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    Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change

    Peter Newman, Tim Beatley, and Heather Boyer

    Half of the inhabitants in the world live in cities. In the following twenty years, the number of urban dwellers will swell to an estimated five billion people. Using buildings that are poorly designed and their ineffective transportation systems, many cities particularly in the United States use up enormous amounts of fossil fuels and emit high levels of greenhouse gases. But our planet is quickly running from the carbon-based fuels that have powered urban growth for centuries and we seem to be not able to check our greenhouse gas emissions. Are the world's cities headed for unavoidable failure?

    The authors of the energetic book do not consider that oblivion is essentially the destiny of urban areas. Rather, they believe that direction is visionary and sensible planning that can help cities meet with the impending disasters, and look to existing initiatives in cities around the world. Rather than responding with fear (as a legion of doomsaying prognosticators have done), they choose expectation. They confront the issues, describing where we stand now in our usage of oil as well as our contribution to climate change. They then present four potential results for cities: collapse, ruralized, divided, and resilient. In response to their scenarios, they say a new sustainable urbanism could replace today's carbon-consuming urbanism. They address in detail how buildings and new transportation systems can be feasibly developed to replace our low efficiency systems that are present.

    That is not a publication filled with blue sky theory (although blue skies are going to be a welcome result of its recommendations). Rather, it's packed with practical ideas, a few of which are working in cities today. It implies these problems are solvable, although it frankly confesses that our cities have issues that may worsen when they are not addressed. And the time to begin solving them is now.

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    New Orleans: From City of Fear to City of Hope?

    New Orleans in August 2005 became the first city in the current era to fall because of climate-change associated occasion. Hurricane Katrina struck the city was devastated as well as that despite being just on the border of the primary cyclonic avenue the city's defenses against storm surge were broken. The floodwaters removed whole suburbs as a wall of water swept through the town.

    The city was warned only weeks before various folks had proposed and when another cyclone had threatened the city wasn't prepared. He suggested using school buses and Amtrak to evacuate those who couldn't drive or look for a lift. John Renne described his anxiety as he rent the one among the last remaining hire-cars and drove out just ahead of the thunderstorm hit: I feared the worst as I recognized that the sole plan was for people to get to the Superdome, then watched TV as the school buses were swept away with everything else.

    The electricity failed and also as the flooding increased, those staying took to upstairs balconies and their rooftops. Over 1800 were swept away where looters started to roam along with the mayhem of the Superdome was not considerably safer in relation to the roads. Desperation and anxiety took over the city.

    Hope in a city not readily replaces panic. With damage it was the most costly disaster in US history. For tens of thousands of New Orleans people it wasn't a city they may return to perhaps as many as 200,000 people left their homes having lost everything including their will to fight There were instantaneous answers that New Orleans should be completely abandoned. Its natural impediments had been severely damaged over the years and from the storm although the city had not been unique in living at and below sea level. Nonetheless cities will not be only groups of buildings set in an ecological system, as essential as this definitely is, but cities are, in addition, a mixture of human narratives bound up in ecology and the buildings. This urban culture in New Orleans is, amongst all American cities, strong, colorful, quirky, indeed unique. In human terms New Orleans was always going to be reconstructed. The only question was how to get going. The human qualities required for resilience in the city were clearly there.

    Building hope starts together with the fundamental infrastructure of food supplies and power, gasoline, water, sewerage, hospitals, schools. These were restarted under emergency powers. It took 43 days to pump the water from many suburbs out although individuals started returning nearly instantly to areas little affected. The reality of rebuilding so little cash can be acquired to help and when so many people haven't returned, can lead to deep despondency. However the city is recovering. As the Retrieval Director, Professor Ed Blakely, said "New Orleans is demanding. It'll recuperate".

    These narratives of hope collected under which will develop a more resistant city in the foreseeable future and are only a few gleaned from among many that have brought back the city in the point.

    1. Holy Cross and Global Green

    The Holy Cross neighborhood is in the Lower Ninth ward which was clearly one of the most devastated areas with flooding up to 15 feet deep. Fats Domino lives in this area and the 8- year old singing legend was clearly one of the final survivors to be plucked from his roof after a week without water and food. His house has been restored and he remains living there refusing to proceed.

    The President of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, Charles Allen, has lived in your community since he was a boy and now works for the Center for Sustainable Engagement (CSE) set up by Tulane and Xavier Universities as a contribution to rebuilding Holy Cross. Their office is. Among the very first activities of the community that is returning was to help reconstruct the church which meant so much to the residents. This provided a community center from where the CSE were able to run charettes on the reconstructing priorities and strategies. Community based actions have included plans to restore a nearby bayou devastated by the hurricane and also to ask the Global Green organization to participate in a green rebuilding project.

    Global Green has designed a model for the way to rebuild an area with all the finest qualities of green urbanism. Most of all it's a symbol of hope for those of Holy Cross.

    2. Green Door - Green Tradition.

    Literally rising in the ashes is a heritage compliant building that could be a model for how cities can be reconstructed with all its heritage qualities whilst assembling to get a greener future. The secret for Green Door was aerated concrete which is 95% air and 5% gypsum, sand, cement and lime. It really is extremely good thermally and has enabled the three level house to be constructed cheaply and quickly using a number of other sustainability attributes for example water collection and PVs. When finished it's going to look like the previous wooden construction but will be more efficient and secure.

    3. Habitat for Humanity Musicians Hamlet.

    The hurricane forced many musicians to flee New Orleans and many have never returned. This will definitely consist of 72 single-family, Habitat-constructed homes for displaced New Orleans musicians as well as other qualifying Habitat partner families and an additional 70 lots in the surrounding Upper 9th Ward neighborhood. Affordable houses and green are being constructed with tens of thousands of volunteers from across the nation and also the entire world. Music is the essence of New Orleans and we adamantly WOn't surrender it to water and the wind said Harry Connick Jr.

    By raising funds from a benefit concert in Denver formed by the Dave Matthews Band, too as Connick and Marsalis other musicians have helped. We were shocked by the destruction, and we knew we wanted to help, after the hurricane struck, said Dave Matthews. We organized a concert with the John Butler Trio and also the Neville Brothers just after the storm. That concert in Denver raised $1.5 million and is an important source of financing for the Hamlet. Each step in rebuilding based on community commitment and such energy raises the expectation of an improved future with this troubled city.

    Is New Orleans an Resistant City?

    New Orleans is a worldwide sign of resilience as it reconstructs. The very first signals of hope are there but it wants much more before the real resilience required for a 21st century city could be demonstrated. The two big questions remaining of relevance to resilience are how to rebuild the wetlands which are so vital to enabling the city's natural thunderstorm resistance capability to be reinstated, and the way to construct an excellent transportation system system which could provide everyone with great accessibility and help to focus development to ensure its suburbs can get a level of self sufficiency without desiring autos. This latter issue is barely even on the agenda in New Orleans; until it's the city will remain vulnerable to the high-speed fuel costs we expect to roll within the city like the waves did.

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    "Resilience in our personal lives in about lasting, about making it through crises, about inner strength and strong physical constitution. Resilience is destroyed by fear, which causes us to panic, reduces our inner resolve, and eventually debilitates our bodies. Resilience is built on hope, which gives us confidence and strength. Hope is not blind to the possibility of everything getting worse, but it is a choice we make when faced with challenges. Hope brings health to our souls and bodies. 

    Resilience can be applied to cities. They too need to last, to respond to crises and adapt in a way that may cause them to change and grow differently; cities require an inner strength, a resolve, as well as a strong physical infrastructure and built environment." 
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