Environment Forum

from PopTech:

Making it right in New Orleans

PopTech speaker Tom Darden is the executive director of the Make It Right Foundation, the organization started by Brad Pitt to rebuild affordable, green homes in New Orleans' lower ninth ward. Make It Right has already built 50 homes and are in the midst of construction for another 30. Their initial goal is to build a total of 150.

So far, Darden has helped raise $36 million for the foundation. In 2009, Darden was named Louisiana's Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Small Business Administration. After being in New Orleans for four years now and having worked with the foundation since 2007, Darden explains why his work is so essential and how these types of homes can transform a family's quality of life:

More from Tom Darden:

Make It Right partnered with award-winning architects who worked pro bono to design homes based around the needs of lower ninth ward residents. Design features such as covered porches and wide front stairs allow residents to maintain social connections to their neighborhood, preserving the "culture of engagement" that characterized the neighborhood prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Other design features such as large windows maximize daylight, and high ceilings facilitate passive heating, cooling, and ventilation. While the aesthetic is contemporary, many of the designs are inspired traditional New Orleans design, and reflect the unique spirit of the community.

from The Great Debate UK:

“Dutch dialogue” aids New Orleans restoration


-Han Meyer is Professor of Urban Design at Delft University of Technology.  He has been a principal organiser of the ‘Dutch Dialogues’ with New Orleans since 2005 and is Editor of ‘New Orleans-Netherlands:  Common Challenges in Urbanised Deltas’. The opinions expressed are his own.-

In August 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated large swathes of the U.S. Gulf Coast and overwhelmed New Orleans causing what then-U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff described as “probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes" in U.S. history.

Katrina’s punishing storm surge, strong winds and massive rainfall weakened flood protection infrastructure which then failed, flooding coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, including 80 percent of New Orleans:

Will the financial storm blow climate action off course?

This National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image, taken August 28, 2005 and released August 28, 2006, shows Hurricane Katrina as the storm’s outer bands lashed the Gulf Coast the day before landfall. Katrina hit on August 29, 2005 and killed more than 1,500 people in four states, flooding 80 percent of New Orleans, where entire neighborhoods are still nearly empty. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/NOAA/HandoutIt took Hurricane Katrina’s battering of New Orleans in 2005 to alert many people to the risks of climate change.  Will the storm in financial markets make them forget all about global warming again?

The financial crisis that may cost the United States $700 billion to fix is likely to shift actions to fight climate change towards cheaper, sure-fire winners such as energy efficiency — such as better insulation for buildings – rather than more exotic long-term projects such as trapping and burying carbon dioxide from power plants. Read the story  here.

The U.N. Climate Panel insists that the world has to act now to avert ever more droughts, floods, heatwaves, more powerful cyclones and rising sea levels. Fixing the problem now will be a lot cheaper than suffering the consequences. A man walks past an electronic board displaying share price movements in Tokyo September 30, 2008. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell nearly 5 percent on Tuesday to touch a three-year after U.S. lawmakers rejected a $700 billion financial bailout plan, fuelling fears about lasting damage to markets and the economy. Exporters and banks were particularly hard hit, as Tokyo followed the lead of the Dow Jones industrial average, which posted its largest point decline ever and its biggest daily percentage slide since the 1987 stock market crash. REUTERS/Issei Kato (JAPAN)