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Building Sustainable Communities

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Shelter is one of man’s fundamental needs. How large, how attractive, how functional the shelter is an expression of man’s desire. Certainly the cave is the original green structure. All early building was indigenous. People used what was immediately available: wood in New England, sod on the Great Plains, clay in the Southwest, ice in Alaska. There was no choice but “green” building materials and methods.

As humankind, its shelter needs and construction methods became more advanced, many 20th century developers lost touch with the inherent benefits of green building. “Most conventional practitioners of modern design and construction find it easier to make buildings as if nature and place did not exist. In Rangoon or Racine, their work is the same,” explains green building pioneer William McDonough in the preface to Big and Green: Toward Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002).

But all along, a small faction of builders and planners has worked to incorporate green building into the mainstream world (see related Bicycle City article for major sustainable development influencers). The collective eco-friendly mindset and resulting benefits at environmental and economic levels is shifting the development pendulum to incorporate sustainable development at a mainstream level. Architects, builders and community developers can increasingly tap into numerous sustainable options to create homes, neighborhoods, businesses, institutions and entire cities. Such construction not only utilizes green materials and environmental impact planning, but also taps into natural resources for energy efficiency. Bicycle City developers are committed to draw from both historical and newly devised eco-savvy planning and building trend to minimize potential development’s environmental impact while maximizing renewable resources and a sense of community.

The Beginnings of Eco-Friendly Development
Until the early part of the twentieth century, man had little choice but to adapt his lifestyle to the climate in order to live in harmony with his environment. His primary goal was to be able to moderate indoor air temperature, explains Building Design & Construction’sWhite Paper on Sustainability: A Report on the Green Building Movement”.

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The paper outlines the timeline and causes for green building in America. Heating the indoors was relatively easy as a modern adaptation of the harnessing of fire, with refinements producing cleaner indoor air quality. Cooling was another matter, since in nature cooling is a function of weather patterns and microclimates. Prior to World War II, passive solutions to the challenge of cooling structures were devised. To decrease the heating effect of the sun, early skyscrapers utilized deep-set windows such as those found in New York’s Flatiron Building or awnings such as those installed at Chicago’s Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. building. Window shades, operable windows and roof gardens were other early innovations.

The 1930s saw the introduction of early air conditioning, low-wattage fluorescent lighting, structural steel and reflective glass, advents that created the ‘new’ steel-and-glass box urban architecture. Architects no longer had to consider site selection, prevailing winds or even the windows that opened to ensure airflow. The advent of air conditioning may have been the single invention that tipped the scales from man’s cooperation with his environment to his dominance over it.

In 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into World War II and the ensuing “war effort” jumpstarted both American ingenuity and the U.S. economy. The urgency and immediacy of the war compelled American business and industry to quickly find new and effective solutions to wartime demands. By the war’s end, American industry had created tremendous capacity for production and needed an outlet. Fueled by servicemen returning to their families who needed housing – fast – the construction industry filled the void with new materials (plastic) and new techniques (prefabricated structures) developed during the war. The housing shortage of the late 1940s, together with the arrival of the “baby boom” generation, created yet another explosion, the Post War Building Boom of the 1950s. Construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s laid the groundwork for the appearance of the subdivision and urban sprawl, and “housing starts” became the bedrock of the U. S. economy.city

All along the building industry development, a few persistent voices continued to express skepticism about the validity of avoiding Nature. In 1962, the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring examined the potentially toxic effects of human lifestyle on the environment and generated a serious interest in ecology. The decade of the 1970s spawned a number of environmental and ecological milestones, including the first Earth Day on April 1, 1970. The OPEC oil embargo in 1973 was the first time many Americans came face to face with the idea that global oil resources were, in fact, finite. In 1977, the Department of Energy was created as a separate Cabinet department to address energy usage and conservation. The 1980s saw architects and governments cooperating to address the idea of renewable resources and incorporating energy efficient systems into building practices. In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the so-called Earth Summit, passed a blueprint for achieving global sustainability, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Words like ecology, biodiversity and sustainability began appearing in everyday conversations. In 1993, the U. S. Green Building Council was incorporated, the Greening of the White House took place and the President’s Council of Sustainable Development was established. Throughout the 1990s, federal and state agencies and programs to support energy efficiency and sustainable development were created.

Stelle, Ill.: A Real Life Example of a Sustainable Community
Located midway between Chicago and Champaign, Illinois, Stelle was originally founded in 1963 as a private community fostering the values of individual human development. It has evolved to become a model of a sustainable community encompassing alternative concepts of all kinds, from garden co-ops to renewable resources featuring community ownership and operation of water and sewage treatment plants. The town’s current population of 120, made up of 50 homeowners and tenants, governs via automatic membership in the Stelle Community Association.

Stelle’s infrastructure exemplifies the use and integration of self-sufficient, alternative, solar and wind technologies. The town’s water pumps are powered by a wind turbine interconnected to the electrical grid. Stelle Telephone Company is the town’s completely solar-powered telephone and internet provider company. The solar powered telephone mutual is the first off-grid, solar powered, end-of-line phone switch in North America. The town’s corporate citizens are like-minded; for instance, Stelle is home to the Midwest sales office of SunWize Technologies, a solar power manufacturer.

Stelle’s private homes offer examples of diverse construction, ranging from earth berm to straw bales. Other homes incorporate solar panels, passive solar design and wind power. Stelle’s deep and abiding belief in sustainability also extends to organic gardening and cooperatives for food, gardening, tools and education. The community is a fascinating example of self-sufficiency and may well serve as a paradigm for future sustainable communities.

A Green Boom?
The future of green building is filled with exciting potential. As with any movement, a number of elements must come together to achieve critical mass, explains The University of Michigan’s 2005 handbook, Building Green for the Future: Case Studies of Sustainable Development in Michigan. The publication offers a comprehensive guide to all aspects of building green

First the visionaries: people with creative minds who just want to play with a seemingly impossible concept and see where it goes. They try different concepts, learn from their mistakes and winnow out the useful information. Next the initiators materialize. They look at the ideas and begin to transform them into actual prototypes, trying different methods and discarding what doesn’t work, building and elaborating on what does work. Then facilitators take the prototypes and apply on a broader scale. They know where to take the models to reach a broader audience and gain a foothold in the marketplace. Finally, the capitalists appear to transform the models into practical financial equations that balance investment and profit opportunities. Energy efficiency, alternative power and green development concepts all exist at different places on this continuum.

The other necessary ingredient to vault a movement into the public’s consciousness is the outside force: the cost of oil. In the U. S., the wallet ultimately forces people to begin rethinking their beliefs. And that is when a paradigm shift can finally occur, the Michigan paper asserts. The stage is set for green building to emerge as a viable entity in the American lifestyle; the skyrocketing cost of an oil-dependent economy may be the trigger to set it in motion.

The subject of the financial feasibility of green development is directly addressed in Building Green for the Future. The authors illustrate their points with in-depth case studies of commercial, educational, residential and institutional green buildings constructed in Michigan, covering everything from the history of the project to “lessons learned” to the all-important Bottom Line. While the environmental and social aspects of the green building movement are almost universally viewed as positive, the financial benefits are still under scrutiny. As with any new technology, as the number of completed projects increases, costs drop. The misperception that green buildings are significantly more expensive is due in part to the sustainable technologies learning curve and an unclear concept of green buildings, according to the handbook. These issues in a section titled “Green Development Perceptions and Realities” and dispute arguments that “green” is not financially feasible and hard to justify, the two most cited reasons for not building green.

Full Circle
Many green building concepts a full circle with the early science of building, when common sense was not such a rare commodity. Simple ideas like appropriate site selection and indigenous material use have gained new importance in the green building movement and can be integrated with technologies featuring energy-efficient products and appliances to produce environmentally friendly and comfortable places to live and work. “Green buildings are simply products of intelligent, integrated design that meet or surpass the requirements of any standard development project,” the Building Green paper explains.

Green building research, concepts and products continue to evolve along with increasing public consciousness. The government is increasingly supportive, with establishment of federal agencies such as the U. S. Green Building Council and with an, the stage is indeed set for yet another building “boom,” this time a ‘Green Explosion.’

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Environmental Movers and Shakers

The careers and accomplishments of history’s most influential environmental campaigners

From pioneers of environmentalism to modern-day activists and campaigners, the world has seen many influential environmental movers and shakers who have dedicated their lives to sustainable development and the preservation of nature. Through their work and legacies these outstanding environmentalists have raised the level of environmental consciousness, inspiring millions of people throughout the world to play an active role in stewardship of the environment.

Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964)

Few have left as great a legacy as Rachel Carson, who paved the way for modern environmentalism. Often credited as “the founder of the environmental movement,” Rachel Carson was passionate about the conservation of natural resources, and through her work she had a significant influence on the modern environmentalist movement.

From an early age, Pennsylvania-born Carson had a love of nature that was fertile ground for a career that would alter the course of conservation. She wrote several articles and books on the marvels of nature in her early career as a marine biologist and as editor-in-chief for the US Fish and Wildlife Service publications. Her work expressed the view that “human beings were but one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.”

In 1962, Rachel Carson published a book that documented the hazardous effects of pesticide.  This book, “Silent Spring,” had momentous consequences for the chemical industry.  It challenged the excessive use of chemicals, eventually leading to the ban of the pesticide DDT. The book was met with strong opposition, but Rachel Carson remained unwavering in her belief that new policies should be created to protect the health of our environment and consequently that of mankind.

In his introduction to the reissue of “Silent Spring,” former vice-president and active environmentalist Al Gore says: “Silent Spring planted the seeds of a new activism that has grown into one of the great popular forces of all time. When Rachel Carson died, in the spring of 1964, it was becoming clear that her voice would never be silenced. She had awakened not only our nation but the world.”

John Muir (1838 – 1914)

A pioneer of conservation, John Muir is renowned as the founder of The Sierra Club. “The Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.”

Called “the Father of National Parks”, John Muir was born in Scotland but immigrated to the United States at the age of 11, where he was to become one of the most important figures in Californian history. Inspired by the teachings of environmentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, Muir devoted his life to the protection of wilderness, particularly in the Sierra Mountains, where he felt most at home. Muir’s life was one of adventure and passion. His approach to living is summed up in The Sierra Club motto: Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet.

Muir wrote many essays and books on ecology and on the protection of natural resources, and he was outspoken about his belief that “humans are a part of nature and dependent upon it, and that our ability to alter and destroy nature imposes on us an obligation to protect it.”

During his lifetime John Muir achieved widespread recognition for his conservation work. He used his influence to introduce bills to Congress that contributed to the creation of several national parks including Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mount Rainier. His work also inspired the conservation programs of President Theodore Roosevelt, and via the Sierra Club the legacy of John Muir continues to inspire and encourage environmental campaigners around the world.  Through his efforts he has easily earned recognition as one of history’s most influential environmentalists.

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

Henry David Thoreau was an American naturalist who studied the relationship between nature and man. His friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson had a great influence on Thoreau. Emerson encouraged Thoreau to write down his thoughts, and at Emerson’s urging Thoreau began writing a journal in 1837.

Although he wrote many poems and essays, Henry David Thoreau’s most significant work was “Walden” (or “Life in the Woods”), a memoir of his two years of simple living at Walden Pond. Thoreau used the time to contemplate his life by experiencing the simplicity and splendor of nature. As a transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau believed that nature and God were linked. This view, that there was a direct connection between the soul and the natural world, was reflected in his work. In “Walden,” Thoreau writes: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Walden” demonstrated that humans could live in harmony and tranquility with the environment. The book supports the view that people should live close to nature and dedicate themselves to the preservation and stewardship of the environment. In “Walden” Thoreau wrote: “In wildness is the preservation of the world”.

During his lifetime, Henry David Thoreau was highly criticized for his philosophies and was labeled by some as a cranky hermit in the wild. His work was largely ignored publication after his death in 1862. His writings, including “Walden,” and his journal, which was published after his death, had widespread influence. His writing is studied at schools and universities across the world, making him America’s most notable nature writer.

Although often misunderstood, Henry David Thoreau was able to change the way society viewed man’s relationship with nature. His writings on wilderness preservation have given him the reputation of a true environmental visionary. 

Wangari Maathai (1940 – present)

Wangari Maathai is an environmentalist, activist, writer and politician who made history by being the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace prize in 2004 for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Maathai was born in Ihithe village in Nyeri, Kenya. Surrounded by nature, Wangari Maathai’s upbringing paved the way for her passion for conservation. She became the first woman in East and Central Africa to obtain a doctoral degree in 1971. During her involvement with the National Council of Women of Kenya, she initiated tree-planting projects to conserve the environment.

Her enthusiasm for nature and the environment resulted in the founding of the Green Belt Movement in 1977. This environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) is dedicated to increasing environmental awareness and empowering local communities to make a difference. Through campaigning, educating and empowering, the Green Belt Movement has overseen the planting of over 30 million trees. The end result of these tree-planting projects is the “protection and restoration of habitats for local biodiversity.” Consequently, Wangari Maathai has become affectionately known as “the tree lady.”

Not afraid to speak out about her belief that man has a responsibility to protect the environment, Maathai has been influential in the Kenyan government’s stance on the environment and conservation. From 2003 to 2005 Wangari Maathai held the position of Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife, and has actively campaigned for better stewardship of natural resources.

Wangari Maathai has received enormous recognition for her efforts, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and the Légion d'honneur in 2006.

Maathai continues to inspire people through her work, including her books “Unbowed: A Memoir” and “The Canopy of Hope: My Life Campaigning for Africa, Women and the Environment.

Al Gore (1948 - present)

Al Gore is one of the best-known environmentalists of the modern day. The former vice-president of the United States of America has used his influence and celebrity to increase environmental awareness, particularly on issues surrounding global warming, becoming the contemporary face of climate change activism.

His fascination with the environment began when he attended a course at Harvard University that tackled the topic of global warming. Subsequently during his political career Gore wrote “Earth in Balance.” Published in 1992, the book focuses on ecological problems and how policy-makers can deal with issues such as climate change and global warming. The book became the basis for the 2006 movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is narrated by Gore. The Academy Award-winning movie chronicles the lifework of Al Gore and his efforts to educate the public on climate change and global warming. The stark reality of global warming presented in the film has drawn both widespread praise and criticism. He has been labeled both an environmental hero and a politically motivated individual who has only succeeded in creating hype around the topic of climate change.

Al Gore has tirelessly campaigned for a carbon-neutral society and supports the Tokyo Protocol, which calls for a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. He regularly speaks at public events, conferences and universities. Since his political career came to an end, Al Gore has committed himself to educating the public about the harmful effect that carbon dioxide and other emissions have on the environment. In spite of the criticism leveled at Al Gore, he has steadfastly maintained that the world is facing a crisis and that taking action to stop the progress of global warming in its tracks is not optional, but rather essential.

Norwegian Parliament Member Boerge Brende said of Gore: “Al Gore, like no other, has put climate change on the agenda. Gore uses his position to get politicians to understand…I think climate change is the biggest challenge we face in this century.” His fervor for the topic of global warming has led to numerous environmental awards including Spain’s Prince of Asturias award for international co-operation (awarded specifically for his documentary), as well as 2007 Nobel Prize nomination. Al Gore was also listed at number nine on the Environment Agency’s “Top 100 Green Campaigners of All Time” list.

Though they may not agree with all of his views, even Al Gore’s critics will admit that, given his position and political history as well as his outspoken views, he is certainly one of the world’s most influential environmentalists.

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Eco-Friendly Transportation Designers

Climate change is easily the most heavily-debated issue around the globe in the 21st century, and while decisive state action has not yet materialized, many socially-conscious citizens feel that grassroots action on a global scale is the only way to avoid environmental disaster.
The search for environmentally-friendly methods of transportation that could replace traditional fossil-fuel based cars and carbon-emitting airplanes is just one example of the global attempt to combat climate change – and one that has seen many of the world’s best design and technology professionals stepping up to the podium.

The key problems with current transportation solutions are the dependence on oil-based fuels and the high levels of carbon emissions that are associated with burning these types of fuel. The innovative designers who have worked – and are currently working – to change the face of modern transportation for the good of the environment have kept the reduction of oil dependence and carbon emissions at the center of their agendas, and seek to marry solutions to these problems with outstanding style to form revolutionary transportation designs.

From Bombay to Brighton: The Global Journey of the Rickshaw

Rickshaws – or tuk-tuks, as the motor-powered variety are known – have been in existence in one form or another since the early nineteenth-century and function as essential forms of transport in many parts of the developing world. The original rickshaws were two-wheeled carts pulled by a person on foot, and later innovations saw the pedestrian 'puller' replaced with person on a bike.

Although rickshaws have been banned in a number of developing countries, they are becoming more popular in the environmentally conscious West. These traditional forms of transportation are now found in New York, San Diego, London, Rome and Amsterdam.

Rickshaws are environmentally friendly, not just because they are human-powered, but also because they are small and lightweight and help to combat traffic congestion.

In India, rickshaw travel has been completely revolutionized by ICRIP. The vehicles are now fully recyclable and recycled, and up to 30% lighter thanks to innovative advancements in their construction. Matheran, an area known for its eco-friendliness, has banned motor vehicles and replaced them with human-pulled rickshaws.

Brighton is a coastal area of the UK that was selected as the host for the first trial of a pioneering project to revolutionize public transport across Europe. The city's new fleet of tuk-tuks runs on compressed natural gas, making them virtually carbon-neutral and fully sustainable.

John Jostins and the Microcab

The rickshaw isn't the only option being utilized to address city travel in an eco-friendly way.  John Jostins, a British television and film designer who has worked on Dr. Who, Blackadder, and The Empire Strikes Back, has invented his own solution called the Microcab.

Working on Dennis Potter's Cold Lazarus (in 1995) and designing futuristic vehicles, Jostins's attention was drawn to increasing traffic congestion as well as the lack of innovation in contemporary vehicle design. Two years later he had prepared an initial design for the Microcab.

Jostins began to realize his vision with a DTI grant and the help of a team of twelve students and staff at Coventry University in the UK. The team worked together over several years to develop a prototype of a vehicle that was powered by a sustainable fuel and produced no carbon emissions. The Microcab has no combustion engine and is fueled by electricity created in the reaction between hydrogen and carbon. The resultant exhausr, therefore, is simply water vapor. The Microcab utilizes 'regenerative braking' technology that is able to convert kinetic energy into battery power when braking or descending downhill. It weighs as little as 350kg, and the absence of a combustion engine means that the vehicle is virtually silent.

Safety has long been a key issue in the development of hydrogen engines as hydrogen is much more flammable than fossil fuel, making it a potentially dangerous substance to carry around in moving vehicles! However, the inventors of the Microcab have responded to this problem with a ‘gunfire resistant’ fuel tank and hypersensitive hydrogen-leak detectors on board the vehicle – passing rigorous safety checks and satisfying strict health and safety regulations.

The limited availability of hydrogen fuel and the vehicle's top speed of 30mph are two drawbacks that should not be overlooked, but a series of pilot projects are planned for different cities around the UK, and Jostins hopes to use findings from these trials to refine and improve Microcab's design.

Lee Roebuck and the Air-Powered Engine

Tractor design is an area that has been largely overlooked since the late nineteenth-century, but a 22-year-old student from the north of England has developed a revolutionary design as a part of his final year dissertation. The design is based on the respected David Brown brand and is essentially an air-powered tractor engine, built around an 'air reservoir' that utilizes air compression to power the engine. The innovative design also makes for accurate handling and for the reduction of blind spots.

This air-powered tractor is, again, a slow moving vehicle; but – like Microcab – it forms another important contribution to eco-friendly transportation for commercial sectors in which high speeds are not obligatory. Roebuck's tutor, Rob Leeman, described the design as “a truly environmentally friendly solution to farming in the future.”

GM Advanced Design: Roadworthy Rubbish

One of the most innovative and extraordinary environmentally friendly transport designs we have ever seen was awarded first prize in the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge last year.

GM Advanced responded to the 2006 challenge to design a vehicle that was completely recyclable and built to last no more than sixty months. GM Advanced received first prize for their design of the 'Hummer O2'.

The Hummer's frame, seats and windows are made entirely from recycled materials, and incredibly, its external panels are filled with algae that converts carbon dioxide into pure oxygen and releases it back into the atmosphere. This process of photosynthesis is controlled by valve systems in the door panels that ensures the correct conditions for algae cultivation and oxygen production are maintained.

The Hummer is powered by a hydrogen engine that is integrated into the center of the vehicle, and four fuel cells mounted into the wheels that control separate hydraulic motors. By addressing both the fuel/exhaust problem and the issue of recycling, this vehicle is a true standout – but as most drivers prefer a vehicle that lasts longer than five years, its commercial potential would seem to be limited at best.

The Toyota Prius: The Coolest Alternative to Global Warming

The Toyota Prius is not only the first mass-produced hybrid car, it’s also an über-trendy, A-List celebrity must-have and probably the most successful attempt at making fuel conservation cool.

This unique, 1.5 liter hybrid car (first released on to the market in Japan in 1997) can run solely on its battery for periods of time, but it still requires the burning of fossil fuel for acceleration – so it represents an excellent step forward on a journey to environmental balance that is not yet complete. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated the fuel consumption rates of the Toyota Prius at 45-48mpg, and the engine is designed to reduce the volume of gasoline vapor that escapes, so it is certainly a far less polluting vehicle than any other of its size and engine capacity.

The Prius has numerous intelligent design features, but one of the best is its ‘stealth mode.’ This is the automatic engine shut-down (and switch to electric power) that is enacted when the car requires less energy – such as at stoplights, when sailing down a hill, or when crawling through heavy traffic. The Prius' frame and tires are designed to reduce air resistance, making it more energy efficient, but it also has the ability to capture the kinetic energy when braking or traveling downhill (energy that is wasted in most vehicles) which it uses to recharge the battery.

There has been some debate in the press following accusations by journalist Chris Demorro that nickel mining and smelting by Toyota in the area surrounding their Ontario factory has caused environmental devastation. Demorro described the Prius factory as “the plague factory,” and cited Toyota’s nickel farming as the cause of “acid rain . . . so bad it destroyed all the plants and soil”. Toyota has vehemently denied these claims, asserting that the damage “occurred more than thirty years ago, long before the Prius was made” – and that, in fact, the company has made a real commitment to rejuvenating the area. The spokesman claims that the company has overseen the planting of 11 million trees in the region, has reduced destructive emissions by 90%, and has received an award from the Ontario Ministry for Environment for doing so.

Intelligent Energy, Seymourpowell and the ENV

The ENV (Emissions Neutral Vehicle) is the result of a project by Intelligent Energy, designer Seymourpowell, and manufacturer Suzuki to develop a lightweight, emission-free motorcycle powered by fuel cell technology.

The sleek, stylish motorcycle has a top speed of 50mph and is entirely powered by electricity and hydrogen. Its engine is almost completely silent, and it produces emissions that are literally drinkable! But the pinnacle of its innovative design is the detachable fuel cell that is the heart of the vehicle.

The fuel cell can be removed and used to power almost any other type of machine, according to the designers, “anything from a motorboat to a small domestic property.” The cell – or 'the Core', as it is called – is a 1kW generator, but the bike also features a 6kW battery pack for use during acceleration. The ENV is remarkably fuel efficient, functioning at an average rate of 100mpg – or roughly four hours riding on a full tank. The bike's frame and swing arm are entirely crafted from lightweight aluminum, and the bike is made even easier to handle by a simple throttle (in place of gears) and a finely balanced power-to-weight ratio.

As Seymourpowell's director, Nick Talbot, put it “The bike is usable, useful and great-looking. It was important on this project to demonstrate that new technologies don’t have to be wrapped up in a dull product.”

Intelligent Energy are currently working towards the production of cars and other multi-passenger vehicles based on the ENV’s design – but have also set their sights on the much larger project of distributing the fuel cell for use in remote or undeveloped parts of the world where electricity is less readily available.

David Birkenstock and the Future of Air Travel

As a major contributor of carbon emissions, the flight industry has begun to participate in serious research into new, fuel-efficient aircraft design, and much of the debate is centered on 'laminar flow'.

Laminar flow is the name given to the 'flow' of air that covers the surface of the aircraft. It is this 'blanket' of air that creates much of the craft's drag, or resistance, thus creating the need for more acceleration and more fuel. Laminar flow control describes the objective of various methods for reducing this drag and conserving energy.

David Birkenstock is an aircraft pilot who has taken this general idea and combined it with an idea for a more aerodynamic craft, seeking to lead a revolution in environmentally friendly air travel. His design essentially advocates the replacement of the usual tapered rear fuselage of the aircraft with a cone-shaped rear, and the integration of a 'pressure thrust' engine to override the thrust of the air resistance – in short, the thrust engine exploits the energy created by air motion and pressure and uses it to propel the aircraft forward. Birkenstock believes that the thrust engine would be sufficient to carry the aircraft at cruise speed, meaning that the main engines could essentially be running at 'idle' once this speed is achieved, for an estimated 20% savings in fuel consumption.

Birkenstock concedes that there is still a large amount of research required to support his theories, but they have still formed an important part of the contemporary eco-friendly aircraft design debate – and his insistence on the value of combining aerodynamics with thermodynamics for the conception of a twenty-first century aircraft could be just the inspiration the flight industry is looking for.

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Pioneering Educators

Amongst pioneers there are sometimes ‘super pioneers’ - a few who stand head and shoulders above the rest. In the field of education they were two such pioneers who, when the sky was dark, illuminated the way forward for humankind. They were John Amos Comenius and Maria Montessori.

John Amos Comenius (1592-1670)
Hailed as the ‘Father of Modern Education’ and ‘Teacher of Nations,’ John Amos Comenius (Jan Amos Komensky in the original Czech) was born in Nivnice, Moravia – now part of the Czech Republic – on March 28, 1592. Comenius lost his family when he was twelve, and was subsequently raised by guardians. His keen love for learning resulted in his being sent to Herborn, a progressive higher educational institution located in Hesse, by the Friends in the Unity. Comenius also studied philosophy and theology at the University of Heidelberg.

Perhaps it was at this stage that the seeds were sown for his philosophy of Pansophism (‘all knowledge’) - a belief that the quest for higher learning and spiritual enlightenment are bound together, that an appropriate system of education leads to knowledge, that knowledge leads to understanding, and that understanding leads to universal peace.

In 1618 (the same year as the outbreak of the 30-year war), Comenius started working first as a parochial school principal and then as a pastor in Fulneck, Moravia. It was a mere two years later that he had to flee for his life when the Protestant army was defeated by the Catholics during the Battle of White Mountain. For the seven years that followed, Comenius was constantly on the run, finding refuge in caves and deserted huts. Three years after going into hiding, Comenius completed ‘The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart’ (1623), a work depicting the life and times of an exile in the early 17th century. Around 1627, the already pressured Comenius was devastated by an even more personal blow when his wife and children died from the Plague.

In 1628, he led a small group of fugitives into Poland. He remarried, and during the brief respite he enjoyed in Leszno, Poland, Comenius wrote ‘The School of Infancy’ (1631), and ‘The Gate to Languages Unlocked’ (1632).

‘The School of Infancy’ focused on the early years of a child’s education and showed his predisposition towards education for all – regardless of gender and social standing. Comenius' legacy in the area of early childhood education includes the following:

  • He observed that the position of the present moment in time, in its relation to the past and the future, needs to be taught to children in the small increments first and then larger ones. In other words, a child needs to grasp the concept of tomorrow and yesterday before he or she can grasp last week / next week, last month / next month or last year / next year.
  • Comenius believed that the child’s immediate, familiar surroundings should be the starting point when teaching geography. He maintained that teaching should begin where the child is, and then gradually circle out to include knowledge of wider surroundings. In this way the greater world is related back to the child’s immediate world, resulting in a better understanding on the part of the child.
  • Comenius believed that nature should be the first form of science to be taught to young children. His rationale was that children have an affinity with nature, and so will more readily grasp it as the foundation of further study of science.
  • In teaching arithmetic, Comenius held that understanding the relationships between numbers is critical to mastering the more complicated mathematical concepts. These relationships include many and few, large and little, big and small, more and less. He also encouraged counting as it creates familiarity with the sequencing of numbers and supports the child’s mastering of relationship concepts.

All of these observations revolve around his concept that a child has to work with familiar and concrete materials to learn, and that only once this is mastered will a child be able to successfully grasp abstract concepts and concepts dealing with the unknown.

Comenius also believed that all books should be produced in the common language of the people to make knowledge freely available.  It was a belief he already held while he was in high school, which saw him starting out in 1612 with the compilation of root words in the Bohemian language. Two years later, in 1614, Comenius took it upon himself to improve the method of student instruction by documenting some simple grammatical rules. These were published in Prague in 1616. This was also the year that his book ‘Divine Theater’ was published in the native Bohemian language. ‘The Gate to Languages Unlocked’ (1632) is the culmination of Comenius’ deep seated conviction that education should be presented in the vernacular language of students rather than in the customary and mandatory Latin.

His subsequent book, 'The Way of Light' (1641), deviated from his educational focus on children specifically, and encapsulated a universal plan for education and peace instead. Unbeknown to Comenius, his works were being read and taken seriously by others throughout Europe. The seeds were planted, and he was invited to London in 1641 to assist with establishing a school. This was sadly halted by the outbreak of the Irish rebellion. In 1642 he received invitations from France, Holland and Sweden. He chose Sweden, as he believed that he could influence Swedish chancellor Oxenstierna to help the Bohemian people. However, Oxenstierna declined to be influenced, and Comenius moved on to Prussia until the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648. Although the treaty helped to end the war, it was of no consequence to the Bohemians, who remained oppressed.

Comenius’ work was not done. He moved on to Hungary, back to Poland, and finally to Holland, where he passed away in 1670. During the last 20 years of his life, Comenius published two additional major works on education, both of which had a profound impact on modern education: The Great Didactic (1657) and Orbis Pictus (1658).

The Great Didactic (sometimes interpreted as The Whole Art of Teaching) explored the learning process and suggested how teaching should take place from infancy through to university and even beyond. The principles put forward by Comenius in this work included:

  • Education for all: He held that education should not be limited to an elite few and that all people need to be educated regardless of gender, social status, financial background, geographical location, or ability.
  • Education is a natural process: Comenius put forward that people are naturally curious and that all people enjoy exploring and experiencing something new. For this reason, people are by nature susceptible to learning. He also reiterated that education should relate to the natural world and should be made practical and understandable – especially initially – to stimulate the mind, to increase enjoyment, and to create a hunger for more learning.
  • Education should take place in stages: Comenius compared educational progression to scaling a rock face. He held that if a student is offered the appropriate resources (his analogy referred to ladders), at the appropriate times and in the appropriate places, and if the teacher offered the appropriate support (he compared this support to hand railings), then the student would become all that he or she can be.
  • Education should involve play: Comenius put forward that information gleaned through activities or play – regardless of the student’s age – can be useful and relevant. He encouraged movement and exercise believing, like the Romans did, that a healthy body is needed to achieve a healthy mind.
  • Education as a lifelong process: Like Aristotle, Comenius believed that the capacity of the mind is limitless, and he encouraged adults to continue learning beyond their university years.

Orbis Pictus (1658) was the first text book ever for children that made use of illustrations to support the material presented. The book contained 150 chapters and covered topics such as religion, zoology, inert nature, botany, and humans. By 1685 the book had been published in Latin, German, English, Italian, French, Czech and Hungarian.

Considering when John Amos Comenius lived, his philosophies were revolutionary and even dangerous. Many of his contemporaries ended up burning at the stake for less. His work struck a chord with numerous philosophers who came after him, including one Maria Montessori.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
Maria Montessori was born in a small town on the Adriatic Sea in the same year that Italy became one nation. The spirit of optimism in the new country gave hope to women, including Montessori. She had an active interest in mathematics and technical subjects in school, and actually wanted to study engineering but ultimately decided on medicine. This was unheard of, and she had to battle a strong prejudice against her presence, but she was as brilliant as she was courageous and she eventually graduated with high marks.

As a new doctor, her researches sometimes took her to psychiatric clinics where she saw many children with learning disabilities placed there simplu for lack of other options. The inhumane treatment of these children troubled her, and she began to read everything she could find on the education of the mentally handicapped. She made an in-depth study of the work of Comenius, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel, and she adapted their theories for her own use.

Because Montessori wanted to help those who were called “idiot” children, she also studied the writings of Frenchmen who had pioneered work in that area, Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin. Itard, a doctor born a century before Montessori, had treated children with special cognitive needs, particularly deafness. Seguin, who had studied with Itard, founded schools for those termed idiots both in France and the United States. The unique methods Seguin developed for educating children historically deemed to be un-trainable seemed to Montessori to hold promise for the children in the insane asylums. She was convinced that education, not medicine, would improve their lives.

Shortly after, she was speaking at conferences about the need to educate children with learning disabilities, after which she became director of a teacher-training institute in the field of special education in Italy. Pulling her ideas from Comenius, Froebel and others, Montessori experimented with teaching materials and activities, succeeding so well that her 8-year-old “defectives”  eventually did as well as, or better than, normal children in state examinations for reading and writing.

Montessori got the opportunity to test her educational ideas with children of normal intelligence when she was asked to start a daycare center. Success came quickly as she experimented with methods and materials.

Just as Pestalozzi’s and Froebel’s teacher–training institutes had attracted enthusiastic students from afar, so did Montessori’s. Several Americans learned Italian for the purpose of attending, and in the early years of the 20th century Montessori schools began to blossom in the country. Soon after, however, they were denounced by influential scholars and for a time almost disappeared. There was a rebirth in the late 1950s, when American society became newly concerned about academic learning for young children, and Montessori schools have remained ever since.

The Montessori Method is based on the notion that one should ‘follow the child.’  This means providing a natural, aesthetically pleasing environment where the child can be observed, an environment that can be continually adapted to fulfill the child’s latent potential on his or her physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental levels.

Montessori saw the role of the teacher more as that of a guide, even for traditional subjects such as science, mathematics and history. She discovered that children between the ages of 6 and 12 respond positively to open-ended research, and she found that by pursuing their individual interests, a much higher level of education was achieved than would be expected of children of this age group. The group dynamics between the older and younger children in the 6 to 12 group encourage and inspire learning as the children teach one another and master academic subjects beyond the levels required.

Montessori also noted that children between the ages of 12 and 15 were dealing with physical and hormonal changes, required more sleep, and were less able to effectively cope academically. She called this group the Erdkinder unit and moved their education closer to nature through offering them practical work instead. During this period, intellectual work was less intense.

She also discovered that by age 15, these Erdkinder normally reestablish their equilibriums. As a result, between ages 15 and 18, a demanding intellectual schedule is reinstated; social responsibility awareness is created; and the acquisition of practical skill sets is encouraged.

The Montessori Method is only successful if the child is dealt with holistically under the guidance of a trained Montessori teacher. The method requires academic work, practical work, interacting with the environment and humans within the environment in a caring manner, taking responsibility for the environment and others within the environment, and respecting co-students’ need to work uninterrupted. The Montessori Method delivers adults that are academically, emotionally and spiritually miles ahead of their same-age counterparts.

Maria Montessori’s last years were spent in exile from Italy as a result of Mussolini’s reign of terror. She continued traveling during World War II, thereby ensuring the establishment of Montessori schools in India and the Netherlands, and then she passed away in 1952.

Even now the Montessori Method is ahead of its time, and Montessori herself and remains an active pioneer through the efforts of her followers. Her method is still relentlessly pushing at the boundaries of mainstream education and its perceived outdated methods and approaches. The pressure on the establishment will perhaps increase over time as a growing number of students, teachers and parents realize that many of the problems associated with education today may well be addressed with this proven alternate method of instruction.

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High-Tech, High Touch

An alarming rise of childhood obesity. Chat rooms. Speed dating. School violence. Longer work hours. Disconnection from neighbors. Availability 24-7. Everything faster, constant, now. Technological advancements are linked with both positive and negative community trend lines.

An exploration of the societal impact of humanity vs. technology is the crux of futurist John Naisbitt’s 1999 book High-Tech, High-Touch: Technology & Our Search for Meaning. In this collaboration with his daughter Nana along with Douglas Philips, Naisbitt’s High-Tech, High-Touch outlines the influence of society’s use and abuse of technology on the slipping concept of community, among other topics.

High-Tech, High-Touch also asserts possibilities exist for society to balance technology with humanity, and offers models that allow people to utilize technology to bolster actual (not virtual) communities and face-to-face social interaction. Naisbitt’s credentials as a futurist are well-established, with credits including his 1994 book, Global Paradox (England's World Review Award for The Best Book of The Year), the best-selling Megatrends series and his latest book, Mind Set!, published in October 2006. The people behind Bicycle City drew from Naisbitt’s High-Tech, High-Touch model in order to instill both modern technological conveniences and a strong sense of community into the development concept.

Potential Problem
“An ‘a-ha’ book of the first order” High-Tech, High- Touch provides “valuable insight into important technological, social, cultural and artistic developments… blurred by an ever-accelerating world of our own creation,” explains Carl Goodman, Curator of the American Museum of the Moving Image, in a description of the book.

High-Tech, High-Touch questions the insidious potential side-effect of technology: namely, had increased ability to maintain “contact” virtually created a regressive, introverted people that have simply forgotten how to interact with each other? Think about the last time you walked down the street and actually made eye contact with a complete stranger and said hello. Would you feel apprehension or even fear if a stranger initiated such ‘innocent’ contact? Perhaps relying on a car for transportation to even nearby locations is due to foreboding potential existing on the street. Air pollution, noise pollution and a lessening respect for the environment don’t lend to the urge to walk or bike from A to B.

Naisbitt focuses on these topics and others that he feels are stripping away humanity in High-Tech, High-Touch such as the well-documented effect of violent video games in desensitizing children. But it isn’t all gloom; the New York Times best-selling author of 1982 Megatrends seeks to balance technological abilities with sociological needs. “Naisbitt’s goal is to motivate and inspire his audience to see the future as something we can have access to, if we deliberately develop mindsets as a tool to see and evaluate the seeds and signs of change, which in time will build the future,” Naisbitt’s biography notes.

Naisbitt believes the time is now to see the development of our cities and towns in their true light. While the path of least resistance to keep rolling with the trends, Naisbitt broaches no question of the natural (and unsavory) progression for our communities if we do not seek to make conscious change.

A shift in the way we design our communities and view the world around us is one method by which Naisbitt believes we can stop the downward spiral of our environment and society. He asserts the ability to have the best of both the technological world designed in a natural social city environment is found in a responsible balance between the two.

Balancing Act
Leave it Disney to find the ability to blend humanity and technology. Naisbitt dedicates a High-Tech, High-Touch chapter to the unique ability of technology to more closely connect communities. He cites the community of Celebration, Fla., founded in 1994, with “a commitment to community, education, health, technology, and a sense of place,” according to the community website.

Celebration serves as a roadmap of Naisbitt’s theory. The town has a 1930’s ambience complete with quaint homes and small-town-appeal, but is fully-wired and Internet ready for all residents and is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. Yet its core values lie in the town’s ambience and feel, including outdoor activities, social gatherings and an overall sense of communal and environmental responsibility.

Each Celebration resident receives access to the Internet and a password to a local “Front Porch” Intranet to keep up-to-date on community events and happenings. The community includes a state-of-the-art hospital campus as well as biking and hiking trails, community pools, golf and parks.

The town was created to provide residents the best of both worlds, with access to technology as well as downtown meeting areas, roads lined with benches and cozy, custom homes from several renowned architects. Currently accepting new residents, Celebration, Fla., shows how planners can utilize technology to focus on enriching people’s lives.

Naisbitt’s tech-to-touch theory is also applied in academic settings, including the University of Arizona’s new McClelland Park building, as outlined in Arizona Land and People, a publication of the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, (Susan McGinley, Spring 2006)

Due to its rapid growth over the past decade, overcrowding is prevalent at the Norton School at the University of Arizona. The building’s design additionally lacks common areas, so does not allow for gathering of faculty or students. The new building, funded entirely by private donations, will offer 70,000 square feet of high-tech auditoriums, classrooms, lounges and outdoor plazas, allowing for access to both the latest advancements in technology and the ability for social interaction and relaxation.

Access to technology like videoconferencing, wireless networks and multimedia, will allow instructors to present their material in the most effective way, the article notes. The various meeting and common areas will allow students and faculty to exchange ideas, conduct research and make professional contacts. “Stepping in off the street, the lobby area will impart a neighborhood business street feeling — corporate, yet friendly,” Soyeon Shim, the Norton School director, says in the report. He explains that the building’s entire first floor layout, which encompasses then outdoor Lakin Family Plaza, is designed to foster place for social, professional and academic interaction, tying into dual family issue and retailing emphasis of the building.

The University of Arizona applied the concept of High-Tech, High-Touch to design of the Norton School building, using the technology as a tool for learning. The technology is utilized to enhance the schools environment, while at the same time the building allows ample space for social interaction, indoors or out.

Strong Potential
Technology and education can go hand in hand when “technology is used strategically,” notes a paper by Jamie McKenzie of the Educational Technology Journal exploring technology use in schools.

McKenzie employs the High Tech, High Touch concept, and stresses the importance of the key word ‘strategically.’ McKenzie focuses of the administrations roll in both employing and assessing the effects of the use of technology in the classroom. Do scores improve? Is more research and development necessary? Is students learning time being utilized to its best ability? Does the staff have the knowledge necessary to answer students’ technology questions? By keeping a tight rein on the uses of technology, McKenzie feels that it can be used to the benefits of both the students and the school district.

In general, academia supports the use of technology as a strong tool for communication and access to information. Use of technology is a way to foster contact between students and educators, Gustavo Pellon, a Spanish professor at the University of Virginia, tells the school’s monthly A&S Online magazine produced by the U of Va. College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (March 2002, by Lisa Corell Auerbach).

The University of Virginia is one of many universities and colleges to utilize an on-line “Instructional Toolkit.” This toolkit allows technological support of classroom teaching as well as online registration, class changes, major updates or graduation verification and other administrative tasks and informational uses designed to aid both students and faculty.
Pellon reports students’ use of email for communication with him as well as in classmate collaborations has increased their ability to learn and to use their knowledge outside of class. He likewise notes that use of email acts as a spring-board for student learning, prompting follow-up-discussions in class and accelerating hands-on-interest in the subject matter.

Another positive application of technology in education is the use of the Internet for distance learning. Until recently, the only way to acquire a college degree or even to complete a GED for high school was by physically attending classes on a campus. With online classes, it is possible for students to complete some or all of their credits via the Internet to obtain certifications or degrees. Considering the extended workweek faced by much of the U.S. population these days, the ability to continue education online makes higher education possible for those otherwise able to attend a ‘traditional’ school due to scheduling constraints.

Community Environment
Strategic uses of technology can be applied to city or community environment. Tempered use of available technology and a continual assessment of its benefits or detriments to both the society and environment could help society get closer to Naisbitt’s model.

In High-Tech, High-Touch, Naisbitt prompts the reader to act on the information by examining the technology-driven changes in our society. In short, he demands readers accept that we, as people, are responsible for these trends, to understand that it is within our power and to our benefit to take action to find balance in our lives. While technology is the tool, it’s how we wield it that matters.

The questions Naisbitt presents to his reader provide a roadmap to how we can find a better way of life. We have the backdrop for a more beneficial way of looking at the design, both environmentally and socially, of our cities and towns. Architects are beginning to widely employ these ideals with the support of private, corporate and institutional clients. If we keep in mind that the ultimate goal is the fulfillment of life and emotional contentment, it should be possible to find a way to integrate technology and its powerful tools to the benefit of the local and global community.

Lou Schuler, Amazon.com book reviewer is among the legions who believe ”the reader will probably take some sort of action after finishing High Tech/High Touch: switching off the cell phone for a few hours a day; permanently locking away the children's violent Nintendo games; maybe even booking a vacation at the most remote location possible. Anything to get away from the constant buzz of a wired world.”

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Pioneers in Animal Advocacy

The struggle for animal rights is more than 2000 years old. Between 800 BC and 450 BC, the likes of Hesiod, Pythagoras and Empedocles campaigned for the humane treatment of animals in their writings. After that Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas More, William Shakespeare, John Locke, Alexander Pope, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, John Oswald, Charles Daubeny, Robert Burns, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelly were among the ranks of those who continued this campaign – each promoting animal rights in their own unique way.

Pioneering Law Makers

Between 273 BC and 1822, there were a few isolated lawmakers who managed to pass some laws in an attempt to reduce cruelty towards animals – sometimes as a specific focus and sometimes as a part of the job. They were Emperor Asoka, Thomas Wentworth, Nathanial Ward and Richard ‘Humanity Dick’ Martin.

Emperor Asoka
It was in India between 273 and 232 BC that Emperor Asoka passed the first known legislation to protect animals. Emperor Asoka was a Buddhist and a vegetarian in accordance with the nonviolent doctrine of ‘ahimsa.’ In the course of making this doctrine a guiding force in the law of the land, he made provisions for medical treatment of the people, he had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals, he promoted kindness and abstinence from killing fellow living beings, and he specifically forbade the slaughter and offering of living beings (including animals) in sacrifice.

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford
Zoom forward 1,400 years:  The place was Ireland, the year was 1635, and the unlikely legislator was Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford.

The law Wentworth passed was entitled “An Act against Plowing by the Tayle, and pulling the Wooll off living Sheep”. This law made it illegal to plough or work horses by the tail, and to pull off the wool from living sheep, instead of shearing or clipping – with one of the justifications of the law being the prevention of cruelty to animals, a concept that had previously not been employed in British law. Wentworth was an unlikely proponent of this legislation because by all accounts he was much more consumed with the intrigues of politics and the pursuit of power than with making a difference in progressive causes, so either this was an aberrant issue of compassion for him or he saw some way to profit from pushing it through.  Either way, it was a momentous event in the advancement of animal rights.  Unfortunately for Wentworth, his avarice eventually angered bigger players, and subsequently landed him in the Tower of London where he remained until his execution in 1641.

Nathaniel Ward
Cut to North America just five years later.  Nathaniel Ward was a Puritan who fled England in 1634. He was educated to be a barrister and raised to be a minister in his father's footsteps, and he pursued both with passion. In 1941, while residing in the colony of Massachusetts, Ward wrote “The Body of Liberties,” which was the first code of laws established in New England. It was a fairly progressive code for its day and was based on the premise that justice and law are necessary for liberty to exist.

‘The Body of Liberties’ also addressed animal rights. It contained the first anti-cruelty law in the United States - “Off the Bruite Creature” – which not only forbade "Tirranny or Crueltie" towards domesticated animals, but also mandated rest for livestock during long-range cattle drives.

Colonel Richard "Humanity Dick" Martin
Almost 200 years later, back in Ireland, an politician known as Colonel Richard "Humanity Dick" Martin added his name to the list of significant contributors to the cause.

Richard Martin was born in Dublin, Ireland. His nickname ‘Humanity Dick,’ given to him by his friend King George IV, was not frivolous. Martin was a humanitarian, and he was greatly disturbed by the manner in which animals were treated by their guardians. Via persistent campaigning and with the help of numerous influential friends he contributed heavily to the passage of the "Act to prevent the cruel and improper Treatment of Cattle" on the in July of 1822. The act outlawed the cruel treatment of “…Horses, Mares, Geldings, Mules, Asses, Cows, Heifers, Steers, Oxen, Sheep, and other Cattle…”. Offenders could be fined a sum between Ten Shillings and Five Pounds. Those unable to pay could be imprisoned for a period of up to three months, without bail.

His contribution did not stop with legislation. Martin was present at the formation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Slaughter’s, a London coffee shop, in June 1824. Throughout his life, Martin worked hard at abolishing bear baiting and dog fighting, both of which he found abominable. It was however only in the year after his death, in 1835, that the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in London making both bear baiting and dog fighting, amongst others, illegal.  In spite of this Act, the cruel ‘sport’ of dog fighting enjoys a large underground following, so exposing dog fight syndicates is high on the agenda for many of the animal rights organizations today.

Pioneering Animal Rights Organizations
Animal rights campaigning has changed a lot since Col. Martin’s day. Dissatisfied with the results of animal rights advances achieved by working within the legal and judicial systems, independent organizations have formed to advance the cause through more aggressive means. Two of these groups will receive our attention next.

Habitat Integrated
Habitat Integrated is one of those quiet organizations that works unfalteringly and without much in the way of a budget to combat one of the most heinous animal sports still in existence today – bear baiting.

Inayatullah Chaudhry, the founder of Habitat Integrated, was a conservationist by profession. As Chief Conservator of Forests in the Punjab Government, and wildlife game warden he watched, over a period of 40 years how the wildlife if Pakistan was disappearing. It was his concern around the near extinction of some of the bear species that led him to take up arms on the side of the WSPA and WWF to try and save these awe-inspiring animals. He was instrumental in assisting these two organizations in their exposé of bear baiting in the Punjab and Sindh regions.

After the viewing shocking footage and reports on bear baiting in the media in 1993, Chaudhry realized that this horrific practice was far from over. He teamed up with Dr. Mohammad Ashraf and a few of his former colleagues to establish Habit Integrated. When the bear baiting legislation so desperately sought by Chaudhry was passed, he found that it was not sufficient to resolve the problem, that it could not eradicate bear baiting completely, and that it merely made the fight against this inhumane ‘sport’ worse. The result of legislation was the same as with dog fighting – the activity simply went underground.

It was a monumental obstacle course right from the start. Chaudhry’s research led him to identify a whole chain of people involved in bear baiting: wildlife dealers, trainers, baiting event hosts, and spectators, to name a few.  The event hosts were mostly influential feudal landlords who sought to demonstrate their social standing and to win votes from their rural constituencies. Chaudhry decided to work with these feudal lords first, as they were clearly the ones paying for the events, but most of them refused to stop the practice. Through the few who did agree, Chaudhry learned the identities of bear baiters in Sindh and Punjab. These impoverished gypsy baiters or qalandars were initially unwilling to cooperate, as bear-baiting was a livelihood they were unwilling to relinquish, but Chaudhry persevered.

He decided to find alternative employment for the qalandars. To this end, Habitat established a training center for qalandar women where they were taught a variety of handcrafts.  However, this novel attempt at career retraining didn't really have a long-term effect, as many of the trainees preferred their former gypsy life and the excitement and freedom the vocation of bear baiting afforded them.

Habitat Integration’s efforts did not focus solely on the baiters, but also on the government. A major breakthrough was made when, in 1997, the government eventually granted land to be used as a bear sanctuary in Kund Park, located on the junction of the River Kabul and River Indus at Attock. Kund Park provides sanctuary to the bears confiscated from qalandars and bear dealers. It also serves to create awareness with the public around animal rights.

Chaudhry died in April 1999, leaving his son Khalid to bear the Habitat torch. Their battle far from over, Habitat continues the complicated mission of removing bears from unnecessary human influence. The organization believes that severing these ties is the only way to completely eradicate bear baiting and to safeguard the continued existence of bears in the wilds of Pakistan.

Habitat’s gentle, collaborative and holistic approach to the problem - working with conservation bodies, the government, and the bear baiting supply chain alike -  may still result in success, but it's an ongoing battle.

Not all animal rights organizations have that level of patience though. Some are extremists, and when the word ‘extremist’ is used, the outrageous Ingrid Newkirk and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization immediately come to mind.

PETA

Ingrid Newkirk was born in 1949 in England. She spent much of her childhood in India, before moving to the USA with her father. She became involved with an animal shelter in 1972, which set the course of her career going forward. She eventually left the shelter to take up the position of animal-cruelty investigator for the county. Rising through the ranks, Newkirk finished her Public Health Commission career as Head of the Office of Animal-Disease Control in 1980.

That was the year that Newkirk and Alex Pacheco, who originally worked with her at the shelter, founded PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). From the outset, PETA meant business. Newkirk’s actions swung between extremism and fanaticism. Her controversial methods have included flour-bombing fur designers and wearers such as Julien Macdonald, J Lo and Paris Hilton; breaking into laboratories; serving a dead raccoon to the Vogue magazine editor, Anna Wintour; and spraying fake blood-soaked money over an audience at the Parisian Fur Fair. This is just a small sampling of the exploits of Newkirk as part of PETA. The radical stance of the organization attracted the attention of the FBI, who has been investigating them for some time now. PETA even features on the FBI’s list of domestic terrorist organizations, something Newkirk is not perturbed about in the very least.

Despite Newkirk’s extremism, PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world today, and the inroads they have made in terms of campaigning for animal rights have been substantial, including:

  • Closure of the US Department of Defense wound lab, where some of the wound experiments entailed firing missiles into dog and goats.
  • Ban obtained on the shooting of dogs and cats in the US Department of Defense wound lab;
  • Persuaded major cosmetics companies, including Avon and Mary Kay, to stop animal testing of household products and cosmetics via the efforts of their Compassion Campaign;
  • Convinced McDonald’s Corporation, and later on several of the large supermarket chains, to requirement that their suppliers adhere to the humane treatment of animals during raising and slaughter;
  • Secured the first ever conviction of a scientist on charges of cruelty to animals as the result of a hidden-camera investigation in the Silver Spring research laboratory.

Via these successes and many others, PETA – and Newkirk in particular – have earned a reputation as forceful pioneers who have been making a substantial impact – both in combating institutionalized cruelty to animals and in raising public awareness about animals’ plight.  While many may question their methods, there's simply no denying what they've accomplished.

These are only some of the many awe-inspiring pioneers who have made it their lives’ work to protect animals. There are many more quietly going about their business every day while making a difference, usually for no or little compensation or recognition. Their only reward in most instances is the knowledge that they have made the world a better place.

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Designing Great Cities & Communities

The Brilliant Careers of History’s Most Influential Eco-oriented Architects and Planners

By Randy Craig, Bicycle City Contributor
May 23, 2007

builders
Green building—the eco-friendly practice of constructing buildings with a dedication to efficient use of energy and materials as well as a reduction of the building’s impact on the environment—has sought to achieve a harmony between structures and their surroundings. Also known as sustainable building or environmental building, the green building movement has been shaped by over the decades by numerous influential practitioners. In America, the beginnings were founded by Frank Lloyd Wright and his “organic architecture,” principles further built upon by R. Buckminster Fuller; Sim Van der Ryn; Edward Mazria; and Tom Bender. Bicycle City is a place that aims to utilize some of the concepts these top thinkers have given our world.

Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright coined the term “organic architecture” to describe his philosophy of creating a building that is harmoniously integrated into its surroundings, so that together they can be seen as a unified composition. His thoughts were a precursor to green building of today. Inspired by his upbringing in rural Wisconsin, Wright consistently preached the beauty of native materials and insisted that buildings grow naturally from their surroundings, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. His work inspired more open designs that freed people from the restrictive Victorian layouts of the 19th century.

Wright intuitively sensed the “essential interdependence of architecture and the natural environment,” notes a 2000 National Forum article by Robert Burns. The architect frequently used renewable materials for his residential buildings, built living gardens around them, and designed them to be lit and warmed by the sun. Perhaps his most dramatic demonstration of architecture in harmony with nature is the Pennsylvania house for E.J. Kaufman Sr. commonly known as Fallingwater. Wright’s ecological sensitivity clearly mirrors Green Architecture’s concern with the planet’s limited capacities and resources.

Wright’s “Usonian” style evolved from his famous “prairie style,” according to Jackie Craven, author of “Your Guide to Architecture.” The Usonian homes were designed to control costs and make abundant use of natural materials, Craven notes.. Features in the Usonian designs—open plans, slab-on-grade foundations and simplified construction techniques—led to greater efficiencies in building. The Madison, Wis., house known as Jacobs II best exemplifies the Usonian ideal. The house was a pioneer in passive solar design, according to Don Gunning, keeper of the Oak Park Architectural database. The house was built as a half circle, with the back wall to the north protected from winter winds by a berm that reached nearly to the top of the wall. The south façade, with its large windows and glass doors, was open to catch the winter sun, enhancing the gravity heat inside the floor. An overhanging roof shielded the house from summer sun.

R. Buckminster Fuller
dome
Known as one of the world’s first futurists and global thinkers, R. Buckminster Fuller’s ideas about sustainability and conservation contributed to the green building movement. He is considered one of the fathers of environmental design. Fuller is perhaps best recognized as the creator of the geodesic dome, one of the most “green” structures ever invented. The Buckminster Fuller Institute called the geodesic dome “the lightest, strongest, most cost-effective structure ever devised.” More than 300,000 have been built since Fuller invented the first in 1949, including such recognizable buildings as Epcot Center in Walt Disney World in Florida and the U.S. Pavilion at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal.

Fuller devised the geodesic dome and his other industrially produced housing prototypes in response to the trend toward expensive, resource-intensive housing, according to BFI. His aim was to make adequate shelter available to all of humanity, the institute said. Part of his drive to achieve this goal is linked to the 1922 death of his four-year-old daughter from polio and spinal meningitis, according to Design-Technology.org. Fuller blamed the child’s illnesses and subsequent death on poor housing conditions; he was bankrupt and jobless in 1922.

In 1927, Fuller founded the 4-D Company in New York to develop design solutions that required a minimal consumption of energy and materials. In addition to the geodesic dome, Fuller designed a mass-produced, prefabricated house that was environmentally sensitive. Dubbed a “Dymaxion” house (for Dynamic Maximum Tension), it was heated and cooled by natural means, generated its own power, was earthquake- and storm-proof, and constructed of materials that needed no maintenance, according to the documentary “Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud”. The design allowed for the floor plan to be changed easily (to accommodate large parties, for instance). Houses were to be leased and paid off within five years—priced much like automobiles, the documentary said. Though 38,000 orders for Dymaxion homes came in, Fuller’s design tinkering led the project to be shelved. By the time Fuller finalized the design, the company that was to build the houses was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Sim Van der Ryn
Fuller was one of the primary influences of Sim Van der Ryn, who met Fuller when he was a visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan. Fuller’s ideas on “creating flexible, sustainable structures by combining technology with models of good design found in nature, like geodesics, were a gestalt to an inquisitive mind,” wrote Cheryl Weber in a 2005 Residential Architect magazine story.

The work of Sim Van der Ryn and his firm, Van der Ryn Architects in Sausalito, Calif., has raised the profile of sustainable architecture. Van der Ryn was born in Holland; his family fled the war-torn country in 1939 and settled in Manhattan. Van der Ryn sought refuge from these unhappy times in nearby deserted marshes, beaches and vacant lots, according to Van der Ryn’s Web site. The war’s impact as well as this communion with nature profoundly influenced his career and he became concerned with social justice, equity and ecology, the site says. With a degree from the University of Michigan, Van der Ryn has applied the principles of physical and social ecology to architecture and environmental design.

While his work has earned numerous of awards—including the Goff Chair of Innovative Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, the President’s Award for Planning from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1971—it is Van der Ryn’s tireless work promoting sustainability and conservation that established his reputation.

He taught for more than 30 years as a professor of architecture at the University of California-Berkeley (starting in 1961) and was key in establishing the school’s reputation as a leader in socially responsible and environmentally-friendly design. In 1975, then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Van der Ryn California’s state architect. In this capacity, Van der Ryn he developed the first government-initiated energy efficient office building program. He also led adoption of energy standards for construction in the state.

Van der Ryn founded the Farallones Institute in 1969. The institute served as a teaching and research center for sustainable design integrating architecture, agriculture, waste recycling, water conservation, and renewable energy, according to its Web site. The Farallones Institute’s resource conserving systems, solar dwellings, and organic gardens have been used extensively as teaching tools. The institute later evolved into the Ecological Design Institute, which serves as Van der Ryn Architects’ non-profit partner. It works to create innovative design solutions that link nature, culture and technology to reintegrate the needs of human society within the balance of nature, according to the EDI Web site. It also provides training and research services in ecological design to businesses and organizations.

Edward Mazria
Nature also clearly inspired Edward Mazria, a Santa Fe, N.M.-based architect known for his work with passive solar energy. Mazria has patterned his sustainable design strategies after nature to achieve energy efficiencies. He earned a bachelors degree in architecture from Pratt Institute in 1963, then spent two years working as a Peace Corps architect in Peru. He joined the New York-based Edward Larabee Barnes firm before starting his career in teaching at the University of New Mexico in 1973. It was the research he conducted there and at the University of Oregon that established his reputation as a leader in resource conservation and innovative design. He has been awarded such notable architecture honors as the American Institute of Architects Design Award, the AIA Design Innovation Award, and the Pioneer Award from the American Solar Energy Society.

What shapes Mazria’s lifework is the possible effect of the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. In the November/December 2004 issue of Solar Today, Mazria said if the United States continues with its current policy of oil, natural gas and coal consumption, “we will be keeping our troops in the Middle East for a long, long time and pushing the world toward a full-blown climate catastrophe.”

His designs incorporate many energy-saving features. One of his most well-known buildings, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden Conservatory in Albuquerque, features Sonoran desert and Mediterranean pavilions suitable for plant growth with little to no outside energy input, according to the Mazria Inc. website. The conservatory produces only a tenth of the pollutants generated by a typical conservatory heated by natural gas and lit through electrical power, according to AIArchitect magazine.

Another famous design, that of the Mt. Airy Public Library in North Carolina, resulted in a building that uses one-sixth as much energy per square foot as a nearby municipal building, according to Mazria Inc.. In this building, Mazria showed the dramatic effects of “passive cooling.” Shade trees, a light-colored roof membrane, and white masonry greatly reduce the effect of the summer sun’s rays.

Tom Bender
Tom Bender helped found the “green architecture” and sustainability movements, particularly as a leader in solar architecture design. His importance goes beyond design, as he embraced economic and even spiritual solutions to the challenges of sustainability.

Bender’s influence began quietly in 1971 with the publication of “Living Lightly,” a study that showed how the United States could dramatically reduce energy consumption while simultaneously improving the quality of life, according to In Context, a quarterly devoted to humane sustainable culture.

As professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota, Bender launched “Project Ouroboros,” a groundbreaking experiment in “resource-self-reliant houses.” After moving to Oregon, he served as an energy researcher for Gov. Tom McCall during the oil crisis in the 1970s. During this time he served as co-editor of RAIN: A Journal of Appropriate Technology.

Bender’s technical work in areas such as solar design provided practical tools to improve sustainability. His work also involved looking at other parts of the equation, according to In Context. In a column he wrote for the Spring 2007 Green Money Journal. Bender said the core of sustainability is spiritual. Most intractable social problems, he wrote, were the result of a lack of self worth, lack of respect by and for others, and a lack of opportunity to be of value to family and society. “What is made with love becomes loved, and what is loved endures and is sustained,” he wrote. Bender has written several books that deal with nature as sacred and analyzes how this view affects our personal health, home design and the universe as a whole, including “Building with the Breath of Life”

Starting in the 1970s, Bender developed what he called “Factor 10” economics. This theory lists principles of design and planning that generate “order of magnitude” improvements in productivity and sustainability, according to Bender’s Web site. These principles drew the interest of many European nations and have been adopted as public policy in Austria and the Netherlands. They have also been endorsed by the European Union and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. His 2002 book, “Learning to Count what REALLY Counts,” explores these principles in depth.

Bender has earned such prestigious awards as the California Affordable Housing Award in 1981. This award honored Bender’s outline for reducing housing costs by as much as 90 percent though increased durability, energy conservation and financing efficiency, according to In Context. In 1993, Bender was honored again for his research into sustainable communities with one of the nine top awards in the Sustainable Community Solutions international competition run by the American Institute of Architects and International Union of Architects.

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Alternative Energy Pioneers

Inventions that harness nature to generate some form of energy have been created for thousands of years. This quest merely intensified during the late 1800s when enlightened scientists started worrying about the possibility of the coal pits being depleted. In recent years, the effects of global warming and the damage caused to the earth’s entire ecosystem have motivated scientists, engineers and other inventors to identify or develop sustainable alternative energy sources.

Solar Pioneers

solar
Solar energy is not the brainchild of modern man. In fact, the first written reference made to solar energy was by the Greeks in 400BC. Since then solar pioneers have proliferated. Among their ranks you will find the likes of Archimedes (c.a. 210BC), who concentrated the reflection of the sun’s rays on bronze shields to set fire to the Roman Empire’s wooden ships when they besieged Syracuse; Leonardo da Vinci (1500s), who, centuries ahead of his contemporaries in thought, invented a solar parabolic concentrator for industrial purposes (cloth dying); Antoine Lavoisier, who invented, built and proved the first solar platinum smelter during the 1700s, reaching temperatures of up to 1780 deg C (3236 deg F); French physicist Edmond Becquerel (c.a. 1839) who illustrated the photovoltaic (PV) effect, the workings of which were later fully explained by the inimitable Albert Einstein; Auguste Mouchout, who invented the first solar powered motor in 1860; John Ericsson who invented and demonstrated the parabolic trough in New York in 1883, the modernized version of which is still in use today; and Luz Co., who erected 10 solar power plants with a throughput of 355 Megawatts towards the end of the 20th century. So, let us take a look at the roles played by the more recent of these solar pioneers.

Auguste Mouchout

Most of the information available about this inventor concerns the period between 1860 and 1882. What is known is that Auguste Mouchout was a mathematics instructor at the Lyce de Tours in France and that he had a preoccupation with alternative energy sources. It is this passion that led to his invention of the first known solar-powered motor in 1860.

After patenting his design in 1861, Mouchout spent much of his time and resources refining his groundbreaking invention. In 1865, he managed to use his dish-shaped reflector to run a small steam engine. This success gave him sufficient confidence to demonstrate his invention in 1866 to Napoleon III, the Emperor of France. The success of the demonstration secured Mouchout the funding he needed for further research and development.

With funds at his disposal, Mouchout increased the capacity, streamlined the design and invented a tracking mechanism that enabled the dish shaped reflector to follow the sun. In 1872 he displayed his work to the French public for the first time. Mouchout’s next step was to power a water pump with this motor. This worked well and after he reported the results of his testing, the government instructed him to deploy his invention in Algeria.

He received additional funding – liberal funding that enabled him to further increase the capacity of his invention and to implement a double boiler system. This marked the beginning of nearly ten years of work closely observed by the French government and by academic peers, including commissioners from the French Academy of Science tasked with assessing the economic feasibility of the Mouchout solar device.

After the deployment, in 1878, Mouchout offered the Parisian public a further demonstration – this time at the Paris Exposition. He employed his solar motor to successfully power a refrigeration device and was rewarded with a medal for his efforts.
Three years and some 900 observations later, the French government reached the conclusion that while the Mouchout invention was technically sound, it was not economically viable. This was largely due to a shift in the economics of fuel at the time: The reduction in the price of coal meant that the pressure on the French money coffers was gone – and without this pressure, Mouchout’s invention was deemed unnecessary. The funding was withdrawn abruptly and Mouchout ended up returning to academic life.

However, Auguste Mouchout’s work was not in vain, as it formed the foundation for the parabolic trough invented by Capt. John Ericsson towards the later part of the 19th century.


John Ericsson

John Ericsson
Captain John Ericsson was born in the Verneland province of Sweden on July 31, 1803. Much of his illustrious career as inventor and engineer was spent improving the building naval vessels – particularly the design of better engines and propellers – but he also invested a lot of time refining the functioning of the steam locomotive. This focus continued after he moved to the USA in November 1839 and it was only really after 1869 that he started taking an active interest in alternative energy.

The very first invention Ericsson staked claim to (c.a. 1870) was perhaps too similar to that of Auguste Mouchout to be considered pioneering. Like Mouchout’s solar-powered engine, Ericsson’s design made use of a conical reflector via which sunrays were concentrated on a boiler. It wasn't until 1883 that his first real alternative energy invention was made: the parabolic trough. The parabolic trough resembles a cylinder cut in half, lengthwise. The beauty of the design is in its linearity. Unlike the dish-shaped concentrator, the parabolic trough could track the sun linearly – meaning that if it was standing on its side, it moved in a line from east to west and if it was in a horizontal position, up and down. Both the construction and the tracking systems required were much simpler and considerably cheaper.

Ericsson wanted to commercialize his designs. He spent some years refining it – particularly the aspect of reducing the gross weight and simplifying the assembly. His intent was to supply his solar-powered machines for irrigation purposes to farmers in arid parts of the U.S.
It is indeed a pity that Ericsson had a somewhat eccentric attachment to secrecy regarding his research, given that he died in 1889 with no record of the extent of his progress on what was reputed to be a much more advanced solar motor.

Even so, the invention of the parabolic trough is significant. In 1912, it enabled the construction of a 45kW power generation plant in Meadi, Egypt. Sadly, a combination of the advent of First World War and waning interest in alternative energy due to lower fossil fuel prices forced the plant to close down. The demise of the Meadi Plant did not mean the end of the parabolic trough. This invention, in its modernized form, survived and spawned the growth of alternative energy industry. Luz Co. immediately comes to mind, as an example of a company that took the initiative to see where this technology might lead.

Luz Co.

While Luz Co. is not an individual pioneer, the trailblazing influence of their solar power facility construction has made a huge impact on bringing alternative energy to the popular consciousness. By making use of parabolic troughs, Luz erected 10 solar electric generation facilities between 1985 and 1991, totaling an impressive 355 Megawatts of power. Put into perspective, this means that Luz Co. was producing around 95% of the world’s solar power. Luz engineers were finishing off the designs for a mega solar energy facility, which was targeted to generate in excess of 300 Megawatt at $0.069c, and which would have placed the cost of solar power in line with the pricing of ‘mainstream’ power, when the company filed for bankruptcy.

When all is said in done, the Luz story is not unlike the Mouchout story. The decline in fossil fuel prices took the pressure off government to find cheaper alternatives, and with this pressure gone, both tax credits and funding were withdrawn. Newton Becker, Luz Co. Chairman of the Board, stated in the end: "The failure of the world's largest solar electric company was not due to technological or business judgment failures but rather to failures of government regulatory bodies to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of solar thermal generating plants."

The Luz plants are still in operation under the management of a utilities consortium. Using their formula, several new plants have been born – ironically with U.S. Federal and State funding – one of which is Solar Two. However, it is not only the sun that generates heat. Heat is contained within the earth as well, and that is what gave rise to geothermal power.

Geothermal Energy

geothermal
Prince Piero Ginori Conti proved in the year 1904 that electrical energy can be generated by geothermal fluids. His illustration of this fact involved lighting five light bulbs using geothermal energy. A mere two years later, his work on geothermal energy (specifically natural endogenous steam) was employed commercially to power the motors for drilling equipment in a small Italian town called Larderello. Shortly the entire town of Larderello was lit up by geothermal energy. The capacity of their power plant continued to increase, and reached 11,000 Kilowatt shortly before World War II wreaked its devastation.

Ignoring the fact that Italy generates a massive 559 Megawatt in electricity from geothermic energy via its 30 power plants and 216 production plants, the real legacy of Prince Piero Ginori Conti’s pioneering invention is that it inspired others to look even further - beyond the hydrothermal aspect. Power generation by means of the other types of geothermal energy types, namely geo-pressured hot dry rock and magma, is actively researched and, in some instances, employed in the world today.

The Prince was fortunate in that he was able to commercialize his invention immediately. Those on the front lines of the Cold Fusion battle are certainly less fortunate.

Cold Fusion

The irreverent, irrepressible and incredible Dr. Eugene Mallove is a good example of a cold fusionist who spent much of his career out in the cold.

“A world of abundant, clean, and safe energy from sources that have no centralized geopolitical control.”

These words in Eugene Mallove's Open Letter to the World, sent out by him days before he was murdered, describe what motivated this unique, determined and visionary man. Mallove was the evangelist of cold fusion. For the fifteen years or more before his death, Mallove stalwartly faced mainstream scientific skeptics, critics and disbelievers, offering them his logic and research results in return for their heckling and unsubstantiated arguments. He doggedly pursued the quest for government funding in spite of rebuffs and stonewalling – a 15-year long effort that semi-paid off in 2004 when the Department of Energy agreed to reconsider its stance upon being presented with convincing evidence of atypical reactions of what they termed "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions" (LENR), and he continued his research with dedication to illustrate the viability of cold fusion as the most appropriate and sustainable form of alternative energy.

He first fell out of favor in the scientific community in 1989 when he resigned from MIT after suspecting that test data of a Pons-Fleischmann replication study had been manipulated to result in a negative outcome. This negative outcome culminated in cold fusion being publicly declared impossible. In his controversial first book (which incidentally got nominated for a Pulitzer prize), “Fire From Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor,” Mallove reported on a successful cold fusion test undertaken at the University of Utah two years earlier and how mainstream science suppressed the positive results achieved. “Fire and Ice” was directly responsible for the revival of interest in cold fusion as an alternative form of energy.

Over the years that followed, Mallove spent much of his time and effort in sharing information with energy researchers around the world, mostly via Infinite Energy, a magazine distributed in 40 countries to thousands of subscribers, and by traveling extensively to make direct contact with like-minded peers. So he continued tirelessly until his premature death in 2004.

Perhaps that portion of the scientific community that spurned and ridiculed the work of Dr. Eugene Mallove will one day turn around and acknowledge him for what he was: a true pioneer.

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