The Balbina hydroelectric dam in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is, according to more than one expert, the worst hydro plant in the world. With too little water to run its five giant turbines, it operates at a fifth of its 250-megawatt (MW) capacity. The environmental and human costs required to build it were enormous and horrendous: In the 1980s, engineers flooded 900 square miles of rainforest, obliterating land occupied by indigenous tribes. And because of decomposing plant matter in the lake, Balbina may emit enough methane–an especially dangerous greenhouse gas–that its climate profile is no better than a coal plant, some scientists say. “Balbina is among the projects that are known in Brazil as pharaonic works,” writes ecologist Philip Fearnside. “Like the pyramids of ancient Egypt, these massive public works demand the effort of an entire society to complete but bring virtually no economic returns.” The French company behind the … [Read more...] about This Dam Has Been A Disaster–Can Turning It Into a Solar Plant Save It?
If you haven’t already booked your 2015 vacation or you’re looking to add a few underrated yet intriguing places to your bucket list, AFAR, the experiential travel guide, has curated the perfect line-up of locales around the globe.AsiaEat Your Way Across Osaka – Osaka is known as the food kitchen of Japan and has the second largest number of restaurants in the country.Explore Indonesia – Go now to explore the wild nature near Flores Island, connect with locals at a socially conscious resort, surf Indo’s best waves, experience culture on new cruises, and, when it opens in summer 2015, to get pampered at the new Ritz-Carlton Reserve.Change the Way You Think About North Korea – Why is the famously secretive North Korea on our 2015 travel list? Because curiosity is a powerful motivator. The despotic regime has restricted travel dramatically to and within the country (and the U.S. State Department strongly discourages us to even think about … [Read more...] about Out of the Box Vacations: Top Underrated Destination to Travel in 2015
As a boy in late-1940s Memphis, my dad got a nickel every Friday evening to come by the home of a Russian Jewish immigrant named Harry Levenson and turn on his lights, since the Torah forbids lighting a fire in your home on the Sabbath. My father would wonder, however, if he were somehow sinning. The fourth commandment says that on the Sabbath “you shall not do any work–you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.” Was my dad Levenson’s slave? If so, how come he could turn on Levenson’s lights? Were they both going to hell? “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.” The commandment smacks of obsolete puritanism–the shuttered liquor store, the check sitting in a darkened post office. We usually encounter the Sabbath as an inconvenience, or at best a nice idea increasingly at odds with reality. But observing this weekly day of rest can actually be a radical act. Indeed, … [Read more...] about Let’s bring back the Sabbath as a radical act against the always-on economy
Civilization is back. But it is no longer the preserve of “Renaissance man” or of “the West,” or even of literate societies. Civilization is a way of talking about human history on the largest scale. From the cave paintings of Lascaux to the latest MoMA exhibition, it binds human history together. But in at least one essential aspect, the concept of civilization remains fundamentally exclusionary. It is still the stuff of galleries, museums and UNESCO World Heritage sites; of prized images, objects and structures, rather than of living humanity. The prehistoric stone structures of Göbekli Tepe–where a heritage park has now opened, near the border between Turkey and Syria–are being mooted as everything from the Garden of Eden to the cradle of civilization and the world’s first temple. We still want a civilization raised up high above the everyday realities of its human makers and keepers. In troubled regions, such as the Syrian-Turkish … [Read more...] about A real history of civilization isn’t just a study of monuments
NOV. 25, 2018 Beijing is leveraging its commercial and military might to redraw the terms of trade, diplomacy and security, challenging the liberal democratic order. China Rules They didn’t like the West’s playbook. So they wrote their own. Part 3 阅读简体中文版 閱讀繁體中文版 Beijing is leveraging its commercial and military might to redraw the terms of trade, diplomacy and security, challenging the liberal democratic order. By PETER S. GOODMAN and JANE PERLEZ Photographs by BRYAN DENTON NOV. 25, 2018 Under a merciless sun, a dozen Chinese construction workers survey an empty expanse of desert, preparing to transform it into the heart of a new Egyptian capital. The workers are employed by China’s largest construction conglomerate through a $3 billion contract from an Egyptian company, with financing from Chinese banks. They are erecting a thicket of 21 … [Read more...] about Money and Muscle Pave China’s Way to Global Power