RE: Kyoto

Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 14:51:38 EDT

  • Next message: John W Burgeson: "Quantum Mechanics"

    Actually, what really enabled the suburbanization of America was the
    interstate highway system,
    begun in the Eisenhower era. The interstate highway system was an artifact
    of the cold war, a means
    of moving defensive forces rapidly anywhere in the country (one mile in
    five, I think, of all interstate
    highways had to be straight enough to land a plane on). Fast highways,
    connecting urban areas, and (especially) the
    beltways that allow you to drive around them, seeded the countryside with
    convenient centers
    for homeowners, and eventually businesses. The famous Route 128, in the
    Boston area allowed
    industry to move out of the central city, and the employment it provided
    (absent any public transit)
    forced people to use cars to get to work. I grew up in the area before
    that development really took
    hold, and people took commuter rail into Boston, driving at most to a
    parking lot at the train station.

    With industry distributed now, the damage is done. You can't get the
    people back into the cities
    without wrecking the economy. Hopefully, with the arrival of the "service
    economy" and "mind workers",
    more people can work from their homes, and cut down on the driving that

    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" <> on 04/23/2001
    12:18:58 PM

    Sent by:

    To: "'Jonathan Clarke'" <>
    Subject: RE: Kyoto


    I have found that it's better to live in a moderate-to-cold climate because
    one can always add clothing to keep warm, but there is a limit to how much
    clothing you can remove. ;-) I have read somewhere that loose fitting
    actually helps cool you by providing an airflow (updraft) between the
    clothing and the body, so there may be an optimum.

    The reason North American cities are so spread out is no doubt due to cheap
    and portable energy and affordable private cars. We all (well, many of us)
    want to have a grass buffer between ourselves and our neighbours and prefer
    to live in detached houses rather than in apartment buildings. As long as
    portable energy remains cheap, we will continue to do so.

    As far as I know, there are only three ways to turn this suburbanization
    1) increase the cost of portable energy
    2) make it difficult to drive in cities and encourage increased use of
    public transit
    3) rely on people to make a conscious decision to move closer together

    Increasing the cost of portable energy will come automatically when our
    resources run out or when society decides that "it's a good thing" for
    prices to go up.

    Encourage the use of public transit can be done by providing free public
    transit and use the money to fund this by cutting back on building roads.
    This is a case of "social engineering" and may not be acceptable to the
    public. IOW, politicians that advocate this won't get (re)elected.

    The third option is not likely to be a viable one as long as the
    and the media tout the advantages of suburbia.

    Problem is that, if we don't do something proactive, we will live with the
    consequences and these will include massive dislocation and disruptions.
    For example, those of us who live in suburbs would see the price of our
    homes plummet if the cost of portable energy goes through the roof. Since,
    for many of us, our home is our investment, we have a vested interest in
    maintaining the status quo: "après nous, le deluge."

    Chuck Vandergraaf

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