1) Is Europe at risk from a Chernobyl forest fire? “Much of the 30km exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant is pine forest,” and “[i]f ignited, one expert likens the potential effect to setting off a nuclear bomb in Eastern Europe. Wind could carry radioactive smoke particles large distances, not just in Ukraine, but right across the continent.”
2) It's record-breaking: “Currently, nearly 47 percent of the country suffers under drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. If only the contiguous 48 states are considered, the figure jumps to approximately 56 percent.”
3) Rebecca Solnit on urban agriculture.
We are in an era when gardens are front and center for hopes and dreams of a better world or just a better neighborhood, or the fertile space where the two become one. There are farm advocates and food activists, progressive farmers and gardeners, and maybe most particular to this moment, there’s a lot of urban agriculture. These city projects hope to overcome the alienation of food, of labor, of embodiment, of land, the conflicts between production and consumption, between pleasure and work, the destructiveness of industrial agriculture, the growing problems of global food scarcity, seed loss. The list of ideals being planted and tended and sometimes harvested is endless, but the question is simple. What crops are you tending? What do you hope to grow? Hope? Community? Health? Pleasure? Justice? Gardens represent the idealism of this moment and its principal pitfall, I think. A garden can be, after all, either the ground you stand on to take on the world or how you retreat from it, and the difference is not always obvious.
4) Download Pietro Laureano's The Water Atlas: Traditional knowledge to combat desertification. [pdf, 130MB; via @namhenderson]
In this beautifully illustrated work, Pietro Laureano shares with us the fruits of more than a quarter of a century of careful observation of traditional knowledge and techniques applied to urban settlements and landscape resources management in all regions of the world. The book introduces us to very sophisticated, thousand-year-old, capacities developed by local communities and civilizations around the world, amongst which water harvesting techniques, recycling of organic wastes and used waters for soil fertility conservation or, in more general terms, the ecosystemic approach to town planning, are anything but new! The volume is also the most convincing illustration of the fact that, whereas modern technological solutions rely on separation and specialization and for most of the time imply the mobilization of external resources, traditional knowledge, which by its very nature applies the principle of integration and uses internal renewable inputs, has proved over time to be effective in the daily struggle of civilizations against adverse environments and, more recently, against desertification.
5) “The devastating wildfires in Colorado have provided a showcase for the latest technology in mapping and tracking emergencies. Esri and Google Maps are presenting maps of the fires that the two companies continuously update, demonstrating an increasingly popular method for disseminating emergency information.”
6) “The Dredgeman's Revelation” by Karen Russell is a short story about a young man working on a dredge barge in the Florida swamp during the Great Depression.
7) The first Watershed+ artist residency is now open for applications.
Watershed+ is an arts program embedded in the City of Calgary's Water Services Department. It aims to develop awareness and pleasure in the environment, not by changing water management practice, nor developing a uniform visual language, but by creating a climate of opportunity for water initiatives to build an emotional connection between people and the watershed.
As part of Watershed+ an artist studio space has been developed at Ralph Klein Park for an artist residency program. It offers artists a unique opportunity to explore, experiment and engage in thoughts and conversations around Calgary’s watershed, water management and the Park environment.
There is an opportunity for long term residency of more than 3 months, and for a short term residency of 1 month.
Download the information packet here. The deadline is July 16, 2012.
8) For the hydrophiles, Watershed+ also has a terrific Tumblr blog, which has collected fire hydrant drinking fountains, Maya Lin's fish cleaning table art installation, used almost non-stop in season; the water-filled runnels of Freiburg, Germany; the Archipelago Cinema; the rock climbing wall of the Diga di Luzzone Dam in Tessin, Switzerland; and subterranean apartments in the underground storm drains of Las Vegas.
9) And DIY glaciers.
10) And also an owl, with the following caption: “The City and County of San Francisco is using birds of prey to keep ducks and other migratory waterfowl, that would defecate in what becomes drinking water, off the reservoir. By employing these birds and their handlers, San Francisco reduces the amount of chemicals needed to treat their drinking water.”
Extra Credit: What are meteorwrongs?