The largest power source in this neck of the universe is still 93 million miles away from Earth. But its energy-producing potential for our planet is closer than ever to truly being realized.
Solar power has been touted for decades as being the ultimate answer to our energy needs. According to researchers at MIT, the amount of sunlight striking the earth’s surface is more than 10,000 times greater than the world’s total energy usage. Or as solar advocates like to put it, one hour of sunshine can create one year’s worth of energy.
While many people enter a new year with a resolution to lose weight, James Fowler’s goal is to put some of the roads within the UAB campus on a diet instead. As the Director of Planning Design and Construction at UAB, Fowler is working with Birmingham city officials to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic on campus streets by improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. The idea is to decrease the area of the existing surface streets dedicated to cars, a process Fowler calls “road diets.”
“This allows us the flexibility to add things like bike lanes, wider sidewalks, better crosswalks and landscaped mediums,” Fowler said. “It will help us create a more livable, attractive campus.”
The March of the Millennials has replaced the White Flight of the 1960s and ‘70s. For several decades, urban areas throughout the United States – including Birmingham – steadily lost residential population to the surrounding suburbs. There were a variety of reasons for this, including racial and social issues. But the bottom line was that many downtowns were active only during business hours, with the buildings and streets becoming deserted beginning at 5:01 p.m. each day.
The view from the corner of 23rd Street and 14th Avenue North is actually quite lovely. That is, as long as you keep your gaze fixed in the direction of the downtown skyline and don’t look at the area immediately around you.
This part of Birmingham sits atop a small bluff, providing a nice panoramic view of the downtown buildings barely a mile to the south and the ridge of Red Mountain off in the distance. But turn around and you are greeted with the sight of a dilapidated abandoned house.
It is difficult to bridge economic and social gaps when there is an actual bridge standing in the way. That is the situation Birmingham has been facing for nearly a half-century, ever since Interstate 20/59 was completed near the northern edge of downtown, creating a concrete-and-steel barrier between the central business district, the Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex and the nearby neighborhoods of Druid Hills, Fountain Heights, and Norwood.