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2 Posts tagged with the climate_week tag

How green is your alley?

Posted by Rose Mar 12, 2012

Along the streets and alleyways of our future eco-cities there will be borders of wild flowers buzzing with bees and butterflies. Swifts and bats will fly freely again to and from the eaves of public buildings and tower blocks. Glimpses of solar panels, wind turbines and roof gardens, reflected in self-cleaning windows, will frame the high horizon. It will take under 7minutes to walk to your nearest public transport, recycling centre and local farmer's market. A tree-lined park, river or lake will be just as close.


Does it sound romantic and as far away as the Emerald City seemed to Dorothy when she first set foot in Oz? Such improvements to the sustainability, biodiversity and natural quality of urban life are already part of the greening plans for many cities around the world. And for good reason. It's the first time in history we face a situation where half of the world's population is located in urban spaces rather than rural areas. Planning the future of our cities will make or break a green economy.


Above: Green roofs are starting to pop up all over London. Enough of them could cut down flooding risks, help cool the city, and reduce health hazards in the anticipated hot summers that climate change may bring. And make more space for nature.


In places like Curitiba, capital of Brazil's Parana State, and Sweden, to name a couple, there have been big successes in cutting pollution, fuel consumption and waste through innovative city planning. There are also more ambitious schemes for completely new developments such as Masdar City near Abu Dhabi. Masdar is being hailed as the world's first zero carbon city and a showcase for sustainable living.


And what of Britain's most energy-efficient cities? Are they doing as well as they should? Here in London, there has been much talk of the Green Olympics with sustainability embedded firmly in Olympic planning from the outset. Pictured right is the area around east London's Olympic Park site which is being transformed in line with sustainability guidelines.


The costs and benefits of making our cities and urban housing greener and the promise of the greenest-ever Olympics will no doubt be among the hot topics on the agenda of this week's Earth Debate taking place here at the Museum. Olympics sustainability head, David Stubbs, joins the panel of key speakers to discuss Green cities in a green economy.


Green cities in a green economy - how to pioneer a sustainable transition? is on Wednesday 14 March from 19.00 to 20.00 GMT in the Attenborough  Studio. Like the last two it folllows a Question Time format with an invited studio audience and four panellists.



Watch the Green cities debate live on our website or join us on our online community to have your say before, during and after the event. On the night, you can contribute questions or comments using #earthdebates on Twitter.


This is our third Earth Debate, organised jointly with our Earth Debates partner, the Stakeholder Forum for a sustainable future, in the lead-up to the UN's Earth summit in June, Rio+20.


Find out more about the Earth Debates and watch the previous debates on video

Join in the UK's Climate Week activities


Do you often find yourself taking pictures of the sky and skylines? Then I guess you are someone who takes the weather with you everywhere you go.


Watching the clouds go by at the top of London's Primrose Hill on a sunny afternoon in October

Even if you don't and just inadvertently snapped a brilliant photograph of 'the weather', there's a new competition to enter.


Your photo must be taken in the UK to qualify for the OPAL Weather Photo Competition and you can upload as many as you want. The closing date is 3 May 2011. The winner will receive £100 of Amazon vouchers, a framed photo mosaic of your winning picture and a subscription to theWeather magazine.


One hour later, further down Primrose Hill, the clouds started to gather quickly

The competition is looking for pictures from all budding photogtaphers of interesting weather scenes, or photos that show how we enjoy or are affected by the weather.


Upload your photos to the Weather Photo Competition on the OPAL website


If I could enter the competition - which I can't because OPAL is affiliated to the Museum - I might think about submiting these pictures (above and below) that I took last October on Primrose Hill in North London.


Two hours later, at the bottom of Primrose Hill, the rain came and one rainbow, then two.

It was a gorgeous sunny, blue-skied autumn afternoon and we headed up Primrose hill to be wowed by the panoromic views of the city skyline framed with big white scudding clouds (pictured above). But staying true to our typical changeable British weather tradition, about two hours later, the sky darkened and the rain bucketed down. As we rushed to the bottom of the hill for cover, the rain stopped suddenly and a rainbow appeared, then another. I'd never seen a double rainbow before in the flesh and it was quite something. I just managed to catch the second one on camera before it vanished.


The competition launches in Climate Week which the Museum took part in all this week along with lots of other organisations across the country. There are events over the weekend, so see what's on. It's part of the OPAL Climate Survey which is currently running with the Met Office to investigate the ways in which we affect the climate.


Read the news story about the Weather Photo Competition


Find out more about climate change on our website


OPAL is a partnership initiative celebrating biodiversity, environmental quality and people’s engagement with nature.