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New York City Environmental Sustainability
A look into the history of urbanization, current environmental situation, and solutions for the future
Curated by Kate C
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Online Digital Project

The history of New York City urbanization, data on the present situation of sustainability, and potential solutions for the future.

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Evolution in a Big City

Evolution in a Big City | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
Using newts, coyotes and mice, Jason Munshi-South shows how animals develop genetic differences in evolution, even within an urban city.

 

This video demonstrates how NYC urban development has impacted the ecosystem.

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"Disease and Ethnicity in an Urban Environment" by Cotter and Patrick

"Disease and Ethnicity in an Urban Environment" by Cotter and Patrick | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it

John V. Cotter and Larry L. Patrick, "Disease and Ethnicity in an Urban Environment", Annals of the Assosiation of American Geographers vol. 71 no. 1 (1981): 40-49.

 

This academic article analyzes how urban geography influenced the 1849 cholera epidemic in Buffalo, NY. Geographic features under investigation included topography, population density, and socioeconomic status of neighborhoods. There were five socially distinct wards in Buffalo that were affected by cholera differently.  The geographers trace the movement of disease through four variables- 1) the interaction within and between the ethnic groups that occupied each ward, 2) housing conditions between immigrants and American born residents, 3) the relationship each ethnic group had with their urban environment, and 3) the conditions that spread cholera (contaminated water supply).

 

This article is a historical analysis of how early urbanization affected human-environmental interaction and how urban geography played an important role in the outbreak and diffusion of disease across the environment. This period marks one of the many transitions in demographics and urban identity in the region.

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Kate C's comment, August 9, 2012 12:14 AM
An interesting feature of this article is the examination of the topographic location of public wells (pictured above). The wells plotted on the map display population density, and also the wards most impacted by the outbreak. Wells in the low regions were at risk of contamination from water running downhill. The densely populated neighborhoods had little open space for water absorption, so mortality rates correlate with weeks of high rainfall.
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New York's energy use mapped in patchwork infographic

New York's energy use mapped in patchwork infographic | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
Columbia University visualisation shows energy use for every block and lot in New York City...

Urban energy consumption is mapped out and broken down by city blocks. 

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Welcome to 1940s New York: NYC neighborhood profiles from 1943, based on the 1940 Census

Welcome to 1940s New York: NYC neighborhood profiles from 1943, based on the 1940 Census | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
The Welcome to 1940s New York website from the CUNY Graduate Center provides photos, color-coded maps, statistics, and a brief narrative for 116 survey areas (approximations of the neighborhoods we know today) based on the 1940 Census and a market...

 

To use this interactive map, click on a specific neighborhood to view the census data including pictures, a brief narrative, color-coded maps, and population demographics displayed by race, rent expenditures, and family structure.  All information is based on census data from 1943, and it was published as a 250-page New York Market Analysis to help local businesses best advertise to NY neighborhoods, which may contextualize the information included (and excluded) from the report.  This provides information about NYC in the 1940s including the low number of city residents, the lack of ethnic diversity, affordable housing, and obvious bias in the published narrative. 

 

This source clearly demonstrates how many elements of NYC have changed since this research was conducted, but check out the analysis of demographic changes provided by the Center for Urban Research. 

http://www.urbanresearch.org/projects/new-york-1940s-to-now/

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C40 Cities: Climate Leadership Group

C40 Cities: Climate Leadership Group | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it

"Each city in the C40 is unique in its infrastructure and progress in addressing climate change. C40 works to empower cities to connect with each other and share technical expertise on best practices."

 

C40 Cities is a program that creates a network of international megacities striving for environmental sustainability. Each member city has different infrastructure, action, and impact. C40 Cities encourages action at the local level that will have global impacts. This chart that compares all 58 cities affiliated with the program based on their buildings, energy use, lighting, seaports, renewable resources, transportation, waste, and water (Icon Key on left). Clicking on one of the cities provides specific information about that member city. This site can be used to gain information about New York City's CO2 emissions, population, climate, GDP, as well as related news stories and case study history. Use this interactive infographic to see how each C40 city measures up.

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Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities

http://www.ted.com How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we wa...

 

Alex Steffen discusses the potential role cities could play in the future by starting environmental programs. One major initiative that could help to redirect global sustainability is a decrease in automobile use in favor for bicycling.


Via Walid Malouf
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Samantha Fuller's curator insight, September 27, 2013 1:44 PM

We think that the climate change has to do with using fossil fuels. And althogh creating a clean sourse of energy is a good plan it doesn't solve everything. Soon we will not be able to create enough energy for everyone who uses it.

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Most Bike-Friendly Cities

Most Bike-Friendly Cities | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it

According to this infographic, New York is ranked #8 most bike-friendly city in America.  Cities were judged based on 5 criteria- their engineering (infrastructure that encourages cycling), education, encouragement (promotional events and campaigns), enforcement of road safety laws, and the evaluation and planning of present and future programs. 

 

Maybe the developing sustainability initiative of NYC and specifically the new Citi Bike program may bump up its national and international ranking.

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Kate C's comment, August 9, 2012 12:13 AM
Interestingly, this infographic was provided by MotorcycleInsurance.org, a comprehensive online resource guide that was designed to educate motorcycle enthusiasts on buying, outfitting, riding, and insuring motorcycles. The site reads that, "Though it may seem odd for us to be talking about bike-friendly cities considering we generally cover topics related to motorcycles, don’t be alarmed. Bikes and bikers affect automotive culture just as much as the next best thing." "Automotive culture" is a relatively recent phenomenon that encourages people to strive for car ownership and effects the prominence of bicycle use.
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Air Pollution and the Health of New Yorkers: The Impact of Fine Particulates and Ozone

This lengthy study by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was conducted to determine the human cost of air pollution. It focused on effects of the two of the most common air pollutants- fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and ozone (O3), which come from fuel emissions.


They looked at health impacts on infants, children, adults, and the elderly, and concluded that
- city dweller have a lower life expectancy (Figure 1 pg 6)
- effects of PM2.5 and O3 include premature mortality; increased hospital admissions for  cardiovascular and reparatory causes; and higher risk of developing and being hospitalized for asthma
- each year NYC pollution causes 3,400 deaths; 2,800 hospital admissions; and 10,000 emergency medical visits (pg 3)
 - a 10% reduction of emissions could prevent over 380 premature deaths, 380 hospital admission, and 1550 health emergencies annually (Table 1 pg. 3; Table 2 pg. 4)


Skim through the reading and look at the charts, graphs, and maps for specific information about consequences of NYC air pollution.

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Eric Sanderson pictures New York -- before the City | Video on TED.com

TED Talks 400 years after Hudson found New York harbor, Eric Sanderson shares how he made a 3D map of Mannahatta's fascinating pre-city ecology of hills, rivers, wildlife -- accurate down to the block -- when Times Square was a wetland and you...

 

The Manhattan Project created a picture of the area before the development of a city, the way Henry Hudson did during his 1609 exploration. After 10 years (1999-2009), the research project has expanded to study the entire city of New York. The Welikia Project analyzes geography and landscape ecology to discover the original environment and compare it to present day. Scientists have learned that world's largest cities once had a natural landscape of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes, ponds and streams, forests and fields with an equally diverse wildlife community. By focusing on the city's biodiversity of 400 years ago and the modern era, information can be gathered about what has changed, what has remained constant, where the city was done well and where it needs to improve. This source is useful because it allows for the visualization of NYC in a way never seen before. Urban environments, such as NYC, have a landscape largely created by humans, so the skyscrapers, pavement, and mass population is far removed from the landscape it once was.

 

Find more information about the Welikia Project at http://welikia.org/

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Kim Vignale's comment, August 12, 2012 2:03 PM
I was surprised on how green NYC is because of all the cars and urban development. I think this project topic is very informative and interesting (makes me want to got to NYC) . I thought it was very interesting how NYC was in the early 1900s and how it became now. I also think it's a great idea how adding more greenery to the urban city will add sort of a rural feel to a big city.
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Why Cities? Cities, Scaling and Sustainability | Santa Fe Institute

Why Cities?   Cities, Scaling and Sustainability | Santa Fe Institute | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it

Cities, Scaling, and Sustainability is a Santa Fe Institute research project that uses an interdisciplinary approach for a quantitative analysis of social organization within cities.  This video and infographic demonstrate the growing importance of cities on a global scale, and why they should be examined by social scientists.  Sustainability is a (relativly) unquestioned concern but here is an explanation of why urban sustainability is especially important, why cities?

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Urban Earth

Urban Earth | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
Urban adventures to (re)present our habitat through stories, photography, film..

 

Daniel Raven-Ellison has initiated the Urban Earth film project as a creative way of documenting some of the world's largest cities. The first cities explored were Mumbai, Mexico City, and London, where Raven-Ellison and his team traveled on foot across each city taking pictures every 8 seconds of whatever was directly in front of him, and later compiled the pictures into a film portrait. The Urban Earth project aims at documenting the reality of urban landscapes without the usual bias of focusing on specific features (good or bad) and ignoring what some would consider mundane. This allows people access to foreign landscapes and others to see their own urban environments in a new way.


This digital project is an important element of urban geography because the way individuals interact and think about their environment influences the way they treat it. In a place like New York City, where the community is made up of millions of individuals, it may be easier to disregard the environmental impact of one's actions. By documenting an urban landscape without bias, residents can see their community with a new perspective. While conducting research on urban geography and NYC environmental sustainability, there were reoccurring themes of localized, individual action and personal connections to the urban landscape, which this source includes.

 

Check out the National Geographic article about Raven-Ellison and his projects. 

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/daniel-raven-ellison/

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Seth Dixon's comment, July 27, 2012 2:46 PM
Daniel Raven-Ellison is a great 'guerilla geographer'...and a really nice guy too. I'd recommend tweeting this and site him (@ravenellison).
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NASA Visible Earth: Smog Layer Over Upstate New York

NASA Visible Earth: Smog Layer Over Upstate New York | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
NASA's Visible Earth catalog of NASA images and animations of our home planet...

Astronauts in the STS-92 Space Shuttle took this photograph of upstate New York in October 2000. The regional atmospheric layer of smog extends across the state of New York and all the way west to Lake Eerie and Ohio.

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C40 Cities: Eight Solutions to Address Climate Change

C40 Cities: Eight Solutions to Address Climate Change | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
Nearly all cities share the same challenges of energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions in water management, transport, public lighting, and more.

 

Interactive demonstration of eight environmental problems that cities are contributing to, the solutions, and related case studies.

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New York City Bike Share | NYC's new transit option

New York City Bike Share | NYC's new transit option | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it

NYC was launched their Citi Bike program, a new initiative to promote environmentally friendly transportation. This government website provides program information, riding tips, and maps about the largest bike-sharing program in the continent. Bicycle transportation is becoming a viable option in NYC and other major urban centers, as seen in Alex Steffen's TED Talk about the future sustainability of NYC. This represents a proactive movement by NYC government to promote environmental consciousness and a communal atmosphere in this densely populated city. This will make NY a greener city and build the community identity for its residents.

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Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, August 9, 2012 10:26 AM
I love this idea, thought it was an excellent concept. As I mentioned in class I had seen it in D.C. quite a few people were utilizing it fo their daily commute and errands. As long as the price stays competitive there is no reason why people shouldnt use these.
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NYC Emerges as ‘Green City’ Leader

NYC Emerges as ‘Green City’ Leader | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it
In a new survey of the sustainability practices and policies of American and Canadian cities, New York placed third overall behind only Vancouver and top-ranked San Francisco.

 

NYC was ranked the 3rd greenest city- behind Vancouver and San Francisco.  Cited for its enironmentally sound transportation system, use of renewable energy, and recycling policies, New Yorkers can thank the several programs supported by the currect administration such as PlaNYC and Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership with C40 Climate Leadership Group.

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PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York

PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York | New York City Environmental Sustainability | Scoop.it

"Four years ago, we asked what we wanted our city to look and feel like in 2030. A growing population, aging infrastructure, a changing climate, and an evolving economy posed challenges to our city’s success and quality of life. But we recognized that we will determine our own future by how we respond to and shape these changes with our own actions. We created PlaNYC as a bold agenda to meet these challenges and build a greener, greater New York. Today, we put forward an updated plan that builds upon the progress and lessons of the past four years."

 

PlaNYC is an environmental initiative sponsored by Mayor Bloomberg aimed at ensuring a brighter future for the city based on environmental sustainability.  This video is the 2011 event, providing an overview of program's progress and continuing goals.


The PlaNYC homepage can be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/home/home.shtml

 

The Full report- http://nytelecom.vo.llnwd.net/o15/agencies/planyc2030/pdf/planyc_2011_planyc_full_report.pdf

 

Also check out this Inhabit NYC article about the plan.
http://inhabitat.com/nyc/updates-to-mayor-bloombergs-planyc-call-for-solar-plants-on-landfills-banning-dirty-oils/

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