Below are updates to two recent posts to memo.
Updates to A City Underwater (also in the commentary below the post):
Climatologist James Hansen, who is the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the creator of one of the first climate models that predicted global warming, is convinced that the problem of climate change caused by humans is much more dire than is generally thought (subscribers only link; abstract).
Hansen has now concluded, partly on the basis of his latest modeling efforts and partly on the basis of observations made by other scientists, that the threat of global warming is far greater than even he had suspected. Carbon dioxide isn’t just approaching dangerous levels; it is already there. Unless immediate action is taken-including the shutdown of all the world’s coal plants within the next two decades-the planet will be committed to climate change on a scale society won’t be able to cope with. “This particular problem has become an emergency,” Hansen said.
Hansen is so adamant about this belief that he has begun participating in protests around the globe, an unusual level of activism for such a respected and high-ranking government official. The last sentence of the piece reads:
He said he was thinking of attending another demonstration soon, in West Virginia coal country.
Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of the piece above, reports that Hansen not only attended that demonstration but got arrested.
In The Beauty of a Park by Alexandra Lange, she asks the question if the High Line “is only a path, or will points along the way gather a sense of place?” Personally I believe it is only a path. The places, I fear will be defined more by access points and the buildings than by the ‘park.’ But, one could argue that the whole path is the “place,” in much the same way that the “journey is more important than the destination.” Regardless, the article provides another interesting look at the project.
Tommy Manuel also describes his viewpoint:
the High Line’s potential never was what it could be converted into, rather its potential was what it hinted at in its abandoned condition. Nature could have been allowed to quietly and chaotically work through its cycles on the bones of man’s work. Saving that would have been a entirely different design challenge.
My counterpoint, which he briefly addresses, is that while the idea of openness, green space and a return to nature probably was at its best when it was abandoned infrastructure, I don’t believe that it was a potentially better asset to the city if left untouched.
Untouched, access was only available to the well connected. (A belief similar to Lange’s questions of “its starry patrons” and how “it could come to be seen as the backyard of The Standard, et. al.”) At least now, the city can create a truly collective memory of a historic part of the city and something that once was slated for demolition.