Saturday, February 9, 2008

Car free... calm... quiet... breathe...

I don't know -- yesterday I was writing about saying goodbye -- how does that enter in to conversation -- how do you say it when you can't imagine the future -- the new life...

And then comes a breath of fresh air...

A city is being planned in Abu Dhabi which will be entirely solar powered, zero carbon emissions, 100% recycling, car free... a future with clean air and less pollution. If plans hold, it will be up and running by 2016 -- my kids won't even be in college yet!

Groundbreaking is scheduled for Saturday for Masdar City, a nearly self-contained mini-municipality designed for up to 50,000 people rising from the desert next to Abu Dhabi's international airport and intended as a hub for academic and corporate research on nonpolluting energy technologies.

The 2.3-square-mile community, set behind walls to divert hot desert winds and airport noise, will be car free, according to the design by Foster + Partners, the London firm that has become a leading practitioner of energy-saving architecture.

The community, slightly smaller than the historic district of Venice, will have similar narrow pedestrian streets, but shaded by canopies made of photovoltaic panels. It will produce all of its own energy from sunlight.

Water will flow from a solar-powered seawater-desalinization plant. Produce will come from nearby greenhouses, and all waste will be composted or otherwise recycled, said Khaled Awad, property manager for the project.

The first phase, to be completed over the next two years, will be construction of the Masdar Institute, a graduate-level academic research center associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From an article in The International Herald Tribune by Andrew C. Revkin.

In the Times DOT Earth Blog there's an interactive promotional video about the project -- it looks like something out of the Jetson's -- but it also looks pretty... "enjoy a fresh cup of coffee on the veranda in a car free environment..."

Car free... calm... quiet... breathe...

While it is unrelated to oil, I was further lifted this morning by a new report issued by the World Health Organization proposing a global anti-smoking campaign. The report goes tracks world-wide who is smoking and where in order to combat the situation with a huge anti-smoking communications.

There is hope.

Revkin makes a really big point that none of the major movements in sustainable energy happening here in the US. Even his lead in the International Herald Tribune pits the Gulf as an unlikely spot for such strides and why not Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico... I would further complain that while this story was given prominence in the International Herald Tribune, which is the international paper of the New York Times Corp., the story is relegated to the blog (albeit the best blog in the country) in the Times itself.

The World Health Organization report was funded by mayor Bloomberg himself.

I don't know -- I think where we live is all messed up. Power and money and an inability to change the situation we are in... overwhelming.

But there are people out there doing it -- and I don't care who they are or where they live -- we are all people. We are all here together -- and while I would prefer to say that we will be part of the solution, I'm just glad someone is working on a solution this morning.

Car free... calm... quiet... breathe...

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