Greenspace August 7, 2013 By Jordan Sayle

James Hansen in 2012 by Josh Lopez

James Hansen in 2012 by Josh Lopez / Bill McKibben by Steve Liptay

hansen mckibben header3 McKibben & Hansen
If any individual deserves credit above all others for raising public awareness about the dangers of fossil fuel reliance, it might be Dr. James Hansen, who has been studying the issue intensely since the mid-seventies. He became the first scientist to testify about global warming in front of Congress 25 summers ago. And if there’s anyone who has taken bold steps in response to such warnings, it is the writer/activist Bill McKibben, who has helped organize a global network to rally support for addressing the problem.

Both men have the arrest records to prove their dedication to the climate fight, so PLANET was interested in gaining their personal reactions to the summer that has so far seen boldface climate-related developments on a number of fronts. The season began with the first measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide in excess of 400 parts per million, as recorded by NOAA researchers stationed in Hawaii. It also brought perhaps the most concrete plan of action yet by a sitting U.S. president to address the issue. Whether you’ve spent this summer of 400 ppm in the tornado-afflicted Great Plains, the fire-ravaged West, the rain-soaked Southeast, or under the oppressive heat dome that has covered much of the rest of the country, the news is bound to resonate.

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Architecture August 5, 2013 By Nalina Moses

Roeder House, Fire Island Pines, NY, 1969.  Architect Horace Gifford.

Roeder House, Fire Island Pines, NY, 1969. Architect Horace Gifford.

building pleasure header Building Pleasure
Between 1962, just a few years after he left school, and 1992, when he died, architect Horace Gifford built forty modern houses on Fire Island, the sandy sliver of land that buffers Long Island from the Atlantic Ocean.  A new book by Christopher Bascom Rawlins, Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction, recognizes his legacy.

Fire Island, a 31-mile long stretch of ungroomed white beaches and wild grasses that, at its widest points, is not even three miles wide, is a fragile landscape, vulnerable to storms and erosion, with minimal infrastructure. Most areas are connected with boardwalks and have no roads, and are reached from the mainland most easily by ferry. This unique geography fosters tight, intimate communities, and over the decades the island has been a vibrant haven for artists and for gay men and women. In the summer its population swells with day-trippers and revelers.

Gifford’s houses, modestly scaled and terrifically stylish, suit both the place and the people. They’re constructed from the same mundane materials that suburban wood frame houses are, but rendered in sophisticated modern forms.


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