Adapting to a Hotter World

The heroes in the next chapter of human survival will come from all walks of life and all branches of disciplines. Don’t give up hope just yet, things can still change for the better. When you give up, you’ve already lost. I’ve tracking climate change for over 25 years. While it is a large and complex problem, don’t let the thought of it overwhelm you. Like any large, complex problem we need to break it down into smaller steps. My advice for anything you try to conquer in life, is to take what overwhelms you and break it down into parts you can handle. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Photo by Scott Webb on

I want to make a bold new suggestion. What if we stop trying to fix our current societies “as is” and break the current schema? These small, fragmented patch jobs spread out across sectors and hindered by greed and red tape could quite possibly doom us all. What if we could build a new interwoven framework to create just, regenerative societies? I really love the idea of a “regenerative society.” To heal ourselves, our communities, and the landscapes in which we reside. How though?

Next time you have the opportunity to let your mind wander, I want you to think about what a regenerative society would look like in your eyes.

Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below, write your own blog post and let me know about it, or email me. Maybe you will come up with ideas that pertain to the work that you and bring fresh ideas to your business, family, and communities. I hope you get promoted for being such a forward-looking thinker. We need you for the future of humanity. If you’re retired, the good news is, you’re not dead yet and there is still so much that you can do within your community! Depression can strike any age, gender and spiritual belief. I’ve always found that being part of something greater than myself gives me peace, passion and  happiness, even as an introvert. Do what feels comfortable to you.

We’re seeing the effects of drought, heatwaves, flooding, and typhoon damage nearly daily. Trying to manage these events as they happen is nearly impossible. The best strategy is to plan for them in advance, which can be difficult when people are stuck in an “out of sight, out of mind” way of reacting to things. As a disaster preparedness geek, I’m always planning one season ahead. In the summer I prepare for Fall, in the Fall I prepare for the Winter and in the Winter I prepare for Spring. Staying one step ahead helps me save money by buying supplies “out of season” and often with more selection. This also gives me the chance to do some research to make sure that what I think I need and what I actually need are the same thing. Sometimes through my research I discover I don’t need to buy anything at all, just reorganize something I already have. I can often create what I need or find someone in my community to help or trade with.

Photo by Maria Orlova on

How can society benefit from planning ahead?

A lot of the research has already been done. Some it has been lost and needs to be rediscovered and/or embraced by a larger segment of the population. Serious mistakes have been made in the past, both on a human rights level and an environmental level. Here in the U.S. there is an urgency to help Indigenous Americans reclaim their lands and rights that were stolen during decades of genocide. The restoration of these lands and rights could help all of us benefit from nearly forgotten practices of land management that are only now being given serious consideration and rigorous academic studies that they deserve.

Photo by Pixabay on

Looking beyond national borders also gives us ideas about what works in other areas of the world. The current trend in environmental articles last week have been two-fold. Several articles talk about how trees are important to relieving the “heat island effect” in cities. Once again we see disparities of who gets trees in their neighborhoods, which often tend to be pre-dominantly White, upper class neighborhoods. The trees themselves did not ask to be objectified as status symbols for wealth. Its class systems and social hierarchies who has decided who gets to benefit from nature. I’ll state the obvious, this practice needs to be abolished. Trees and plants for all!

The second common thread of environmental articles these last few weeks had to do with white paint. Famous pictures from Greece, especially from the Cyclades islands depict white building with blue domes. While this white paint is derived from mined gypsum, scientists are exploring other ways to benefit from the properties of the white paint for broader use without having to mine it. One study is focusing on the properties of a beetle, Lepidiota stigma. I believe if we can understand how this works at a molecular level, we can come up with eco-friendly paint formulas in various colors.

Photo by Raquel Costa on

This week I’m researching “Tiny Forests” for next weeks post. Stay tuned. Have a safe and comfortable rest of your week!

Tree Equity Score highlights lack of cover in low-income areas (

How cities can avoid ‘green gentrification’ and make urban forests accessible (

In Cleveland, Better Housing Is Climate Justice : NPR

This whiter than white paint cools buildings (

Lighter pavement really does cool cities when it’s done right (

Why shade trees are hard to find in redlined neighborhoods (

Nature-led Architecture: Biophilic Design

If this your first time hearing the term “Biophilic design” then I’m excited to be the one to share it with you! This is one of my core passion and sincerest beliefs; architecture should not only be inspired by nature but designed to benefit it. We as humans are a part of nature, not something outside of it. If we were, wouldn’t that make us the aliens? Why do we allow ourselves to be forced into drab little boxes? This is one thread in my series of “Thought Projects” to explore the possibility of what could be and I would argue, what should be!

My introduction to Biophilic Design came eight years ago when I watched the documentary: Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life. You can get a good idea about what Biophilic Design is by watching the trailer. There is also a book by the same name. In it Stephen Kellert offers a personal vision of what our cities could look like. I enjoyed those parts of the book. Since then I’ve looked to Stephen Kellert, Edward O. Wilson and Judith Heerwagen as role models. Sadly, Stephen Kellert passed away of cancer on Nov. 27th , 2016. I will always be grateful for his passion on this subject.

Now when I look at a building I look at it with new eyes. I think about what’s been done right and what could be improved to make it more welcoming to people and nature. It should be noted that biophilic design doesn’t always follow sustainability practices. I would like to see a more cohesive model that encompasses both. While this term “Biophilic Design” may be relatively new, the pursuit of working with nature is not. In fact, I believe it is one of our most innate traits when not suppressed by greed. The lowest bidder wins the contract, the developer that can squeeze the most amount of people per square footage at an affordable rate gets to make blocks upon block of housing units. I’ve looked upon street after street of uniform single-family homes and apartments complexes and wanted to weep. In my darkest thoughts it feels there’s nothing left to build except Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon in the center of it all. We’re left constantly overwhelmed, falling blithely into the role of prisoner in the name of capitalism, safety, and convenience.

Is the design inherently wrong? No, but architecture is like the clothes we choose to wear. It makes a statement about who we are as a people and what we value. There are a lot of sustainable buildings being built by Scandinavian architects and while I want to like them; I find the clean lines, muted colors and sparse, low furniture too cold. I prefer the warm colors and arches of Latin American architecture and the clever, functional designs of East Asia architecture.

Elements of Design include: Natural materials, natural shapes, colors, lighting and space.

  • A source of water and a source of fire or a representation of these elements through color or texture
  • Air or airflow; ventilation, temperature control or represented by light “airy” textures and elements (subjective)
  • Earth is represented by wood, concrete, rock or rammed earth
  • Metal commonly in doorknobs, hinges and railing. Uncommon ways to use metal include textured metal pictures.
  • Glass, wonderful glass, sand heated in the fire until its molten, worked with air and cooled with water. Gives us the windows we need to see the environment around us and beyond.
  • Mirrors or other reflective surfaces are great for bringing light into interior rooms by enhancing lighting sources already present.

Feng shui and Ayurvedic or Vastu Shastra practices are types of biophilic design, but biophilic design is not a religious or spiritual belief in itself.

Biophilic Design at home:

Author’s Living Room

The skylights have a light fabric covering (hand sewn by me) to diffuse the daylight, add softness to the wood ceiling and hide whatever grime or water spots are on the glass. I can peek to the edges to see if its raining or not. The downside is that skylights are noisy during heavy rains and you do lose some insulation value as a trade off for all the natural light. One alternative would be Clerestory windows, which are high sheltered windows that allow the light without being directly impacted by the weather. This would be an a better solution especially in areas that receive a lot of snow.

When we moved into this house the wood on the sides of the fireplace were a very dark wood stain. It made the whole wall heavy in an otherwise light-filled room. By painting the horizontal boards a light green the room became more balanced and brightened the color of the wood and brickwork with warmer tones that you couldn’t see before.

Inside plants, only cacti and succulents can survive me because I often forget to water.

More to Explore:

Chihuly Garden and Glass:

Little Boxes Written and Performed by Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978) American Folk/Blues Singer-Songwriter and Political Activist. (Not related to this Author.) Song rediscovered by younger generations when it was used for the intro of the American hit show Weeds by Jenji Kohan. Link: malvina reynolds – little boxes – YouTube

A panopticon is a building design where a guard/observer has a 360 view of prisoners in an institutional setting. It always make me think of the Tower of Mordor in Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Link: