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Monday, December 2

  1. page (13) Noveber 22 - Nancy Grimm - Urbanization and global change edited ... Michelle Predi: Throughout this semester, paper's such as the Pitaki paper have often made m…
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    Michelle Predi:
    Throughout this semester, paper's such as the Pitaki paper have often made me question the usefulness of the research that is put out in the field of Urban Ecology, because, as is exemplified by the bioswales example, science or cost-benefits analysis is often not the main consideration for policy makers. But Nancy Grimm brought up the point that she often tries to frame her research is a way so that it can be most useful to policy makers. She said that she asks herself "What are the policy relevant questions?" and "Can I frame my research in such a way to optimize it's usefulness?". In this way, her aim is "use inspired research".
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    decision making.
    Scott Beck:
    First, it was very exciting to have Nancy Grimm present to us. I've read dozens of her papers as primers for my masters thesis, so this felt like a culmination of all that work. It was also a very nice ending to the course -- integrating many of the themes that we have explored throughout the semester. I appreciate her discussion of scale -- moving from local to regional to global -- which recognizes how local and regional changes can influence global processes that effect people at local and regional levels (not as complex as it sounds). Something that I understand but don't always consider is how consumption and environmental mitigation in developed countries can negatively effect marginalized populations -- and although countries like the US generate a majority of global emissions, its developing countries that bare the brunt of the environmental and climate damages. These are incredibly important issues to solve, and I wouldn't even know where to start, but it seems like we might need to revisit our economic systems and take a closer look at unrepentant, free-market capitalism and the inequality it breeds. On that note, I'm defending my thesis soon and someone sent me this cartoon from whatshouldwecallgradschool.tumbler.com. I thought it was an accurate depiction of the urban ecological knowledge I've gained during this course... and how I'll try to use it during my defense.

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    11:54 am
  2. page (13) Noveber 22 - Nancy Grimm - Urbanization and global change edited ... The cleanliness of the river also fluctuates with the weather. So while 99.5% of the combined …
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    The cleanliness of the river also fluctuates with the weather. So while 99.5% of the combined system overflow has been reduced, it can still be considered unhealthy to fish or swim in the Charles. The river is often worse after it rains as more pollutants get pulled into the water from urban sources.
    NCSU Pre-Lecture:
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    The sampled front and back yards within
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    to rural. The vegetation census revealed that introduced species far out-compete natives (70%), with ornamental's being the most numerous. Ornamental's dominate front yards, while other species are favored in back yards. Both front and back yards support a huge number of species overall. She asked the question, "what is the best use of these data?". Maybe to see if policies and regulations that try to limit introduction are working? She mentioned one policy that mandates the planting of palms, which are non-native, which essentially amounts to a mandated species introduction.
    After the presentations, we moved on to paper discussions. There was general agreement that the Pataki paper was a solid critical though piece that analyzed the effectiveness of our mitigation/adaptation/ecosystem valuation strategies. If we only look at the benefits and don't identify the costs, then we are doing ourselves a disservice. The discussion then shifted to the dangers of pointing out holes in research without identifying potential solutions. Policy makers are not interested in holes, they want solutions and will largely ignore important science if they are given even the slightest reason that it might not work -- without regard to whether or not the reasoning is valid. We then discussed ecosystem services. They are supposed to 'save' us and bring money to conservation, but there is no guarantee that will ever happen (it has not been successful thus far). The only practical example that could be identified is the NYC watershed reservoir, where a huge land acquisition program was implemented to preserve an upstate watershed rather than to build a very costly treatment plant network. Ecosystem services also don't work in the worlds most rapidly urbanizing regions in the global south. Land is valued by residents and community members much differently than it is by the ecosystem services sciences. How do we explain or convince a rural villager in Africa that not developing his/her land has ecosystem services value that outweighs upfront money offered by developers when the people living in these villages don't have access to water (and sometimes food)?

    Nancy Grimm Lecture
    Dr. Grimm began by describing the "urban century" in which 60-70% of the population may live in cities by 2050, and the collision between global change and urbanization drives the need for new theories, understanding, and action. Human activity leads to earth system changes, and at the same time, human population and migration increases. People move to cities for better lives. While cities may offer better opportunities for employment, people may still live in poverty and unsafe conditions. Others are simply enticed by governmental incentives. While reasons for moving to urban areas vary, the consequences for people in urban area prove consistent.
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    11:33 am
  3. page (13) Noveber 22 - Nancy Grimm - Urbanization and global change edited ... The cleanliness of the river also fluctuates with the weather. So while 99.5% of the combined …
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    The cleanliness of the river also fluctuates with the weather. So while 99.5% of the combined system overflow has been reduced, it can still be considered unhealthy to fish or swim in the Charles. The river is often worse after it rains as more pollutants get pulled into the water from urban sources.
    NCSU Pre-Lecture:
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    business practices. She ended with the question: "what do you think cities and earth will look like in 100 years, and will we overcome the challenges to sustainability?". It is a very broad question and illicited many different answers -- but we are all hopeful that things will get better. Next, Christina Vila Ruiz presented some of here work on the San Juan, Puerto Rico ULTRA project. She discussed plant species richness and abundance in residential yards throughout the Rio Piedras watershed. The sampled yards within 6 different testing sites across a development gradient ranging from highly urbanized to rural.
    Nancy Grimm Lecture
    Dr. Grimm began by describing the "urban century" in which 60-70% of the population may live in cities by 2050, and the collision between global change and urbanization drives the need for new theories, understanding, and action. Human activity leads to earth system changes, and at the same time, human population and migration increases. People move to cities for better lives. While cities may offer better opportunities for employment, people may still live in poverty and unsafe conditions. Others are simply enticed by governmental incentives. While reasons for moving to urban areas vary, the consequences for people in urban area prove consistent.
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    10:59 am
  4. page (13) Noveber 22 - Nancy Grimm - Urbanization and global change edited ... The motivation for such measures is often financial; Boston began fixing CSO's when the Massac…
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    The motivation for such measures is often financial; Boston began fixing CSO's when the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) was sued. “As of May 2011, CSO discharges have been eliminated from 32 of the 84 outfalls and virtually eliminated from 5 (MRWA)”. Given the challenges of replacing old infrastructure in old cities, we discussed the need to [[#|apply]] lessons learned from urbanization in the United States to other quickly urbanizing countries that have the potential to develop sustainable and environmentally responsible infrastructure before it is too late. We also discussed about the cleanup projects for the river and their extravagant expenses and what would be the alter way to bring back the life to the river.
    The cleanliness of the river also fluctuates with the weather. So while 99.5% of the combined system overflow has been reduced, it can still be considered unhealthy to fish or swim in the Charles. The river is often worse after it rains as more pollutants get pulled into the water from urban sources.
    NCSU Pre-Lecture:
    Our class kicked off with two student presentations. First, Janet Felts discussed the Brundtland Commission report, which presented sustainable development as something humanity has the capacity achieve though the concentration on altering our concentrated centers of production, consumption and waste (the things that ultimately drive land change and overuse of resources). Typically, corporate drive for profit outweighs the needs of the people, which is in critical need of re-balancing to achieve sustainability goals. We can only achieve sustainability if we can balance technology and ecology with consumption (ban corporate marketing?). International Paper was cited as an example of a corporation that embraced sustainability -- seeing it as a moral imperative to protect people and the planets resources by drastically altering business practices.

    Nancy Grimm Lecture
    Dr. Grimm began by describing the "urban century" in which 60-70% of the population may live in cities by 2050, and the collision between global change and urbanization drives the need for new theories, understanding, and action. Human activity leads to earth system changes, and at the same time, human population and migration increases. People move to cities for better lives. While cities may offer better opportunities for employment, people may still live in poverty and unsafe conditions. Others are simply enticed by governmental incentives. While reasons for moving to urban areas vary, the consequences for people in urban area prove consistent.
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    10:50 am

Sunday, December 1

  1. page (12) November 15 - Alan Yeakley - Management and ecology of urban riparian areas edited ... Michelle Predi: https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Charles%20River%20Esplanade%20S…
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    Michelle Predi:
    https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Charles%20River%20Esplanade%20Study%20Report,%20as%20amended_tcm3-12653.pdf
    I meant to post this much earlier, but aboveAbove in an
    Toby Fusco:
    As we walked along the Esplande talking about the ecology of the area and the Charles River, Lucy asked Alan Yeakley an interesting question which I found very relevant to me and my experience through this course on urban ecology. The question was something along the lines of how did a natural scientist (Dr. Yeakley is a hydrologist) become involved or interested in this interdisciplinary field of urban ecology. He discussed his path and how he made the transition. We also discussed how social scientists approach this field from a different view point. Lastly, we discussed who has an easier time learning and acclimating to the new disciplines: social or natural scientists.
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    3:17 pm
  2. page (12) November 15 - Alan Yeakley - Management and ecology of urban riparian areas edited ... https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Charles%20River%20Esplanade%20Study%20Report,%20…
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    https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Charles%20River%20Esplanade%20Study%20Report,%20as%20amended_tcm3-12653.pdf
    I meant to post this much earlier, but above in an article I found a few days after our walk around the Esplanade. I know that when we went out on our walk, many of us pointed out how some of the design features of both the Esplanade and the Charles seemed counter intuitive. However, I think that it is extremely important to remember that many of these aspects should be viewed as inherited landscapes, ie. the Charles design is due mainly to the former dams that once powered mills and other industries along the river. The above document offers a comprehensive history for anyone who is interested!
    Toby Fusco:
    As we walked along the Esplande talking about the ecology of the area and the Charles River, Lucy asked Alan Yeakley an interesting question which I found very relevant to me and my experience through this course on urban ecology. The question was something along the lines of how did a natural scientist (Dr. Yeakley is a hydrologist) become involved or interested in this interdisciplinary field of urban ecology. He discussed his path and how he made the transition. We also discussed how social scientists approach this field from a different view point. Lastly, we discussed who has an easier time learning and acclimating to the new disciplines: social or natural scientists.
    Personally, I have found it difficult as a natural scientist to get accustomed to the social side of the issues we have discussed throughout this course. Being a meteorologist, I have no real training in incorporating social aspects into that branch of science. Climatologists and studying climate patterns and changes in climate (which is my potential direction at BU) have much more to consider when it comes to social issues and the science. It just made me think that maybe I need to work on this overlap between natural and social science a bit harder. Interdisciplinary studies seem to be the new wave of the future and perhaps putting all your time and effort into one field or exclusive discipline is not the best thing to do. It's better to have berth and depth is what I got from that discussion which I think will benefit me in the future.

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    3:04 pm
  3. page (12) November 15 - Alan Yeakley - Management and ecology of urban riparian areas edited ... Katy Lawless I really enjoyed Alan Yeakley’s presentation this week. It was great seeing the …
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    Katy Lawless
    I really enjoyed Alan Yeakley’s presentation this week. It was great seeing the results of his study. It is inspiring to see that governance and land-use planning can slow ecosystem loss. I also enjoyed the field trip we took at the end of class. We talked a lot about the importance of the Esplanade. That area is obviously an important habitat for many organisms. We discussed how the soil is so densely packed it is impervious, and therefore not much different from pavement. Someone had brought up the idea of hypothetically building over the river. Although the Esplanade may not provide as many ecosystem services as similar ecosystem outside of the city, it is aesthetically pleasing to residents. I believe that people value that area because it represents what little bits of nature of found in the city. Even though people may not understand or be aware of the ecological services of this area and value it for this reason, they still value it.
    Michelle Predi:
    https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Charles%20River%20Esplanade%20Study%20Report,%20as%20amended_tcm3-12653.pdf
    I meant to post this much earlier, but above in an article I found a few days after our walk around the Esplanade. I know that when we went out on our walk, many of us pointed out how some of the design features of both the Esplanade and the Charles seemed counter intuitive. However, I think that it is extremely important to remember that many of these aspects should be viewed as inherited landscapes, ie. the Charles design is due mainly to the former dams that once powered mills and other industries along the river. The above document offers a comprehensive history for anyone who is interested!

    (view changes)
    9:55 am

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