Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘suburban sprawl

‘Entropy Made Visible’

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‘Entropy made visible’: James Howard Kunstler talks about our suburban nightmare at TED 2008. Via the MeFi thread.

There are a lot of ways you can describe this. I like to call it “the national automobile slum.” You can call it “suburban sprawl.” I think it’s appropriate to call it “the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.” We can call it a “technosis externality clusterfuck.” And it’s a tremendous problem for us. The outstanding, the salient problem about this is that these are places that are not worth caring about.

Against Suburbs

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I’ve written before about the need for better civil engineering on the national scale in this country, to do whatever we can to reduce and reverse the tremendous damage caused by the short-sighted suburbification of America in the second half of the twentieth century. Via Ezra Klein comes an article at about how what we build influences how we live. One point the article could emphasize more—as Klein himself does in a follow-up post—is the extent to which desuburbification is not a tradeoff or a sacrifice but instead a return to a better way to live. Towards the end, though, it gets there:

Most arguments against land-use change presume that building compact communities is a trade-off; that investing in getting walkable, denser neighborhoods, we lose some or a lot of our affluence or quality of life. What if that’s not true, though? What if the gains actually far outweigh the costs not only in ecological and fiscal terms, but in lifestyle and prosperity terms as well? I think that’s the case.

I believe that green compact communities, smaller well-built homes, walkable streets and smart infrastructure can actually offer a far better quality of life than living in McMansion hintersprawl in purely material terms: more comfort, more security, more true prosperity. But even more to the point, I believe they offer all sorts of non-materialistic but extremely real benefits that suburbs cannot. Opponents of smart growth talk about sacrificing our way of life — but it’s not a sacrifice if what you get in exchange is superior.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 21, 2008 at 2:12 am

Water, Water Nowhere

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This year’s droughtthe worst the southeast has faced in 100 years and the worst the American West has faced in 500—is just the beginning.

An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn’t have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York’s reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.

Across America, the picture is critically clear – the nation’s freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.

The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.

The New York Times Magazine has much, much more. Discussion at MeFi.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 27, 2007 at 2:47 am

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