of extent versus area is to imagine a slice of Swiss cheese. Extent would be a measure of the edges of the slice of cheese and all of the space inside it. Area would be the measure of where there is cheese only, not including the holes. That is why if you compare extent and area in the same time period, extent is always bigger.One could say those melt ponds are making the trend lines artificially low, especially on sea ice area graphs. Although this is true, it isn’t the only reason for the recent nosedive and at the same time it’s an indication of how much the Sun is beating down on the Arctic right now. We are approaching Summer Solstice, meaning that the Sun shines practically all day in these northern latitudes, and thus heat will accumulate everywhere where there are clear skies and no ice to reflect the incoming sunshine.
This effect has started to become visible on the sea surface temperature anomalies all around the Arctic:
The water seems to be warming up big time in the polynyas that recently opened up, especially in the Kara and Barents Seas, that are ‘coincidentally’ thought to be a source for some of the blocking patterns that cause outbursts of cold air to spill out from the Arctic and cause extreme winter conditions further down on the Northern Hemisphere (also known as WACC, Warm Arctic Cold Continents).
Source: Danish Meteorological Institute
One could also say that the stage is being set for the latter part of the melting season, as sea surface temperatures play a big role in the final outcome of the melting season. But that’s a worry for later. What can we expect in the short-term? Will trend lines continue to plummet?
Short answer: I don’t think they will. The weather conditions that let all that built-up melting potential come to fruition, are in the process of switching. And although this means that those Siberian Seas are also going to get a good dose of sunshine, and the Northwest Passage (which is still chock-full of ice right now) will start opening up as well, the speed of the decline will probably level off a bit on those sea ice extent and area graphs. Until weather conditions switch again, of course.
Because if one thing is clear after the first phase of the melting season, it’s that there’s a very high chance of records being broken again if this year’s weather conditions resemble those of last year or 2010. If they resemble those of 2007, the year of the perfect storm, it will become clearer than ever that something weird and potentially dangerous is going on in the Arctic.
I’ll report again if and when something worthwhile happens. In the meantime go to the Arctic Sea Ice blog if you want to read more regular and detailed updates. And check the daily updated graphs, maps and webcams on the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website.
– by Neven Acropolis, who oversees the Arctic Sea Ice blog.