NYC plans to expand Manhattan to protect against rising seas

The sea levels across New York are estimated to rise between 18 and 50 inches by 2100.

NYC Mayor's Office
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday his $10-billion plan to protect lower Manhattan against sea level rise and storm surges.
  • The plan calls for creating new land that would extend the lower part of the island by about two city blocks.
  • As sea levels rise around the globe, cities are experimenting with various methods to protect themselves.
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Technology & Innovation

Bird-friendly buildings on the rise

Humans blame cats for killing birds, but our buildings are far worse.

The Jacob Javits Center in New York City, 2003. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
  • Nearly a billion birds are killed every year after flying into windows.
  • The American Bird Conservancy published an extensive guide to incorporating bird-friendly design into buildings.
  • Over twenty cities have programs to help reduce the number of avian deaths.
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Technology & Innovation

9 ways self-driving vehicles could change tourism

Future vacationing could be pretty different.

(Getty Creative)
  • A study examines how autonomous vehicles could change the tourism experience
  • Removing a human driver adds some new possibilities, like personalized sightseeing tours
  • Sex on wheels, anyone?
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Technology & Innovation

Inside China's plan to put an 'artificial moon' in orbit

By 2022, there may be as many as three artificial moons floating above the city of Chengdu.

Photo by Schubert Ciencia via Flickr/Big Think
  • Chinese state media announced plans to put an artificial moon in orbit by 2020.
  • Just like the real moon, the artificial moon will reflect sunlight onto the Earth in order to cut down on electricity consumption.
  • If the mission is a success, there are plans to launch three other artificial moons in 2022.
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Technology & Innovation

How financial innovation is giving cities jobs, wealth and health

Want to live in an energy efficient masterpiece? This startup has turned a costly overhaul into an opportunity for investors.

Ever since President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in 1979, innovators and green-minded politicians have been trying to unlock the enormous benefits of energy efficiency across America. But those benefits have remained illusive for two reasons, says BlocPower founder Donnel Baird: financial constraints and engineering complexities. Aged infrastructure like power plants cost us a lot, financially and environmentally. Our best shot at efficiency is by "greening" existing buildings so they can create power locally, rather than burning fossil fuels at a plant and transmitting electricity over long distances, wasting much of it along the way. The problem is that greening isn't cheap: it needs building analysis, and lots of capital to make the initial changes, which not all building owners have. Baird's startup BlocPower has developed technology to lower the cost of building analysis by a huge 95 percent, and matches investors with building owners—it turns out greening buildings is a very profitable investment. Here, Baird explains the details of how updating infrastructure can bring health and wealth to a city: "We know that energy efficiency is going to reduce energy costs for building owners. It’s going to create local jobs. It’s going to reduce our dependence and reliance on foreign oil. And it’s just going to be awesome all around for the environment."

Technology & Innovation