I can only echo what has already been said, with my own comments based on
frequent business travel to the UK.
Over there, they have very intelligent laws that do not allow people to
build subdivisions wherever they want to. Towns must be planned and green
space is left intentionally as farmland. Thus the nation can grow its own
food, though it is much more densely populated than the US: the whole of
England, Scotland, and Wales has upwards of 50M people in an area about the
size of California.
An additional benefit is efficiency of mass transport, on which much has
already been said.
The problem we Americans have is our rock-solid belief that "freedom"
includes the "right" to build your house wherever you want, come hell or
high water. This extreme selfishness is a deep form of sin, IMO, and we
will pay a terrible price for this someday when the oil does run out.
I would be unelectable in this country, for if I ran for office we'd be
paying at least twice as much for gasoline, with the difference being a tax
that *must* be used *only* for building rail transit systems powered by
electricity. No more airports, no more highways, just rail. I'd want
greatly to reduce our use of cars, esp SUVs (Sinful and Ugly Vehicles) and
provide powerful economic incentives for people not to build more
subdivisions and suburbs around cars, but to do what the Brits do. We'd
still be paying a bit more than half what the Brits pay for gas on this
proposal, but the howls would be tenfold what they hear. We're just
gutless, as a people, on this issue.
I just see no way to change the public mindset on this, however. When we
run out of oil, I really do fear the worst.
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