cities

New survey to record the sound of our cities

Brendan Montague
| 2nd July 2018
How does your city sound? Are we even aware of the noises that surround us on a daily basis? A new project is asking residents of Edinburgh, Sheffield and Brighton and Hove to take part in a survey of sound with the hope it'll help preserve areas of quiet and reduce noise pollution. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports

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The future of cities? Image: Paul Jones / Northumbria, Author provided.

How to embrace urban living, but avoid an apocalypse: Organicities are the future

Paul Jones
Northumbria University
| 31st May 2017
By shifting from globalisation to localisation, and creating smaller, self-sufficient communities within sustainable developments, cities could regain their equilibrium, writes Paul Jones. From where we stand today, the Organicity may sound like a Utopian dream. But if we're to avoid an urban apocalypse, we're going to need strong alternative visions, to change the way we imagine and plan for the cities of the future. Too good to be true? Or the way to human survival?

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Skyscrape of Dubai, seen from the beach. Photo: ZeNahla via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Concrete, or beaches? World's sand running out as global construction booms

Nick Meynen
| 9th May 2017
A crucial component of concrete, sand is vital to the global construction industry, writes Nick Meynen. China alone is importing a billion tonnes of sand a year, and its increasing scarcity is leading to large scale illegal mining and deadly conflicts. With ever more sand fetched from riverbeds, shorelines and sandbanks, roads and bridges are being undermined and beaches eroded. And the world's sand wars are only set to worsen.

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Last November 17, 2,000 police rushed onto farmland to enforce land measurement for Kertajati Airport. Photo: Walhi Jawa Barat.

Indonesia: Villagers resist eviction for 50 sq.km airport city on their land

Rose Bridger
| 5th April 2017
Ten villages and surrounding farmland have already been wiped from the map for a 50 sq.km airport and surrounding 'aeropolis' or airport city in West Java, Indonesia, writes Rose Bridger. And while investors are offered an 'attractive incentives plan', villagers are subject to fierce state repression and brutality. Now only a single village remains standing, but residents continue to resist eviction and demand an end to the project.

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Aviation or ice shelves? Thje choice is ours. Photo: NASA’s DC-8 flies over the crack forming across the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, 26th October 2011; by Jefferson Beck / NASA via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY).

Heathrow 2.0: a 'sustainable airport'? Or alternative facts on planes and pollution?

David Howarth
University of Essex
Steven Griggs
De Montfort University
| 17th March 2017
The facts are simple: a new London runway means more planes, more noise, more pollution and more global warming, write David Howarth & Steven Griggs. The 'Heathrow 2.0' initiative's conflation of 'sustainability' and 'sustainable growth' and its avoidance of climate change reek of Trumpian 'alternative facts'.

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Officially designated as a 'rural road': the M25 Dartford Crossing on the QE2 Bridge. Photo: highwaysengland via Flickr (CC BY).

Britain's eight-lane 'rural road' evades air quality reporting

Keith Taylor
| 7th March 2017
The government's 'misclassification' of an eight-lane M25 road bridge over the river Thames East of London as a 'rural road' meant they did not have to report the illegal levels of pollution found there, writes Keith Taylor - getting off the UK off the hook for a 17th breach of EU air quality standards. What an unfortunate error!

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On Green Belt land in Sussex, near London - far too valuable to allow house-builders to let rip all over it! Photo: Jason Jones via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Green belt must not be sacrificed to unplanned housing

Alister Scott
Northumbria University
| 8th February 2017
The green belt is part of the critical green infrastructure that delivers multiple benefits for cities, writes Alister Scott. It provides space for recreation, biodiversity and farms supplying local food. It protects us from flooding and drought, improves air quality and mitigates the urban heat island effect. In short, it's far too valuable to allow developers to build all over it!

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Sadiq Khan speaking against Heathrow expansion at a protest at Parliament Square, London, 10th October 2015. Photo: Steve Eason via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

London's 'Greenest Mayor ever'? Sadiq Khan still has a lot to prove

Caroline Russell
| 30th September 2016
London Mayor Sadiq Khan promised electors that he would be the 'Greenest Mayor ever'. In spite of his apparent support for a new Thames road crossing in East London and an expanded London City Airport, he still has huge opportunities to make good his pledge. And Green Assembly Members will be working hard to make sure he does.

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The water may be dirty - but the heat is still valuable! Photo: susan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Let's reclaim the free energy in our sewers - we have the technology!

Jan Hofman
Laura Piccinini
| 9th September 2016
First we heat up cold water for baths, showers and washing, write Jan Hofman & Laura Piccinini. Then we chuck all that precious heat down the plughole. So how about recycling our waste heat to warm up water on its way to the boiler or hot water tank, cutting bills and emissions? Or on a larger scale, use the sewage from entire communities as a free energy source for heat pumps?

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A haven of peace, tranquillity and biodiversity in the heart of London: the wildlife garden at the Natural History Museum. Photo: Cary Grant.

Natural History Museum must not destroy its Wildlife Garden

Gary Grant
| 2nd June 2016
A proposed redesign of the Natural History Museum's grounds in London would cause some unfortunate collateral damage, writes Gary Grant - the destruction of the Museum's 21 year-old wildlife garden, an ecological jewel in the heart of London which features over 3,000 species of plant and animal in just one lovingly tended acre. The Museum must think again!

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Cyclists stage Die-In at Mansion House in June 2015, following death at Bank junction. Photo: Stop Killing Cyclists.

This deadly pollution must stop! London cyclists rally for health and climate

Donnachadh McCarthy
| 20th April 2016
Stop Killing Cyclists are staging a protest in London on 27th April to demand an end to the UK's intolerable air pollution, writes Donnachadh McCarthy. With an estimated 40,000 people dying every year from filthy air, much of it caused by diesel cars, all are welcome to join in, denounce the government's 'polluters' friend' policies, and insist on swift action to stop the needless deaths.

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Too bad about the Ferrari. But far more serious is the health damage caused by pollution from HGVs and other diesel vehicles, which is causing a surplus mortality of some 40,000 people a year across the UK. Photo: Paul Townsend via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

To clean up air pollution we must dump diesel - and here's how

Richard Howard
Policy Exchange
| 11th March 2016
Low Emissions Zones have their place in cleaning up the UK's worst air pollution hotspots, writes Richard Howard. But we also need to adopt fiscal measures to encourage a shift away from diesel vehicles, at once delivering cleaner air, increased tax revenues, and lower carbon emissions.

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US suburbia: alright for some. But access to it was regulated along strictly racial lines. Mid 20th century calendar illustration. Photo: wackystuff via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Racist housing? How postwar suburban development led to today's inner-city lead poisoning

Leif Fredrickson
University of Virginia
| 7th March 2016
The lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan is just the tip of a vast iceberg of lead contamination afflicting mainly urban black communities, writes Leif Fredrickson. A rigid 'race bar' on postwar suburban housing and mortgages left black families in inner cities, exposed to flaking lead paint in run down housing, leaded gasoline residues and lead pipework. Now is the time to correct this shocking historic injustice.

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London's air pollution is so bad, it can be seen on occasion. Photo: David Holt via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Five ways to slash London's lethal air pollution

John Weeks
| 24th February 2016
Today's threats of legal action by ClientEarth against the UK Government highlight the problem of London's poisonous air, which is killing some 10,000 people a year, writes John Weeks. Fortunately there are simple, low cost, effective measures that could be taken to bring about big improvements to the city's air quality, fast.

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Lima's 'wall of shame'. Photo: Belen Desmaison, Author provided.

Lima's 'Wall of Shame': the gated communities that construct Peru's inequality

Camillo Boano
Belen Desmaison
| 24th February 2016
Just as rich and poor are separated by walls of money, the Latin American trend is to add physical walls to keep wealthy and deprived communities entirely apart, write Camillo Boano & Belen Desmaison. On the one side people enjoy lavish homes, security, public services and piped water. On the other residents live in tiny shacks built of scraps, in a desert landscape ruled by criminals.

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Demolition under way at the the Acorn Estate, built from 1957-1963 by F.O. Hayes, Peckham, South London, in 2007. Photo: Steve Cadman via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Don't bulldoze Britain's brutalist housing - it's culture you can live in!

Sebastian Messer
Northumbria University
| 12th February 2016
Britain's 20th century architecture is in danger of obliteration, writes Sebastian Messer, with a 'new brutalism' that holds that socially deprived council estates are fit only for demolition. But these buildings are an important part of our cultural heritage, and more than that, they provide affordable housing to millions of people.

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View from Diyarbakir hotel window, with bullet hole. Photo: William John Gauthier via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Turkey's war on Kurdish cities - clearing the way for 'urban regeneration'?

Defne Kadıoğlu Polat
| 3rd February 2016
Erdogan's horrific 'war on terror' in the Kurdish cities of Eastern Turkey may have a silver lining, writes Defne Kadıoğlu Polat - at least for property developers and ruling party insiders. Plans are already under way for 'urban renewal' projects that will see the valuable real estate cleansed of buildings and people by the war developed into luxury apartments and shopping malls.

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Cyclists in the Copenhagen rush hour. Photo: MarkA via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

From Copenhagen to Delhi, 'smart cities' call for smart solutions - like cycling

Colin Todhunter
| 11th January 2016
The world's big cities are choking with pollution and endless traffic jams, writes Colin Todhunter - except one. Copenhagen, faced with these problems half a century ago, decided to act. Now it is showing the world that cycling is not just the basis of a sustainable transport strategy, but is key to making our cities clean, green, human and livable. May the global revolution unfold ...

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Doing the right thing: an old landfill site in Birmingham's Selly Oak Battery Park being dug out prior to development for housing. Photo: Elliott Brown via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Zane: did Cameron order cover-up on landfill cyanide death of 7-year old?

Paul Mobbs
| 14th December 2015
The apparent conspiracy by the UK government and its agencies to conceal the real cause of death of 7-year old Zane Gbangbola may go right up to Prime Minister David Cameron, writes Paul Mobbs. He was chair of the COBRA emergency committee at the time when it appears to have held back the truth that he was killed by cyanide from the toxic landfill site his home was built over.

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New building in Masdar City with an old twist. Photo: André Diogo Moecke via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Traditional architecture offers relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf

Amin Al-Habaibeh
Nottingham Trent University
| 8th November 2015
As temperatures soar in the Persian Gulf, modern buildings rely on energy-guzzling air-conditioning to maintain tolerable temperatures, writes Amin Al-Habaibeh. But traditional buildings stay cool passively using shade; wind and thermally driven ventilation; and naturally insulating, reflective materials. For a sustainable future, modern architects must revive the ancient knowledge.

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Plane coming in to land at Heathrow. 70% of flights are taken by just 15% of the population, while over half don't travel at all in any single year. Photo: Roy via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Instead of airport expansion, a 'frequent flyer tax'

Keith Taylor MEP
| 10th October 2015
The demand for ever more air travel and new runways comes from a small minority of frequent flyers, writes Keith Taylor - the 15% who take 70% of flights. So we can reduce that demand with a frequent flyer tax - while making it cheaper for ordinary families to enjoy an annual holiday abroad.

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