Sunday, October 30, 2011

World’s first vertical forest under construction in Milan

Bosco Verticale by Stefano Boeri. Bosco Verticale is a towering 27-story structure, currently under construction in Milan, Italy. Once complete, the tower will be home to the world's first vertical forest.

This design is close to the full realization of an idea that occurred to me around a decade ago, as I pondered how to house 10 billion humans and still have a biosphere. I built a genetic algorithm framework for modeling these kinds of structures, which was used in Gennaro Senatore: Morphogenesis of Spatial Configurations. It’s amazing to see these kinds of structures actually being built; it’s as though the 21st century has finally arrived.

Coevolved high surface area structure, showing human and natural environments woven together. James Galasyn

By Diane Pham
16 October 2011

We've reported extensively on green vertical towers that integrate plant life into their facade, but unlike many of those designs, here's one that goes beyond being a mere concept. Designed by Stefano Boeri - architect, academic and former editor of design and architecture magazine Domus - his Bosco Verticale is a towering 27-story structure, currently under construction in Milan, Italy. Once complete, the tower will be home to the world's first vertical forest.

The Bosco Verticale is a system that optimizes, recuperates, and produces energy. Covered in plant life, the building aids in balancing the microclimate and in filtering the dust particles contained in the urban environment (Milan is one of the most polluted cities in Europe). The diversity of the plants and their characteristics produce humidity, absorb CO2 and dust particles, producing oxygen and protect the building from radiation and acoustic pollution. This not only improves the quality of living spaces, but gives way to dramatic energy savings year round.

Each apartment in the building will have a balcony planted with trees that are able to respond to the city’s weather — shade will be provided within the summer, while also filtering city pollution; and in the winter the bare trees will allow sunlight to permeate through the spaces. Plant irrigation will be supported through the filtering and reuse of the greywater produced by the building. Additionally, Aeolian and photovoltaic energy systems will further promote the tower’s self-sufficiency.

The design of the Bosco Verticale is a response to both urban sprawl and the disappearance of nature from our lives and on the landscape. The architect notes that if the units were to be constructed unstacked as stand-alone units across a single surface, the project would require 50,000 square meters of land, and 10,000 square meters of woodland. Bosco Verticale is the first offer in his proposed BioMilano, which envisions a green belt created around the city to incorporate 60 abandoned farms on the outskirts of the city to be revitalized for community use.

+ Stefano Boeri Architetti

Bosco Verticale in Milan Will Be the World’s First Vertical Forest

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Global warming confirmed again, this time by independent study once backed by ‘skeptics’


The results of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) are in, and to (almost) nobody’s surprise, Earth is warming. Even more compelling is how closely the BEST team’s surface temperature reconstruction matches that of NASA, NOAA, and the Hadley Centre.

Richard Muller and snake charmer. The 'charmer' teased the cobra with his fingers and his tongue, and the cobra repeatedly struck. But the man was faster. Note how he holds the cobra. He can sense when it is going to strike, and it can only strike a short distance.

The team’s lead is Richard Muller, who’s a well-known climate science skeptic, and for this reason denialists fully expected him to turn climate science on its head and find no global warming. Instead, his results provide strong confirmation that we do, in fact, know how to measure surface temperature correctly. Predictably, denialists have turned on Muller, accusing him of joining “The Team”.

Here’s his editorial in The Wall Street Journal, “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism”. The most amusing denialist defense now is the claim that they never disputed the upward trend in the temperature record, only its cause. I’ve gone quite a few rounds with denialists over the years, and I can attest that “there is no warming trend” has always been one of the first arrows out of the quiver.

The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism

21 OCTOBER 2011

[…] let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.

Over the last two years, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project has looked deeply at all the issues raised above. I chaired our group, which just submitted four detailed papers on our results to peer-reviewed journals. We have now posted these papers online at to solicit even more scrutiny.

Our work covers only land temperature—not the oceans—but that's where warming appears to be the greatest. Robert Rohde, our chief scientist, obtained more than 1.6 billion measurements from more than 39,000 temperature stations around the world. Many of the records were short in duration, and to use them Mr. Rohde and a team of esteemed scientists and statisticians developed a new analytical approach that let us incorporate fragments of records. By using data from virtually all the available stations, we avoided data-selection bias. Rather than try to correct for the discontinuities in the records, we simply sliced the records where the data cut off, thereby creating two records from one.

We discovered that about one-third of the world's temperature stations have recorded cooling temperatures, and about two-thirds have recorded warming. The two-to-one ratio reflects global warming. The changes at the locations that showed warming were typically between 1-2ºC, much greater than the IPCC's average of 0.64ºC. […]

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn't know what we'd find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.

The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism


A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming

Oct 22nd 2011

FOR those who question whether global warming is really happening, it is necessary to believe that the instrumental temperature record is wrong. That is a bit easier than you might think.
There are three compilations of mean global temperatures, each one based on readings from thousands of thermometers, kept in weather stations and aboard ships, going back over 150 years. Two are American, provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one is a collaboration between Britain’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (known as Hadley CRU). And all suggest a similar pattern of warming: amounting to about 0.9°C over land in the past half century.

To most scientists, that is consistent with the manifold other indicators of warming—rising sea-levels, melting glaciers, warmer ocean depths and so forth—and convincing. Yet the consistency among the three compilations masks large uncertainties in the raw data on which they are based. Hence the doubts, husbanded by many eager sceptics, about their accuracy. A new study, however, provides further evidence that the numbers are probably about right. […]

The heat is on

Hot Dog Bites Skeptical Man: Koch-Funded Berkeley Temperature Study Does “Confirm the Reality of Global Warming”

By Joe Romm
20 October 2011

Four new papers confirm that “the world is warming fast,” as the Economist summed it up. One paper finds that “the effect of urban heating on the global trends is nearly negligible.” Another finds that the work of the scientist-smearing denier Anthony Watts is pure BS.

Okay, that’s all “dog bites man” stuff, which is to say, not news in the least. The news is that this work was funded in part by Charles Koch, a leading funder of deniers, and two of the key authors are well-known smearers of climate scientists, Judith Curry and Richard Muller. Hot dog!

Climate Progress actually broke this story back in March — see Exclusive: Berkeley temperature study results “confirm the reality of global warming and support in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU.” That was based on an email Climatologist Ken Caldeira sent me after seeing their preliminary results and a public talk by Muller confirming:

  • “We are seeing substantial global warming”
  • “None of the effects raised by the [skeptics] is going to have anything more than a marginal effect on the amount of global warming.”

But now the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study have completed their “independent” analysis of all of the temperature stations and found a rate of warming since the 1950s as high NOAA and NASA and faster than the (much maligned) UK Hadley/CRU data.

If there is any news here it is that Watts has been demonstrated once and for all to be an “anti-scientist” — not just someone who routinely smears scientists, but someone who represents the negation of the scientific method. No facts can change his conclusions. He is a science rejectionist — and an uber-hypocritical one, as we’ll see.

Watts had famously promised “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.“ He and other deniers even starting working with BEST to influence the outcome, as I first reported here: “Bombshell: Climate Science deniers claim to have full access to Berkeley temperature study work-product — and are now working with the Berkeley team!

But BEST just released a whole paper devoted to debunking Watts’ life work – his effort to smear climate scientists by accusing them of knowingly using bad temperature stations to rig their results. NOAA had debunked Watts 2 years ago (see here), of course. But now it’s friendly fire trained on Watts. […]

Hot Dog Bites Skeptical Man: Koch-Funded Berkeley Temperature Study Does “Confirm the Reality of Global Warming”

Skeptic Talking Point Melts Away as an Inconvenient Physicist Confirms Warming

20 October 2011

Anthony Watts and others who have energized climate skeptics by claiming to poke holes in research showing substantial recent warming have their work cut out for them.

Richard Muller, a noted Berkeley physicist who’s been a strident critic of climate campaigners, has released a much-anticipated new package of studies, along with all of his team’s data and methods, that powerfully challenges one of the prime talking points of pundits and politicians trying to avoid a shift away from fossil fuels.

The assertion has been that the world hasn’t really warmed — just the thermometers — due to expanding asphalt and concrete around cities and other locations housing weather stations.

You can find Muller’s materials at [4:52 p.m. | Update | Anthony Watts has posted a long piece stressing the important point that the Muller work has not yet been peer reviewed. (A Dot Earth reader below notes some irony in this complaint.)] […]

Skeptic Talking Point Melts Away as an Inconvenient Physicist Confirms Warming

Breaking News: The Earth Still Goes Around the Sun, and It's Still Warming Up

By Peter Gleick
20 October 2011

Oh, we already knew that.

That’s what crossed my mind today when I read the news release and then the actual scientific papers and then the Wall Street Journal opinion piece about the new conclusions of the study of the Earth’s surface temperature records from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) group.

The scientific community has known — and been saying for decades — that the earth is warming up. Except for a small cadre of highly vocal, ideologically stuck, but increasing marginalized people, there is no dispute about this among scientists. The data are extensive – covering the globe – and they have been vetted, reanalyzed, corrected for error, compared with satellite data, and subjected to every known criticism. And independent group after independent group has found the same thing: the earth is warming. The fact that this is actually old news can be seen in the latest poll (from Stanford University with Ipsos and Reuters) that, despite the inability of all the leading Republican presidential candidates to publicly acknowledge this, even 83% of the American people believe the earth is warming. And there probably isn’t much that 83% of the American people will agree on these days.

Indeed, even most remaining climate change skeptics and deniers have moved away from saying there is no warming. Now, their major talking points are that it isn’t caused by humans, or only a little bit, or it won’t be bad, or we can’t afford to fix it, or… Denial is a moving target.

Nevertheless, among a small group of skeptics there has been a lot of noise denying warming, ostensibly on the grounds that there are problems with the temperature measurements, thermometers, long-term records, methods of analysis, and more. The leading proponent of this view is Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who runs a popular blog site for climate skeptics. Watts has argued for a long time that our temperature records or analyses stink and that we cannot, therefore, believe the scientists who have shown over and over that it is warming. It has always been hard to take Watts seriously, given the massive amounts of evidence for warming, even beyond the clear temperature records themselves: the disappearing glaciers, the disappearing Arctic ice, the changes in migratory patterns for birds, the faster blooming of plants, the more extreme heat waves, the high ratio of record high temperatures to record low temperatures, the movement of plant and pest species toward the poles, the disappearing permafrost, the rising sea levels… I could go on and on. None of this convinces the diehards, though. […]

Breaking News: The Earth Still Goes Around the Sun, and It's Still Warming Up

More People Who Can’t Handle The Truth

By Paul Krugman
21 October 2011

If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll know that whenever I present data — and I do present a lot of data — right-wingers will complain of “cherry-picking”. They never have a clear example of how I should do things differently — or if they do, it’s always obviously wrong. But what they really mean is that they won’t accept data that doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

This stuff is a minor version of what goes on, on a far bigger and more important scale, with regard to climate change. No matter how much evidence scientists accumulate, they’re accused of somehow manipulating the data.

Now, as Andy Revkin and Joe Romm tell us, one prominent skeptic who actually believed that the data was being manipulated has reported in detail on his efforts to produce clean climate data. And guess what: his data overwhelmingly confirm what climate scientists have been saying.

Richard Muller, the skeptic we’re talking about, seems to have had different motivations from many of the professional climate skeptics. He basically appears to have suffered from nothing more than characteristic physicist arrogance, the belief that people in lesser sciences just don’t know what they’re doing. (Economists experience this all the time, but we make up for it by being equally condescending to sociologists.) To his credit, he went and tried to do better — and is now being honest in revealing that what he got was pretty much the same as the results of previous research.

Of course, you know how the professional skeptics have responded; Joe Romm has the ugly but predictable details.

Oh, one more thing, relevant to both this story and today’s column: landing in my inbox this morning was

POLITICO Playbook, presented by the American Petroleum Institute

Uh huh.

More People Who Can’t Handle The Truth