Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Climate Survey Results show Risks of Prioritizing Popularity

In advance of Wednesday's Climate Task Force meeting, the City's published the results of the March survey on potential climate actions.

In rough terms, it shows the risks of the popularity contest: Many of the most effective concepts at reducing emissions are also the least popular. On the broader objectives there is sometimes also a disconnect between the Task Force votes and the survey response. Our mania for free parking, and for driving generally, is an excellent example.

Salemites love driving and the free parking

Sidewalk repair and more open/green space were the most popular in the survey.

Broadly speaking the survey suggests that if we tailor a plan to what is popular, it will be ineffective and mainly symbolic. If we tailor a plan that actually accomplishes reductions in emissions, what we want it to accomplish, there will be opposition from some quarters.

It just seems like a good Plan has to be more top-down, data-driven, even a little technocratic. A bottom-up popularity contest won't be nearly effective.

On some planning horizons, it would be ok to have a middling plan and say we will revisit it in five or 10 years. But the planning horizon on this particular project is far more urgent, if we take seriously the goal of a 50% reduction by 2035 and much more by 2050.

The Task Force and City leadership will likely have to choose: Effective or popular.

For an Elected that might look like a bad dilemma, but of course it's also opportunity for outstanding leadership.

It will be interesting to see how the Task Force assesses and filters all this, and there will be more to say when the project team and City publish a more focused set of recommendations for further refinement.


Addendum, Thursday

Here's a clip and comment via FB from Wedenesday's meeting.

Trees and gardens rather than fossil fuel

The popular ideas aren't enough about reducing fossil fuels and carbon pollution. Especially on the "community" side, they are more about aesthetics than function.

Addendum 2, Saturday

Now the City and project team have published some of the meeting materials. Here is the slide deck on the survey (note that it is not hosted on the city's website, and you should download it if you want to see it after the project ends; the url may be dynamically generated, also, and it is possible it will not be persistent).

Effectiveness needs more attention!
Some of these others are just concern trolling

Is this "diversity" or "disagreement"?

A lot of the least popular are also the most effective


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with clip from the meeting.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

To have a sham plan is worse than having no plan at all.

MikeSlater said...

I wouldn't dismiss the community's response as aesthetics. I think it tells us something important about what people want from their urban environment: more contact with nature. The fact that the community list doesn't coincide with the most impactful policies on greenhouse gases has more to do with a poor survey design.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Re: "what people want from their urban environment: more contact with nature"

We disagree on the way this should be evaluated. The claim here is that this wish for more contact with nature is generally understood by autoist logic and autoist aesthetics. What people want is ornamental emptiness in autoist spacing: Big lots, single houses, lots of trees, useful things spaced far apart at car-dependent distances, parks fringed by few residences and no businesses, with uncrowded and often empty parky amenities. It should be pretty, and too many people ruin pretty.

For more discussion of this see "No Ornamental Emptiness at the State Hospital!" (2014), "An Avenging Angel of Autoism and Ada Louise Huxtable at the Sculpture Garden" (2014), "Stream of Mystery and too much Open Space: Shelton Ditch and Pringle Creek Paths" (2018), and "The Sense of Good Cents: Ornament for the Mill Race's Emptiness" (2018).

Once we get out from under the autoism, then we can have a useful conversation about contact with nature. But until the "natural" destinations are conceived fundamentally as walk-to destinations to be in rather than drive-to destinations to look at, we whiff on the emissions problem.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added more clips from the slide deck for the meeting.)

greg said...

The task force disappoints me in that eliminating parking minimums is on their bottom ten preferences.

Shows they still have a too car centric mind set.