Land Use and Climate Change


Tom Steinbach and Miek Howe of the Greenbelt Alliance, a San Francisco area group that promotes the protection of open space in the Bay Area and advocates for building homes in established urban areas, make an important point about two different ways to reduce emissions from cars: change the cars, or build communities where people can both work and live affordably.

They use an example of Dan, who drives an SUV to work and spends sixty bucks a week on gas. If he switched to a hybrid he would spend only fifteen bucks, but if he moved, he would only spend three. " the two ways to reduce emissions from transportation: increasing fuel economy and using low-carbon fuels ("technology"); and decreasing the number of miles driven ("travel")."

Yet in California, all of the energy and effort is being spent on fixing cars, and little on fixing community.
They continue:

This being the Bay Area, it's no surprise that we're making headway on the technology front in fighting global warming. Google and other tech firms have made big investments in plug-in hybrid cars, and more and more people are buying Priuses or even converting their cars to biodiesel. Technological innovations are at the heart of the Bay Area's culture and economy. We are experts at thinking outside the box and dreaming big - not building a better CD player, but instead rethinking the whole way we purchase and listen to music.

But when it comes to the other side of the equation - just driving less - it's like we're still using 8-track tapes in an iPod world. Why are we still building as if it's the 1950s, and we think strip malls, subdivisions and freeways are symbols of the good life?

It's time to turn the Bay Area's innovative talent to the question of how to use our land well. Instead of saying, "We have to drive, but maybe we should drive a different kind of car," let's ask, "How can we make it easier to get where we want to go?" Let's envision a better way to live for people and the planet, and let's start making it happen. ::SF Gate via ::Planetizen

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