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):