Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rethinking Resource Infrastructure

by: Natasha Harper, Katie Adee, James Baldauf

When a tribe comes to a clearing and discovers a pile of timber, two possibilities exist for providing warmth. The power operated solution is to create a campfire, enjoy the warmth of the fire and then move on. The structural solution is to create a rain-shed or wind break from the timber. [1] While the campfire solution is much more nimble and responsive, it requires the existence of additional timber when the fire is out. Today, we find ourselves in a world where the pile of timber is rapidly decreasing and in danger of running out. This calls for a new kind of solution, one that considers using resources that are renewable, and not in danger of running out and re-thinking the way we use the resources that are available. The time has come to re-evaluate our relationship with our resources. We are proposing a more hybridized system between the structural and power-operated solutions, a more sustainable solution. It becomes necessary to radically transform what it means to capture and distribute energy. Investing now in these critical issues will decrease the burden currently being placed on the planet, and will save money in the long-term. Traditional practices will become more expensive as regulations on carbon emissions continue to increase in the face of a global crisis.
Many of the problems caused by global warming originate in the melting of the arctic. Permafrost (perennially frozen soil) in the arctic has been melting at increasing speeds in recent years. Because of the sensitivity of the active layer of permafrost, a one to three flux in average ground temperature foreshadow larger trends in the global climate. As permafrost melts, the methane trapped underneath the surface is released into the atmosphere. Methane, as a greenhouse gas is thirty times more effective. However, if that methane is captured, it can be burned for use as a renewable fuel source. In order to extract the gas hydrates from the permafrost, carbon must be pumped in, the process of which, releases the methane. This process not only sequesters carbon,

it collects a renewable fuel source, and slows global warming by not allowing additional greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. A
nomadic system that is minimally invasive is the best way to deploy a methane capturing, carbon sequestering system in the Arctic. The border of the permafrost is changing as it melts, making the most critical permafrost the discontinuous, the isolated, and the sporadic as it is melting the fastest. The ecosystems that are the most navigable and occupiable are crucial when looking at the most ideal locations for deployment of the system. [1] Reyner Banham, “The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment” pg.19

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