The Global Fool

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Plastic Debris and Great Garbage Patches: Ca’ Foscari University Raises Awareness of Ocean Pollution
Jul16

Plastic Debris and Great Garbage Patches: Ca’ Foscari University Raises Awareness of Ocean Pollution

By Roberta Attanasio When we think of the Great Garbage Patches — of which 5 exist — we usually think of ocean pollution. Now, when thinking of garbage patches and ways to raise awareness of them, we may think of Venice and Ca’ Foscari University. Venice, the Italian city that seems to float on water, bears no resemblance to the vast concentrations of floating marine debris that makes up the garbage patches.  However, you can find an artistic representation of the garbage patches right in the heart of the city and, more precisely, right in the courtyard of the world’s oldest existing building granted LEED certification. Let’s go one step at a time. What is LEED certification? LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. The world’s oldest existing building to obtain LEED certification is the more than 500-years old Palazzo Foscari, the location of Ca’ Foscari University administrative headquarters. The courtyard of the green and sustainable Palazzo Foscari is an appropriate home for the Garbage Patch State art installation, which has been set up by artist Maria Cristina Finucci in collaboration, of course, with Ca’ Foscari University. The goal of the installation is to draw attention to the global problem of ocean pollution. Ca’ Foscari’s focus on sustainability-based initiatives is the result of the environmentally-forward mastermind of Carlo Carraro.  Carraro is President of Ca’ Foscari University, Professor of Econometrics and Director of the International Center for Climate Governance. Why a Garbage Patch State installation? The world’s oceans are heavily polluted by marine debris, mostly consisting of small bits of floating plastics. These bits are called microplastics and derive from the degradation of larger plastic debris. Indeed, most commonly used plastics do not fully degrade in the ocean — rather, they break down in smaller and smaller pieces. Marine debris becomes trapped by the circular ocean currents of the five gyres, where it builds up to form giant garbage patches. The Ca’ Foscari installation is called “The Garbage Patch State Venice” in honor of the Garbage Patch State — a State that includes the five garbage patches corresponding to the five gyres. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granted the “Garbage Patch State” symbolic statehood in April thanks to the effort and commitment of Maria Cristina Finucci. The microplastics that make up the majority of garbage patches are almost invisible to the naked eye. Similarly, the giant patches of garbage are not captured by satellite imagery or aerial photographs. In addition, not all the trash floats on the surface. Denser debris is located under the surface. According to...

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Global High Tech Hubs, Applied Sciences and Net-Zero Energy Buildings
Jun17

Global High Tech Hubs, Applied Sciences and Net-Zero Energy Buildings

By The Editors At this time, it only offers a beta class (a one-year Masters of Engineering degree in Computer Science from Cornell University), with a handful of students housed in space donated by Google – in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.  In the next few years, it will be a major global research and academic program that will confer graduate degrees and engage in research in the Applied Sciences – on Roosevelt Island, a 52-hectare sliver of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. We’re talking about Cornell NYC Tech and the launch of an innovative curriculum that leaves behind the traditional highly academic approach to learning and moves towards coursework based on an interdisciplinary mix of business and technology with an additional strong component, i.e., real-world experience. According to the Cornell NYC Tech website “Students at Cornell Tech learn and work together with faculty, practitioners, and mentors, at our campus in Google’s Chelsea building, immersed in a culture that encourages entrepreneurial effort and a physical design that encourages collaboration and sharing.” Entrepreneurs are an integral component of the classroom experience and participate by discussing the risks and failures associated with building a start-up. A partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a world leader in technology commercialization, adds to the global, entrepreneurial, interdisciplinary graduate curriculum. The plan is to offer Cornell/Technion dual master’s degrees, The campus will be centered on interdisciplinary application domains or “hubs”, rather than traditional colleges, schools and departments. The first three hubs will be called Connective Media, Healthier Life and Built Environment Construction on Roosevelt Island will begin in 2014. In 2017, Cornell Tech will move to its permanent address on Roosevelt Island.  Its first academic building will be a net-zero energy building – a building with zero-net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Net-zero energy will be achieved mostly through a rooftop solar canopy. In the words of Daniel Huttenlocker, Dean of Cornell Tech, “Just as Cornell Tech will be pioneering new approaches to graduate research and education, our campus won’t look like any other university campus that exists today.  We are determined to innovate in every aspect of the development, from the way that students, faculty, researchers, industry and the community are intermingled, to the sustainability of our buildings and their iconic...

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