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Niti Bhan

San Francisco, United States

Strategist

Member since June 13, 2007


  • Focus on carbon emissions misses the point

    Environment, Environmental Design

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    In an excellent opinion piece on the BBC site today, an EU policy advisor discussed the downside of the current focus on minimizing carbon emissions alone without taking the bigger picture of our unsustainable consuming lifestyles into consideration.

    From the article:

    Ultimately, our problem is consumption, and the environment is not the only casualty. The modern Western lifestyle also has an inbuilt dependency on the cheap resources and the low carbon footprint of developing countries, which has compounded global injustice. Worse still, maintaining our relatively wealthy, comfortable and unsustainable lifestyles is now dependant on maintaining this imbalance.

    Seventy-five percent of the world's population - more than 4.5bn people - live on just 15% of the world's resources, while we in the West gorge on the remaining 85%. The world simply does not have the resources, renewable or otherwise, to sustain Western lifestyles across the globe.

  • The model of economic development that we are currently pursuing is unsustainable. Our energy consumption per unit of GDP is seven times that of Japan, six times that of America, and even 2.8 times that of India. China‚Äôs labour productivity is less than 10 per cent of the world total, and yet our emissions are over 10 times higher than the global average.

    by Pan Yue deputy director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). Part of a new generation of outspoken Chinese senior officials, Pan has given rise to a tide of environmental debate, attracting enormous attention and controversy.

    Part One and Part Two of his article online.

  • Mobile news from Africa

    Communication

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    Advances in wireless communications are now permitting Africans to share news in the form of text or video over their mobile phones. Voices from Africa shares these stories from their 'mobile reporters'.

    The Economist covers the topic as well, mobile phones are making far reaching changes in disaster relief, aid distribution and shifting the balance of power between donors and recipients.

  • Recycling bins on Orchard Road, Singapore

    Environment, Communication Design

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    I passed these on Orchard Road in Singapore and couldn't resist capturing the graphics. What a change from the boring old plain blue or green bins we usually see. Notice how the shape of the hole changes for the one marked paper.

    Now if only this blog allowed me to upload all the closeup photos as well.

  • The Independent reports a recent furor over the humble patio heater in the UK leading to a debate on the ethics of consumption and how the choices we make have long lasting consequences.

    Calling for a ban on patio heaters, stating that they emit high amounts of CO2 and that their popularity has risen after the recent ban on smoking indoors the article discusses the government's response - a request to the British public to "Wear a Jumper" instead and implies that shame might be a better approach, making it as socially unacceptable as smoking.

    Once it becomes a shame to buy something that potentially harms the environment, are we going down the slippery slope of being ashamed to design it, make it or produce it? Today as these discussions begin on the ethics of product choices we make as consumers, one can hazard a guess that the day will come when we must look at our value systems and their relationship to our choices as producers. It has made me think upon the way things could go and I shall continue this discussion further.

  • Cooks, cools and charges your mobile phone

    Poverty, Industrial Design

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    A stove that uses acoustic technology to cook and cool, and generates its own electricity, is being designed for developing communities in Africa and Asia.

    The Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity, or SCORE, could help improve the health and quality of life for the 2 billion or so people in the world who cook over open fires, its developers say.

    When used in enclosed places, smoke from open fires can cause health problems. And the stoves can be notoriously inefficient.

    A person can spend two hours a day collecting wood to burn in a fire that is so wasteful that 93% of the energy generated, literally, goes up in smoke.

    "We make the burning more efficient so that they use less wood and have more time to spend on other things like education," says Paul Riley, the project director at the UK's University of Nottingham.

    [...] The stove has electrical sockets, where homeowners can plug in, for example, a mobile phone for charging. Or they can sell the electricity as a phone-charging service.

    Wow! Does it do windows as well?

    Via News in Science

  • Made from a bottle of water!

    Environment, Environmental Design

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    Did you ever wonder what happens to all those millions of plastic bottles after you put them in the recycling bin? Prepare to be surprised - Marks & Spencer and British Home Stores have recently announced they would each be selling a range of schoolwear made from recycled plastic bottles. The bottles have been chopped up into flakes, melted and then made into a polyester yarn, which is woven into cloth. The end result is a range of fleeces, polo shirts, trousers and skirts that will go on sale in the summer, and apparently don't melt under an iron. I'd watch out for those lunchboxes though, if I were mum!

  • _43062967_betsytop416x200

    This fascinating BBC report outlines in detail one woman's war on waste. Here's a snippet to lure you to go read her tips and tricks to minimize her household rubbish,

    Today it's reduce, reuse, recycle. For earlier generations, make do and mend. Done assiduously, the result is next to no rubbish. With zero waste the goal for many councils, a life-long adherent shares her tips in the first of our week-long look at recycling.

  • Harvesting water from the air

    Environment, Industrial Design

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    WatAir, an inverted pyramid made from elastic canvas, recycled polycarbonate, metal or glass, can reap dozens of litres of water a day from the air.

    The inexpensive solution could help bring clean drinking water to people in remote or polluted areas, its developers say.

    "The design has minimal special demands. It is low-tech and low-cost, and in fact can be even produced with local means," says Joseph Cory, a PhD candidate at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and an architect at Haifa's Geotectura Studio.

    Cory and colleague Eyal Malka of Malka Architects recently won first place for the invention in a competition sponsored by WaterAid, an international nonprofit organisation dedicated to providing safe domestic water to poor nations, and Arup, a UK-based firm specialising in sustainable designs.

    Cory and Malka were inspired by the passive way dew gathers on leaves, spiders' webs, even on sleeping bags and tents.

    via News in Science

"There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self." ~ Hindu Proverb

Contact Niti Bhan
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My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design