Foreground reads: our picks from around the web in August
Here’s our eclectic recommended reading list for August: warnings that poor land-use planning would create floods in Kerala ignored, NYC slams on the Uber brakes, suburbs can innovate too, smart mobility can be easier than you think, and move aside Prozac – trees make you happier.
Top Indian environment experts predicted the devastating Kerala floods, but their warnings went unheeded by politicians eager to fast-track money-making projects, such as coal mines, hotel resorts and new housing. Lakes and wetlands that soak up floods have disappeared, and new concrete buildings concentrate excess water in certain areas and make it harder to drain away. Source. Channel News Asia
In a much-anticipated vote, the New York City Council moved to impose a slate of new regulations on ride-hailing services. The move comes hot on the heels of a 2017 survey that found that 57 percent of ride-share drivers bring in less than $50,000 annually, and 22 percent less than $30,000. Source: Citylab
Public policy overwhelmingly focuses on premium inner-city innovation precincts. However, planning for innovation precincts outside typical inner-city locations is both important and possible. This paper identifies the ingredients that make innovation precincts successful and recommends that policy-makers consider different policy mixes, to support innovation in both the alleys of the cities and the valleys of the regions. Source: SGS Economics and Planning
Vienna is working hard to relieve congestion, improve public transport and improve the city’s public space, right across the city. Meet Maria Vassilakou, the councilor who is responsible for urban planning, traffic and transport. She believes that sometimes a reduced annual public transport pass or a simple app, can be more important than a major new piece of infrastructure. Source: Cities Today
Does it make a difference to your mental health living next to a rubbish-strewn vacant lot compared to a local park or stand of trees? Researchers in Philadelphia have discovered that it does. D’oh! Their research treated green space like a drug or vaccine, and designed a randomized controlled trial – the gold standard for evaluating health treatments – to gauge its efficacy. This first citywide trial of urban greening as a mental health intervention revealed that people living near newly introduced grass and trees reported feeling less depressed. Source: Anthropocene Magazine
Around the world last year over 200 land and environmental activists have been targeted and murdered for defending forests, rivers, wildlife and homes against destructive industries. Global Witness, in partnership with The Guardian plan to document and publish such killings, in a bid to shine a light on this ‘epidemic of violence’ that is impacting those trying to defend their land. Source: Landscape News