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Prosperity index of world’s countries reveals where democratic capitalism working best

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An international think tank that promotes prosperity through democratic capitalism has named Canada the world’s freest country. The annual Legatum Prosperity Index, which ranks 142 of the world’s countries according to their health, wealth and overall happiness, puts Canada in sixth place for 2015, down a spot since 2014. In the category of personal freedom, however, Canada is in first place. Canada is more tolerant of immigrants than any other country, and 92 per cent of Canadians think the country is a good place for “ethnic minorities.” The vast majority, 94 per cent, believe that we have the freedom to choose how we want to live our lives. To create ... Read More »

UCLA team captures CO2 in cement production, puts it into concrete

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Turning a harmful by-product of an industrial process into a harmless raw material of the end product itself is the result of some “blue sky” thinking at UCLA. Researchers there have found a way to take carbon dioxide, which is emitted in large quantities during the manufacture of Portland Cement, and use it to make concrete. The production of concrete accounts for about 5 per cent of CO2 emissions in the world, so being able to use that carbon in making concrete would be “a double whammy,” according to the UCLA team. They are calling their invention Co2ncrete. The team developed their proof of concept by combining pure CO2 with ... Read More »

NYC’s $4 billion subway station: masterpiece or boondoggle?

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New York City just opened a new subway station. It cost $4 billion and took twelve years to build. Architecture critic Michael Kimmelman wrote in the New York Times that the price paid for the “dino carcass” was an unconscionable use of public funds, a boondoggle. Can anyone even imagine such a thing being approved in Toronto? Four billion dollars for one subway station? Of course it’s not just any old station. In the first place, it is the work of world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, and the main hall of the building is grandly designated the Oculus (eye). And it is described officially as the World Trade Centre Hub, though ... Read More »

Mushroom-based material can replace polystyrene; Ikea latest to consider using

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There isn’t much that’s good to be said about polystyrene, or Styrofoam. It’s safe for use with food, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. It’s light and makes a pretty good packing material for electronics and other fragile products. Other than that, it’s all negative. It’s made from petroleum, which is non-sustainable, non-renewable, and heavily polluting. Production of polystyrene creates the second-worst impact on the environment, in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; only aluminum production is worse, according to a fact sheet from Harvard University. It is a main component in urban litter and marine debris, is detrimental to wildlife, does not biodegrade, takes up ... Read More »

Bjarke Ingels’ Toronto condos: playful form for a change

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It would be sad if the most diverse city in the world had the most homogeneous real estate. So said one of the world’s favourite architects, Bjarke Ingels, speaking about Toronto, where he gave a lecture last night. The Danish-born, New York-based founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) has his first Toronto project in the works, and it promises to put into practice what he spoke about in his lecture: building communities through architecture. Ingels is certainly not the first, whether famous architect or ordinary observer, to note that much of Toronto’s architecture is bland and boring. Frank Gehry called it mediocre. What Ingels has proposed for the King Street ... Read More »

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