TreeHugger types really do want to take your pickup trucks, rebuild your homes and take away your hamburgers

Sebastian Gorka
© Alex Wong/Getty Images

It's the way to build better cities, better homes, and a healthier diet.

Former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka spoke at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference and complained about the Green New Dealers: “They want to take your pickup truck. They want to rebuild your home. They want to take away your hamburgers.” He forgot that we also want to ruin your birthday parties by taking away your balloons.

This is not a new trope. Years ago, Joe Mysak of Bloomberg complained that urbanism was a socialist plot, and complained about people in favour of increasing density and improving transit:

The notion appeals especially to people who like to think they'll be in charge after the revolution. They would apparently love nothing more than for the population to be confined to Soviet-style concrete-block high-rises and be forced to take state-run streetcars to their little jobs at the mill.

And who can forget Rosa Koire of Democrats against Agenda 21, going on about bike lanes as a socialist plot.

Agenda 21Lloyd Alter: Jarvis Street bike lane/CC BY 2.0

Bikes. What does that have to do with it? I like to ride my bike and so do you. So what? Bicycle advocacy groups are very powerful now ...It's not just about bike lanes, it's about remaking cities and rural areas to the 'sustainable model'. High density urban development without parking for cars is the goal. This means that whole towns need to be demolished and rebuilt in the image of sustainable development. Bike groups are being used as the 'shock troops' for this plan.

GMC DenaliGMC Denali Torchinsky Scale 10 BP scale 10/CC BY 1.0

The problem with the statements by Gorka, Mysak and Koire is that they are all true. We do want to stop the spread of giant SUVs and pickup trucks that have taken over the roads, that are killing people at three times the rate as regular cars, or at least make them as safe as regular cars.

We really do want to rebuild houses and buildings so that they are healthier, more energy efficient and cheaper to operate. We would love to do an Energiesprong wrapping of insulation on every house in the country.

And while we don’t want to take away your hamburgers, TreeHugger Sami wants to replace them with tasty fake burgers, and reduce the amount of meat that we all eat. It’s not just about CO2, but also about health, about antibiotics, and about land use.

courtyard in  Seestadt Aspern.Courtyard in Seestadt Aspern/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

When it comes to land use, and transit, I would agree with Mysak; we need denser housing, although I wouldn’t suggest concrete block. I might even go farther than Gorka and suggest we shouldn’t just rebuild the American home, but we have to intensify it; I quoted Alex Steffen in a presentation at CBX19 in Toronto:

There is a direct relationship between the kinds of places we live, the transportation choices we have, and how much we drive. We know that density reduces driving. We know that we're capable of building really dense new neighborhoods and even of using good design, infill development and infrastructure investments to transform existing medium-low density neighborhoods into walkable compact communities.

It’s easy to laugh at Fox News commentators who think that the Green New Deal will lead to cannibalism, with one commentator saying, “I don’t want to eat people, Greg, and I don’t want people to eat me.” Timpf said, “AOC, do you want people to eat you?” (TreeHugger wishes to state that we do not approve of cannibalism; people are meat too).

When Graham Hill started TreeHugger back in 2004, he stressed that we were supposed to be apolitical. “We are not red or blue, we’re green,” he would say whenever we stepped over the line. But I do not know how you do this in an era when everything that Sebastian Gorka thinks is a horrible threat sounds like a good environmental strategy to me.

TreeHugger types really do want to take your pickup trucks, rebuild your homes and take away your hamburgers
It's the way to build better cities, better homes, and a healthier diet.

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