Links I Liked

 Photo: Victortsu

Photo: Victortsu

1.  Architects defend the world's most hated buildings.  As compelling a defense of Paris' Tour Montparnasse as I've seen (though it's still an eye sore):

“It’s legendary for being the most hated building in Paris. I want to defend it not because it’s a particularly beautiful tower, but because of the idea it represents. Parisians panicked when they saw it, and when they abandoned the tower they also abandoned the idea of a high-density sustainable city. Because they exiled all future high rises to some far neighborhood like La Défense, they were segregating growth. Parisians reacted aesthetically, as they are wont to do, but they failed to consider the consequences of what it means to be a vital, living city versus a museum city. People sentimentalize their notions of the city, but with the carbon footprint, the waste of resources, our shrinking capacity, we have no choice but to build good high-rise buildings that are affordable. It’s not by coincidence that people are going to London now not just for work but for the available space. No young company can afford Paris. Maybe Tour Montparnasse is not a work of genius, but it signified a notion of what the city of the future will have to be.”

2.  The UN released its proposed Sustainable Development Goals last week.  The list is long, with 17 goals broken down into 169 targets.  Duncan Green has a good round-up of the pros and cons of setting a global agenda with so many objectives.  

3.  Genetically modified organism (GMO) technology is moving beyond plants and into animal applications.  A genetically modified mosquito that promises to eradicate dengue fever is receiving pushback in the Florida Keys, where the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is waiting for approval from the FDA despite heated opposition from locals that aren't enthusiastic about being lab rats.  My first thought was: what effect will mosquito population control have on the balance of species in the surrounding ecosystems?  Apparently that concern is unfounded.

4.  While John Oliver's campaign against contract farming in the chicken industry is making headway, the avian influenza virus continues to cause staggering death totals for the chickens themselves.  The focus so far has been on the economic losses caused by the virus, but it's worthwhile to question whether the ubiquitous "concentrated animal feeding operation" model is sustainable long-term, and what role it plays in these outbreaks.  The USDA is keeping a running tally of the birds "affected" (i.e., slaughtered):

Links I Liked

  1. First, Listen to Wikipedia.  (h/t Blattman)
  2. While anti-poaching debates weigh the pros and cons of legalization and regulation of the endangered species trade, one organization is injecting rhino horns with drugs that poison humans (but not rhinos).  More here (h/t marginal revolution).  Could the same be done to elephant tusks?  Surprisingly little is known about forest elephants.  
  3. Your life on earth - how you and the world have changed since you were born.  (h/t Taylor M)

4. Last but not least, John Oliver slams Big Chicken companies for their heinous contract-farming-style treatment of chicken farmers. Said one farmer: "We need rules, and we need them now."  The House Appropriations Committee is meeting next month and may consider allowing the USDA to enforce already-written rules protecting farmers.

Links I Liked

  1. How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened in a foreign country (h/t Duncan Green)
    • "The United Kingdom expressed concern over the troubling turn of events in America in the last several months. The country’s foreign ministry released a statement: “We call on the American regime to rein in the state security agents who have been brutalizing members of America’s ethnic minority groups. The equal application of the rule of law, as well as the respect for human rights of all citizens, black or white, is essential for a healthy democracy.” Britain has always maintained a keen interest in America, a former colony."
  2. A human right to LSD in Norway?  (h/t Marginal Revolution)
  3. 6 tips on disaster relief giving.  (h/t Chris Blattman)
  4. Guide to building your personal brand.  Ouch.
  5. Whole Foods to open discount chain next year.  

 

 

Links I Liked

  1. "Escape or Die." Shipping and piracy are great examples of what can happen when international and domestic legal systems break down.  A remarkable story.
  2. 4 pollution problems the EPA has mostly fixed.
  3. China Adds Equivalent of France's Entire Solar Capacity in Three Months.  Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of the Environment is cracking down on hydropower projects, blocking one on the grounds that it threatens a nature preserve.
  4. Theories of Change: Passing Fad or Paradigm Shift?
  5. Marine Le Pen goes to New York.  "It should be pointed out that Le Pen didn’t make TIME’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people because of the way she dresses."