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Google Launches Sidewalk Labs; Aims to Help Fix Cities

               

Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page speaks during the keynote presentation at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco.(Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

Google (GOOG) is starting a new, independent urban innovation company called Sidewalk Labs that aims to improve cities, according to a post on Google+ by CEO Larry Page. The Street

usatoday.com - by Jessica Guynn - June 11, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Google, famous for its ambitious projects to build self-driving cars and high-altitude balloons that beam the Internet to earth, is now taking aim at fixing another major problem: city life.

The new initiative, called Sidewalk Labs, will use technology and innovation in an effort to improve urban life at a time when the U.S. population is gravitating to cities, according to Google CEO Larry Page.

Based in New York, it will be run by Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City who will combine his experience in managing cities with funding from Google.

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Flood and Drought Risk to Cities on Rise Even with No Climate Change

sciencedaily.com - March 5, 2015

Source:  Texas A&M University

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Changing global patterns of urban exposure to flood and drought hazards

Summary:  A heads-up to New York, Baltimore, Houston and Miami: a new study suggests that these metropolitan areas and others will increase their exposure to floods even in the absence of climate change.  Their work is published in Global Environmental Change. . . .

. . . "Through land change, bank protection, channelization, and other means, urbanization can also alter the geomorphology of river channels and floodplains, which in turn may contribute to increased risk of flooding."

"Our findings suggest that future urban expansion in flood and drought prone zones will at least be as important as population growth and economic development in increasing their exposure," the researchers add.

"With climatic changes, this exposure is only expected to increase in the future. Thus, proper planning and financing in fast growing cities today will be critical in mitigating future losses due to floods and droughts."

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California Gov. Jerry Brown Orders Aggressive Greenhouse Gas Cuts By 2030

Governer Jerry Brown.

Image: Governer Jerry Brown.

huffingtonpost.com - April 29th 2015 - Kate Sheppard

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday directing the state to cut is greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, the toughest proposed cuts of any state in the nation.

The 2030 target will ensure that California can meet its emissions target for the middle of this century, which calls for an 80 percent cut by 2050, Brown said. The state is already on pace to meet its goal of bringing heat-trapping emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020, a target set under a 2006 state law.

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Three in every four extremely hot days linked to climate change

Three out of four hot days could be due to climate change (Image: Guy Corbishley/Getty)Image: Three out of four hot days could be due to climate change (Image: Guy Corbishley/Getty)

newscientist.com - April 28th 2015 - Aviva Rutkin

If climate change was a game, we'd have racked up quite a score. A fresh study suggests that humans are responsible for a hefty number of today's extreme hot days and rainstorms.

Weather extremes, such as a Russian heatwave in 2010 and a drought in Texas in 2011, have been blamed on climate change before – but the attribution of individual events to it is still hotly debated.

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What Did the U.S. Learn from Ebola? How to Prepare for Bioterrorist Attacks

FOREIGN POLICY  by Siobhán O'Grady                        April 13, 2015
When the Ebola virus spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone and Liberia last spring, the initial international response was labeled a failure. By the time President Barack Obama ordered troops to the affected countries in September, more than 2,400 people were dead.

But in the United States, where major hospitals prepared for an outbreak, there were only four in-country diagnoses, one of which resulted in a death. And some see the urgency of that response as a lesson in how the government can prepare for another public health hazard: a bioterrorist attack.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally chairs a House subcommittee that will examine over the next few months the threat of bioterrorist attacks and U.S. preparedness to respond to them. She told Foreign Policy that even if a disease outbreak and the use of a biological agent in a coordinated attack are not completely analogous, the response strains similar systems.

“We can learn lessons from other outbreaks that are naturally occurring,” she said. “We can identify weaknesses in our response and even if it wasn’t terrorism, it presses the system at the same level....”

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The White House Wants to Explore How Climate Change Makes You Sick

whitehouse.gov 
washingtonpost.com - by Juliet Eilperin - April 7, 2015

President Obama launched an initiative Tuesday aimed at highlighting the connections between climate change and public health, bringing both medical and data experts to the White House this week.

As part of the effort, the White House will hold a Climate Change and Health Summit later this spring, featuring Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The administration is expanding its Climate Data Initiative, which it launched a year ago, to include more than 150 health-relevant data sets.

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Reducing Climate Change Would 'Create One Million Jobs'

Workers walk among newly installed solar panels at a solar power plant in Zhouquan township of Tongxiang, Zhejiang province December 18, 2014. A new report highlights the co-benefits of renewable energy sector. REUTERS/Stringer

Image:  Workers walk among newly installed solar panels at a solar power plant in Zhouquan township of Tongxiang, Zhejiang province December 18, 2014. A new report highlights the co-benefits of renewable energy sector. REUTERS/Stringer

newsweek.com - March 31st 2015 - Luke Hurst

As the March 31 deadline for countries to submit their proposals for tackling irreversible climate change passes, a new report claims lives could be spared, the climate could be saved from catastrophic and irreversible change, and one million jobs could be created if green policies are initiated.

The report from the New Climate Institute (NCI) - a green pressure group - says more ambitious action to reverse climate change would yield even greater economic and social co-benefits in the form of job creation and a healthier climate.

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CDC - MMWR - Ebola Virus Disease in a Humanitarian Aid Worker — New York City, October 2014

cdc.gov - April 3, 2015

In late October 2014, Ebola virus disease (Ebola) was diagnosed in a humanitarian aid worker who recently returned from West Africa to New York City (NYC). . . .

. . . In NYC, the public health response to one Ebola case was resource intensive for a local health department, with participation of more than 500 DOHMH staff members and expenditures of more than $4,300,000 in DOHMH funds. These figures include not only the direct costs of the local public health response (e.g., contact tracing, environmental issues, and health care worker monitoring) but also the indirect costs of increasing citywide preparedness after identifying the one case (e.g., enhancing hospital preparedness, active monitoring of returning travelers, and community outreach).

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Interaction of Atlantic and Pacific Oscillations Caused 'False Pause' in Warming

Ocean and sky (stock image) / Iakov Kalinin / Fotolia

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Atlantic and Pacific multidecadal oscillations and Northern Hemisphere temperatures

sciencedaily.com - February 26, 2015

The recent slowdown in climate warming is due, at least in part, to natural oscillations in the climate, according to a team of climate scientists, who add that these oscillations represent variability internal to the climate system. They do not signal any slowdown in human-caused global warming.

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Ebola Doctor: Media, politicians fueled the public's fears

ASSOCIATED PRESS   by Tom McElroy                                                             Feb. 25, 2015

NEW YORK — A doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus and rode the subway system and dined out before he developed symptoms said the media and politicians could have done a better job by educating people on the science of it instead of focusing on their fears.

 "When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we'll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond — and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did," Dr. Craig Spencer wrote in an article published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. (See link below.)

Spencer, an emergency room physician, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 23, days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. His was the first Ebola case in the nation's largest city, spurring an effort to contain anxieties along with the virus. He was treated at a hospital, recovered and was released on Nov. 11.

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