Saturday, October 13, 2018

Building Dot Map and Editorial on Climate Report - In the News

Only the buildings are marked (red comments added)
via NY Times
The New York Times yesterday published an interactive map of buildings in the lower 48 states. No roads, no parks. Everything else is an absence, white space.

You can see here the transition from downtown to the areas where apartments are banned and there's a near monoculture of single-family homes. It says something about the inefficiency of the ways we use land in an urban setting. But you can already see that from zoning maps, and so I'm not sure this is dramatically new.

Consequently, I didn't see any "ah-ha"s or anything that crystallized a kind of gestalt shift. Maybe it's more ambiguous than that. Maybe you will have an interpretive angle that sheds new light on something.

Just generally its kindof neat and we might come back to it.

Check it out at the NY Times.

The Limits of our Autoism

Ad and editorial in yesterday's paper
Also yesterday, it was nice to see the editorial in the paper, "UN climate change report isn't recipe for despair or paralysis."

At the same time, the piece enacted itself some of the same despair-inducing moves it purported to ward off.

Among its recommendations it led with not driving. "Start with how you get to work. Walking or biking burns only body fat. Public transportation and car pooling save energy."

That is all true.

But we've been saying this since the 1970s.

Plainly it has not been effective and is not enough.

What we need now is system change, not the individual actions of virtuous-minded individuals.

You will recall that The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a report, "The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ÂșC," and said
Transitional changes are already underway in many systems but limiting warming to 1.5°C would require a rapid escalation in the scale and pace of transition, particularly in the next 10-20 years. While limiting warming to 1.5°C would involve many of the same types of transitions as limiting warming to 2°C, the pace of change would need to be much faster. While the pace of change that would be required to limit warming to 1.5°C can be found in the past, there is no historical precedent for the scale of the necessary transitions, in particular in a socially and economically sustainable way. Resolving such speed and scale issues would require people’s support, public-sector interventions and private-sector cooperation. [italics added]
As long as the newspaper is so dependent on car advertising, there is no incentive for them to be as critical about cars and driving as they need to be, and they may not be able to grapple with the scope of changing systems.

The editorial should have advocated for a massive increase in the gas tax and for Pigouvian taxes on driving and car use.

In its other areas of recommendation, structural moves should have been outlined also. A personal choice to eat less meat is wise, but it should also address the system of factory farming. And so on. It requires engaging what is sometimes derided as the "nanny state," and arguing for why elements of that might be necessary.

That means being critical about big advertisers and structural elements of our current arrangements.

The absence of these in the editorial is symptomatic of our inability to engage the problem, and is itself despair-inducing.


Anonymous said...

The buildings are a new data set that Microsoft published over the summer. It's going to be a useful data set for GIS people and has been attempted by a few state agencies, but this is the most complete so far.

Anonymous said...

Here's Strong Towns on it -