In this week's Newsletter: Jane Jacobs gets the last word for her 100th birthday, what types of power plants can be built cheapest by county, USDA Research Service lifts gag order and much more!
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Jane Jacobs' Final Predictions, 100 Years After Her Birth

Jane Jacobs (photographed in 1969 by Elliott Erwitt), the largely self-taught urban scholar, would have turned 100 last year (she was born May 4, 1916). Jacobs is most famous for her books The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Economy of Cities and Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and for her fight to stop Robert Moses from destroying lower Manhattan with his expressway during the Struggle for Greenwich Village. During the 1960s-1980s, she reinvented what successful urban renewal could mean, and predicted that cities would not fall into permanent decay, as many people suggested by the late 20th century, but would experience a renaissance based on economic possibility and the quality of life inherent in walkable, diverse neighborhoods. But in her last book, Dark Age Ahead, published in 2004, she also predicted that ideology, the downsides of globalization and decaying social institutions would be our undoing.

In Dark Age, Jacobs focused on the erosion of the key pillars of stable, democratic societies—the decline of the family, the rise of consumerism and hyper-materialism, the transformation of education into credentialism, the undermining of scientific norms, and the take-over of politics by powerful special interest groups, among others. Persistent racism, worsening crime and violence, the growing gap between the rich and poor, and increasing divides between the winners and losers of globalization provided growing evidence of the decay of society, she argued.

“Her voice was prophetic,” says Mary Rowe, the vice president of New York’s Municipal Art Society, who was quite close to Jacobs during her lifetime. “The last book, Dark Age Ahead, is the most sobering—and now even more so as it all continues to be borne out.”

You can read more at CityLab.com here.

What New Power Costs Across the US

All power plants are not created equal! In fact, this new interactive map from UT-Austin's Energy Institute shows exactly which types of power plants are the most economical to build, county by county across the US. In what is certainly bad news for coal miners who had high hopes that their jobs would be restored under a new administration, there's  not a single county in the US where new coal plants are cost-effective...especially when externalities are taken into account (those externalities include the costs of extra pollution from non-CO2 gases).

You can see what happens when the price per ton of CO2 changes: The amount of wind, solar and nuclear development goes up, and natural gas development goes down. But even with the carbon price set at $0, no new coal plants pop up. The race is now between renewables, especially solar and wind, and natural gas. May the bets technology win!

You can read the whole article at Vox.com here.

Department of Agriculture Lifts Research Gag Order

Among the worrisome actions that the Trump administration initiated this week, one of the most troubling was the issuing of gag orders on scientists, researchers and employees of several Federal agencies, including the EPA, Commerce, Health & Human Services and Interior, forbidding them from sharing research findings, talking to the media and using social media accounts. While most administrations ask that various agencies not make public comments as policy changes are being discussed, the blanket gag order seems more  like an attempt to shut out the press and public and limit the transparency of the federal government.

In the midst of this, it is heartening that the USDA, which also circulated a gag memo to staff, another memo was circulated from a top staffer at the department's Agricultural Research Service rescinded the original order.

Prior to the memo, the agency disavowed the gag order, calling it “flawed” and indicating that new guidance would be sent to its employees.

“This internal email was released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued,” the USDA said in a statement.

“ARS will be providing updated direction to its staff. ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.”

You can read more about this at TheHill.com here.

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Upcoming Events at Solar One

1/27
THIS FRIDAY! Final Fridays Film Series: Dirt! the Movie
Solar 1, 24-20 FDR Drive Service Road East south of 23rd St at the East River, 6:30pm, $10 donation includes popcorn and 1 drink
Space is limited but seats are still available. RSVP to dina@solar1.org.

Other Events


1/28
E-Waste Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center: Ridgewood
Rosemary's Playground, Fairview Avenue bet Woodbine & Madison Sts, Queens, 10am-4pm, free

1/29
E-Waste Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center: Flushing
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street bet Dahlia & Peck Aves,  Queens, 10am-4pm, free

1/30
Plant-O-Rama
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 150 Eastern Parkway bet Flatbush & Mary Pinkett Aves, Brooklyn, 8am-4pm, $20+

1/31
East Side Coastal Resiliency Project Update
Grand Street Settlement Grand Cafe Room, 80 Pitt Street bet Stanton & Rivington Sts, Manhattan,  6:30-8pm, free

2/1
Fashion Insiders: An Evening of Sustainability with Dr. LeeAnn Teal
LIM College Maxwell Hall Student Center, 216 East 45th Street bet 2nd & 3rd Aves, Manhattan, 5-7pm, free

Greater East Midtown Rezoning Public Hearing
Community Board Six Land Use & Waterfront Committee, NYU School of Dentistry, Nursing & Engineering, 433 First Avenue, Room 220, bet E. 25th & E. 26th Sts, Manhattan, 6:30pm, free

2/2
M.S. in Sustainability Management & Sustainability Certifications Online Information Session
Earth Institute. Columbia University, online via Adobe Connect, 6-7pm, free
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