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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Save the planet Thursday!

+ Atlantic Cities has a nice rundown of 11 great documentaries now streaming on Netflix about urbanism and sustainability. I've only seen The Pruitt-Igoe Myth and Carbon Nation, which are both amazing, but I assume the rest are really good too.

+ In some parts of the country, pieces of land have already opened up and only await a few chance seeds to blow in and begin the process of converting the rugged landscape into lush forest. Greenland will soon live up to its name.

+ This is an old link (from 2009), but I heard about Bogota's amazing bus system in Carbon Nation and thought this was a good series of pics that highlight how unique it is. Basically, the buses run on special lanes that have no other traffic, so they can run more efficiently, more like trains than buses. This allows the city to have a more versatile and dynamic public transportation system than those with traditional bus or rail lines.

+ Under closer examination the events in Syria appear to stem from far more complex set of pressures, beyond religious tension and government brutality, with its roots in the availability of a natural resource – water. This is worrying as decreasing water availability is far from a localised issue, it is a systemic risk across the Middle East and North Africa that is likely to be further exacerbated by climate change. Recent study finds that water may be the underlying cause of the Syrian civil war.

+ The Guardian profiles a possible means to helping ease water scarcity.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cocaine is a hell of a drug

Ahhhh Syria. Is it even worth commenting on the growing crap circus that this has all become? I'm not entirely certain it is. On the micro level, what is happening in Syria is clearly horrible, and Americans are right to wring their hands and exclaim how terrible it is that people have to die. This is the correct reaction, and warranted emotions. But on the macro level, the hypocrisy of getting involved in Syria is mind-boggling. For one, you have the obviously troubled history of the US getting involved in wars for "humanitarian" reasons. Humanitarianism is probably the worst reason to get involved in an armed conflict, if for no other reason than it opens such a gigantic can of worms that it's best to just leave the top on. Why get involved in Syria when there is terrible suffering happening in North Korea or China or several Latin American countries or Sub-Saharan Africa? Why haven't we invaded Mexico over the thousand women who have died just across the border in Juarez that are so obviously connected to the drug trade? Since we can't possibly save the world from everything then why get involved in Syria? Furthermore, we have practically no history of actually achieving any of our humanitarian goals when we get involved in these sorts of conflicts. We tend to just make things worse, or end up as the bad guy so that one side or both aim for us instead of their original target.