the blog posts

we need more earth

Earth Overshoot Day. Heard of it? I hadn't. Not until very recently. It is the day when, according to the Global Footprint Network, "humanity's annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year." 

This year, Earth Overshoot Day was 13 August. In 2000, it was during the month of October. It is a record you don't want to continue to break but, notwithstanding the Rio Earth Summit and the "sustainable development" vocabulary that is part of everyday life now, apparently we will. 

 source: global footprint network

source: global footprint network

The impact of this ecological overspend, as the Global Footprint Network terms it, is evident to anyone paying attention. Drought. Water shortages. Deforestation. Extreme weather events. As you can guess, humanity's carbon footprint is a significant part of the problem. The irreverent conclusion, therefore, is that we need more earth. China needs 2.7 Chinas. Japan needs 5.5 Japans. Greece needs 2.6 Greeces (as if the country didn't have enough problems already). In fact, we need 1.6 earths to support current collective ecological consumption. 

Where is Bermuda in this mix? I would imagine somewhere worse than Japan. Our ecological consumption is going to be higher than our domestic biocapacity - and I make that statement boldly without checking any facts or figures since we import just about everything, and consume much in the way of fossil fuels in the process.

Is change possible? Yes it is. If we, the 'global we' that is, can reduce our carbon emissions 30% by 2030, which is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report recommends (see previous blog post), we can push Earth Overshoot Day back to 16 September (Global Footprint Network press release).

While that's not balanced, it's better. We need better because there is no more earth.

it's the loveability

Despite an intention to shift my focus away from placemaking, I seem to come back to it with remarkable regularity. Not least because I have seen its successes, and wish the same for Bermuda. 

 ethan kent, image - pps.org

ethan kent, image - pps.org

The doyenne of placemaking is the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) in New York, which likely coined the term. You can check out the website, pps.org, to learn more about the organisation, but you will get a better feel for it and its work by reading What Makes a City Great? It's not the Liveability but the Loveability by Irene Pedruelo for Policy Innovations. In this thought-provoking piece she interviews Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President at PPS, who has extensive experience around the world in the art and business of placemaking. Ethan has been involved in placemaking efforts ranging from Times Square in New York, to Sub Centro Las Condes in Santiago and Pompey Square in Nassau and much more.

In the interview Ethan brings out, among many other things, the importance of community-based change. As he puts it, "People with most attachment to a place are the ones that love the place the most. Where there is no community-based governance, there is no attachment. We need to pay attention to place and community, and the social networks around it."  

It is about the loveability.

is planning better for opponents?

I read with great interest Patrick Fox's Op-Ed piece in Planetizen entitled "Broken Planning: How Opponents Hijacked the Planning Process." It is one person's view of the American system but, nonetheless, some issues are transferable.

While there is a big hint of "Oh woe is me" developer-think throughout the article, Fox does highlight a certain dysfunction, if you will, in the planning system.  That is: how do you get a community to be energised in favour of development, either on the policy or project front? It is the bane of every Planning Department's existence that community outreach efforts seem only to excite the same ten people. According to Fox, those ten people will always be opposed to the development project.

 Social media does extend, and can enrich, the debate but, still, how do you get more than the usual ten to stand up and be counted? Let me know because I can't help but think the final product will be better for the community if more of the community engages in the process.