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287 coastal energy facilities at risk from sea-level rise

Sea levels are rising, which means that there's a greater risk of floods that reach well over the high tide mark. By 2030, the risk that coastal floods will go four feet or more over high tide will have doubled, Climate Central reports. And in that zone lie 287 energy facilities -- power plants, natural gas facilities, and oil and gas refineries -- that now stand a greater chance of getting an unexpected bath.

The state most likely to be screwed by this state of affairs is, of course, Louisiana. Not only is it full of oil and gas infrastructure, that infrastructure has been built on low-lying ground (which they have a lot of down there). More than half of the at-risk facilities that Climate Central identified are in Louisiana.

Read more: Infrastructure



Millennials love cities because they provide the one thing their boomer parents couldn’t give them

Why is Gen Y migrating to the cities? Because millennials are craving the things they didn’t get in their suburban upbringings, like connectedness and adventure. Basically, they’re throwing off their cul-de-sac childhoods and seeking out authenticity.

Nathan Norris, urban infrastructure planner, lays it all out at the PlaceShakers blog:


America’s largest urban Superfund site gets cute new mascot

Now that gentrification has come to the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, N.Y., it's time to clean it up! The EPA is on the case, although it's going to take decades to cleanse this narrow cul-de-sac of a waterway so foul that nothing can live in its opaque waters.

In order to get people excited about the process of turning the canal into something that will stop depressing local property values, the Gowanus Community Advisory Group has decided that the project needs a mascot, reports Gary Buiso at the New York Post.


Detroit residents are turning the city into suburbs

Detroit is undergoing a remarkable process of un-building, its residents literally transforming its denser neighborhoods into sparse suburbs. It's the inevitable consequence of the shrinking of a once-great city.

By estimates of the city and various experts, about 40 square miles of the city's 139 square miles are vacant today -- empty fields from which all structures have been removed.


How successful cities are like marijuana

Photo by Spreng Ben.

If you've got an acre of land, and a magical get-out-of-jail-free card, which cash crop do you grow -- wheat, soybeans, or marijuana?

That’s a good metaphor for a city's decision to invest in its downtown versus sprawl, says Joe Minicozzi, the new projects director at Public Interest Projects. Minicozzi uses the pot-vs.-soybeans hypothetical because people intuitively grasp the value of cash crops -- that an acre of high-grade weed throws off 10 or 20 times as much income as a food crop.


Kate Zidar: A sewershed grows in Brooklyn

Grist is proud to present the Change Gang — profiles of people who are leading change on the ground toward a more sustainable society and a greener planet. Some we’ve written about before; some are new to our pages. Some you’ll have heard of; most you probably won’t. Know someone we should add to the Change Gang? Tell us why.

In 2012, this is how Brooklyn rolls: On an early spring evening in March, 60-70 people gathered at the Brooklyn Brewery to hear a talk about what to do about sewage overflow into the notoriously polluted Newtown Creek. Urban planner Kate Zidar, the executive director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, recalled the meeting as the "nerdiest event you can imagine."

"The first speaker went through reams of water quality data," says Zidar, "and then there was me talking about a really obscure planning process. And it was packed."

These days, it seems like you can hardly go one subway stop on the F train without slamming into yet another Brooklyn activist determined to turn one of the most metropolitan regions in the world into a clean, green, ecologically sustainable wonderland. Kate Zidar is a perfect example.

A one-time biologist, Zidar had an epiphany in Ecuador a decade ago while studying carabid beetles, a carnivorous rain forest insect.

"The typical conservation biology story is that you seek out these wild spaces and study them with this idea of needing to save them -- save the rainforest or save the whales or whatever," says Zidar. "But I found myself more observant of the fact that in these wild spaces there were humans who were struggling with their basic needs like food, shelter and employment, and how that impacted the ecosystem. And that's how I got interested in urban planning."

Zidar moved to New York, got a master's degree in urban planning from the Pratt Institute, and speedily coined a new term in the title of her master's thesis: "The Citizen's Guide to the Sewershed."

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure


One mile on a bike is a $.42 economic gain to society, one mile driving is a $.20 loss

Photo by Mikael Colville-Andersen.

Copenhagen, the bicycle-friendliest place on the planet, publishes a biannual Bicycle Account, and buried in its pages is a rather astonishing fact, reports Andy Clarke, president of the league of American Bicyclists:

“When all these factors are added together the net social gain is DKK 1.22 per cycled kilometer. For purposes of comparison there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69 per kilometer driven by car.” 1.22 Danish crowns is about 25 cents and a kilometer is 6/10 of a mile, so we are talking about a net economic gain to society of 42 cents for every bicycle mile traveled. That’s a good number to have in your back pocket.


Aging boomers who can’t drive will be trapped in unwalkable cities of their own making

Judging by how pedestrian-unfriendly the average American city has become, all our aging parents apparently enjoy being prisoners in their own homes, reports the AP. Because, oops: There comes a point when you can't legally drive any longer. And if you depend on your car, that means you’ll have to … depend on your children instead. Fuck.


Wooden skyscrapers are like log cabins on steroids

No, this is not the world’s biggest Jenga game. (Image by Michael Green Architects.)

When most folks think “wooden building,” they conjure up images of rustic log cabins or ye olde fashioned outhouses. Architect Michael Green wants to whittle something decidedly more modern out of wood: skyscrapers.