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Understand me: I have nothing against rural Nebraska, and I am not saying that you should not live there; but I am saying that living there is steadily going to become more and more expensive, and it will be quite simply unaffordable for those that are not rich.

I think that Jerome a Paris possibly underestimates the problem. Almost all of North America has been built on the assumption of car transport and unlimited land. This includes urban and rural areas. The cost to provide environmentally friendly anything is prohibitive except in the biggest of cities, and even there...

Compare Barcelona with Toronto - for example. Toronto is an environmental - urban sprawl nightmare (not to mention that all the interesting buildings have been destroyed in the name of progress). Toronto has 3 times the population - too bad it has maybe 20% of the subway system. Look at the buildings in Barcelona - 5-7 story multi res. everywhere. Compare that to the huge number of single family dwellings of Toronto. The reason for the sorry state of mass transit in Toronto is immediately obvious. That - and the fact that Toronto has built the last 3 subway lines in the wrong place or in the wrong way... very expensive mistakes that provide short term gain.

US cities are the same. Forget about rural Nebraska. The rural population will be the least of the world's problems. The very poor will continue to live and die in third world misery in rural America. That will not change. The cost and difficulty of rectifying the urban problems of North America will probably mean that North America will continue to be part of the problem when it comes to global warming. Even things that should help will be done wrong.

Having recently walked the Camino de Santiago - it became extremely clear to me that Spanish cities were made for walking. North American cities were made for cars. The life that it is possible to lead in Spain is very different than the life that it is possible to lead in North America in general and the US in particular. It will not be as simple as embracing mass transit and driving smaller cars, or even moving to the city. Depopulating rural Nebraska of the poor will not happen.  In particular the poor will be shafted, and will not participate if they can at all help it, as they have no obvious stake - and far more pressing immediate concerns.  In any case, the United States will probably have to lose Florida before people stand up and take notice - and then they will blame the Democratic Party and the Liberals.

This is not just a North American problem. Spanish factory trawlers are helping to turn our oceans into deserts - with the active support of the Spanish people.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:04:43 PM EST
I think that Jerome a Paris possibly underestimates the problem. Almost all of North America has been built on the assumption of car transport and unlimited land. This includes urban and rural areas. The cost to provide environmentally friendly anything is prohibitive except in the biggest of cities, and even there...

People have been telling Jerome this for forever.  I really do think he's going to have to pack up and move here to fully comprehend the scale of the problem.  But I don't see that happening, so I wish he would just take our word for it.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:21:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This always sounds to me like saying that because the problem is big it's not worth trying to fix.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we weren't going to read things into each others' comments now?

It's not a reason to not fix the problem, but understanding the scope of the problem better might go a loooong way toward understanding why Americans are so hesitant and intimidated by thought of tackling it.  You are literally talking about radically changing the basic infrastracture of the 3rd largest country in the world.  It can and should be done.  But you are going to have a hard time convincing people if it seems you don't really have a good grasp of what you are proposing.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:52:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What part do you think he doesn't seem to understand?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The failure to fix the problem is so huge as to make the loss of Florida the least of our problems. We can not afford not to fix the problem - but that is just what I am afraid will happen.

Talking about mass transit without talking about fundamental shifts in urban planning and even fundamental shifts in our personal goals and life style is not going to go very far. The idea of the white picket fence two cars and 2.2 children - large lot on a dead end street in a suburb carefully designed to maximise the dead end streets is not viable - environmentally or economically.

We must understand what it means to say that this neighbourhood - (and the 500-1000-5000 whatever number of people who live in it) need to be redesigned so roads are friendly to mass transit. That the population density needs to be at least tripled to encourage economic activity and mass transit. We must deal with the mess we have now - intelligently. Sticking busses on the road and watch them drive around all day without any passengers on them will not make things better - and that is just what happens in the small city - large town that I live in.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:00:15 PM EST
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The problem is so big it's hard to imagine where to start fixing it. In involves very basic attitudes to quality of life.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:31:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd wish you'd make up your mind whether I should come because I underestimate the problem or because I underestimate it...

Maybe, just maybe I'm aware of the situation and trying to write nuanced stories, you know?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:44:57 PM EST
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Did you mean to say "overestimate" once?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:48:25 PM EST
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Pure "underestimating".  You underestimate how wacked out the Right is, how Euro-style liberal some on the left are, and how much people rely on their cars. :)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:55:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just hoping that everybody will actually read what I wrote?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they do.  I hope they do.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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