Exploration Architecture

Michael Pawlyn's pioneering designs mimic nature's closed-loop systems to help us thrive in extreme resource scarcity. Most "green building"...

Michael Pawlyn's pioneering designs mimic nature's closed-loop systems to help us thrive in extreme resource scarcity.

Most "green building" solutions are actually obvious: extremely good insulation, smart ways to use natural ventilation, and, perhaps, ways to reduce water use or recycle water. If you want to get fancy with it, throw in a solar panel or two; add on a couple of smart energy meters.But what's next? What's the future of green, after we address those basics outlined above?The architect Michael Pawlyn has created some of the world's most intriguing answers.Pawlyn spent 10 years at Grimshaw, one of the country's largest architecture firms, helping lead its sustainability efforts. In 2007, he founded his own firm, Exploration Architecture, dedicated to one single idea: to create buildings that mimic biological processes. Rather than being lone structures that suck resources from the grid, they're embedded in closed loops of resource management.Perhaps the best example: Pawlyn, working alongside inventor Charlie Paton and engineer Bill Watts, recognized that by joining two cutting-edge technologies they could create a facility that would bring water and arable land to the Sahara Desert. The so-called Sahara Forest Project, which Pawlyn has been developing for the last few years, would be powered by a concentrated solar power plant. There, a field of mirrors concentrates the sun's rays into high-intensity light that's then used to generate steam, which in turn powers an electricity-generating turbine.That's where things get exciting.Some of that electricity generated would be used to power a Seawater Greenhouse, which Paton invented. The electricity would be used to pump cold seawater inland, to the greenhouse. There, fresh air passes over tubes housing that seawater; the interaction condenses fresh water from the air, which can then be used to grow biofuels and rehabilitate the surrounding desert.It's not ridiculous, not at all. The Seawater Greenhouse already exists, and it generates five times more fresh water than required by the plants inside. Meanwhile, concentrated solar plants are going up across the world, and they're twice as efficient as photovoltaics. But the ingenuity lies in realizing that by lashing these technologies together, we create something close to a "free lunch": clean electricity and clean water, through a self-sustaining processes. That basic idea should sound familiar; closed-loop interdependence is the bedrock of the natural world."I first came across closed-loop systems as a teenager studying biology in school," writes Pawlyn over e-mail. "It seemed so elegant, but far removed from the workings of manmade systems. Twenty years later, I started to realize that mimicking the remarkable efficiencies of ecosystems was possible." He insists that the economics make sense. He points out that mainstream economists have consistently been wrong about the environment-for a long time, they dismissed the idea that ecosystems had economic value, although they clearly do. (Just witness the wreckage left by Katrina, which would have been been lessened if the Mississippi River's wetlands hadn't been decimated.) If the true carbon cost of buildings were factored into their budgeting, green buildings would become common sense.The change that really needs to be wrought, argues Pawlyn, is in the timescale over which we make decisions about our building: "Many are now realizing that, by taking a longer term view, it is possible to create buildings, communities, and businesses that are better for people, profit, and the planet."Watch video of Pawlyn explaining the Sahara project:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBC_gAy69BY[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccnzGK-PWEQTop image courtesy Exploration Architecture.

The Justice Department sent immigration judges a white nationalist blog post

The blog post was from an "anti-immigration hate website."

Attorney General William Barr via Wikimedia Commons

Department of Justice employees were stunned this week when the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a morning briefing that contained a link to a "news" item on VDare, a white nationalist website.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, VDare is an "anti-immigration hate website" that "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites." The website was established in 1999 by its editor Peter Brimelow.

The morning briefing is distributed to all EOIR employees on a daily basis, including all 440 immigration judges across the U.S.

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via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

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It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

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He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

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