Control environment agriculture often called vertical agriculture is a form of urban farming that takes place in warehouses, not warehouses instead of acreage and fields, but warehouses full of drawers with plants and seedlings, stacked up to 30 feet or more. It’s a great answer to the environmental concerns of traditional agriculture but it is still new and still has kinks to work out. One great advantage is that it can be located near urban hubs and cut down on transportation costs, in fact some investors insist on that. It relies on LED technology for the needed light but that can sometimes be costly and there is so far only so much LED prices can be stretched and that may already have been reached. Some produce require more LED than others. Lettuce and herbs do well, but tomatoes require a lot more and so do strawberries. Another issue is, can what is being produced meet the increasing demand. It also requires a tech savvy workforce. And yet despite all this the field is thriving. It’s in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Georgia. What makes vertical farming great is the ability to grow food anywhere without consideration of climate. Every company has its own protocols which are well guarded which means that certain specifics about how each goes about it is not known. They guard their intellectual properties, growing system designs, materials and structure. By 2026 vertical farming is expected to grow worldwide to $9.7 billion business from a $3.1 billion one in 2021.
Vertical farming may be a growing business, and it may attract investors, but what’s attractive is not only being its ability to grow food in urban centers outside of traditional farming but also because it is an agricultural method that can transcend the constraints of climate—something that looks so promising.
It’s not exactly news, that kindness is good for us. And yet it does seem important that a new study validates the fact. The Kindness Test is a major new study devised by the university of Sussex and launched by BBC Radio 4 involving more than 60,000 people from 144 countries. They have been asking questions about what makes people be kind. The short answer is that it is because it makes people feel good. Some might even say it is not altruistic at all. They wanted to know if religion was a factor, and in a way it is, in the sense that kindness tends to be an expectation for those who are from religious households. But what is much more of a predictor is personality. Kindness involves being outward, reaching out to people, and extroverts are more likely to do that. In some cases, people may refrain from acts of kindness because they fear their action might be misunderstood. What seems to run across the board is that for those who receive an act of kindness as for those who initiate it, it increases a sense of well being and life satisfaction. Claudia Hammond visiting professor of the public understanding of psychology at the University of Sussex says “it’s a win-win because we like receiving kindness but we also like being kind.” The results of the study are being aired on BBC Radio 4 in a program called The Anatomy of Kindness and Hammond is the presenter. 60% of those who participated in the study said they had received an act of kindness in the previous 24hours. Hammond says that being kind may even stem from ulterior motives, making it a selfish act in a way, because we know from brain research that being kind straight away creates a warm fuzzy feeling. It also makes one feel that we are someone who cares about people and we want to be good. Regardless of all the particulars, the point is that kindness is much more prevalent than we might think.
As is often the case a simple answer makes us go, Wow, why didn’t we think of this before. In this case it has to so with Strut Safe a telephone service for young women walking alone at night. It was started by Alice Jackson and her friend Rachel Chung after they had attended a vigil for a young woman killed while walking home. It is based in Edinburgh, but given that the dangers of young women walking alone at night applies to so many towns and cities in so many countries, the idea deserves airing. Perhaps it will be copied and help others too. Sometimes the callers are out of breath because they have run or are scared, or even think they have heard someone following them. The trained volunteers reassure them, reminding them that they are right there with them and will be until they are safe at their destination. The callers are asked personal information, the kind that might be needed if there was to be a problem, so that police or ambulance could find them, not only name, address and birth date but also what they are wearing so that they can be easily identified. And the calls last until callers reach home or wherever. Right now the service which is funded through donations operates weekends only and is usually used by people walking home from a club, after having left a boyfriend, or going home from work. While the service has been publicized, most find the number through social media.
Although many young people may have cars, many don’t. Even in big cities where public transportation and services like Uber exist, services if they are in operation at night can be very slow, pointing to the need for this idea even if it is adapted to local conditions and local needs.
They have them in Europe and in Canada, now the United States will be able to have smart headlights too, thanks to a recent ruling by the Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—NHTSA, something I didn’t even know existed. Smart headlights are a technology which relies on sensors and LED. What they do is focus to illumine dark and unoccupied areas and reduce intensity of illumination when there is oncoming traffic. It all sounds so welcome, I suspect we’ve all had the experience of being blinded by traffic from the other side or not seeing certain areas well enough. Smart headlights will prevent crashes by better illuminating pedestrians, animals, and other objects without impairing the visibility of drivers. In 2019 research from the American Automobile Association found that the roadway illumination of the European cars with the adaptive beam headlight system—the formal name for smart headlights— increased by 86% when compared with the usual US cars on low beams. It may not sound like a big deal but it seems to me that it will make night driving not only much safer but much easier. In my neighborhood where streets are narrower than on main thoroughfares, coming home late and looking out for people who are too busy looking at their phones while walking their dogs will soon be that much less frustrating. I don’t know how long it will take for car makers in the US to install this technology into new models, but like rear cameras they are an exciting addition.