While I try to avoid particularly depressing news in this newsletter, there is no hiding from this week's IPCC report into global warming - that states, as many of us knew, that a significant portion of global warming is already "locked in", and that considerably more is on the way if we don't do something this decade.
Tackling global warming is probably one of the greatest infrastructural challenges of this century, and has to be a war fought on multiple fronts - emissions reduction, adapting buildings to more extreme climates, and attempting geo-engineering to undo emissions that are already out there.
What I do want to underline, though, is that we are more than capable of rising to the challenge. If you were around in the 90s, you surely remember the hole in the ozone layer - well, thanks to global cooperation, that's now healing. In fact, existing climate change action has already reduced the worst-case scenario from a truly apocalyptic 4.5 degrees of warming to a slightly apocalyptic 2.5. There's a long way to go, and new solutions to find, but don't think that we're all doomed quite yet.
My home country of the UK is not a particularly mountainous place - yes, it's blessed with beautiful rolling hills, and some parts have some lovely mountain ranges (looking at you, Lake District and the Scottish Highlands), but a lot of it is very flat. And so, if you want to build a transmission tower, you build something very, very tall - 300 metres, or approximately 100 stories tall.
Of course, when you build something that big you really want to get your money's worth, so you pump five hundred kilowatts of radio power into it so the signal reaches a large part of Yorkshire. Now, radio energy is a strange beast, but as someone who's caused his speakers to be very unhappy using only fifty watts out of a nearby antenna, I am terrified of that amount.
And, it turns out, with good reason - because some maintenance on the tower this week appears to have caused a fire that's taken out the transmission equipment for at least two weeks, if not longer. No word yet quite how this happened - they ruled out "criminal activity" - but I can think of several ways that misplacing a hundred kilowatts or so could start a fire.
The Hyperloop people are back again, this time in Europe, talking about how we can get super-high-speed travel between various European city centres and ditch the array of cheap, polluting short-haul flights that currently ply the skies over the continent.
Look, I do love high-speed trains, and I would love to see an amazing high-speed network between all the various cities replace a lot of those flights, but maybe we should try building a normal high-speed railway network first, since they're already really fast, and the problems Europe currently has like "agreeing on the power voltage" and "agreeing on signalling systems" are probably a bit easier to solve than building giant tubes everywhere.
Though, I do like how science-fiction these renderings look. I'm always a sucker for really shiny minimalist-future stuff.
Picture the scene - you're in charge of revitalising a nice, but slightly low-on-foot-traffic area of London. The obvious idea would be to pedestrianise the famous shopping street right in the middle of it like everyone has been asking for, but no, you have a better idea - build a giant, artifical hill next to a park.
Yup, that's the Marble Arch Mound, and it's going about as well as you'd expect. Looking like a low-polygon Playstation 1 game met a Deep Dream AI image generator, its ugly exterior towers over the nearby park, the view mostly blocked by trees and buildings. Unsurprisingly, people are starting to resign from the project after it turns out it was a bad idea all along.
I'm the biggest fan of weird, large-scale public art you can probably find, but this is not how you do it, people. Give me the six million pounds this thing cost and we can get at least a few permanent giant sculptures out of it, or maybe even a nice weird cavernous building designed to interact with annual sun positions, or something.