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City Living may lead to Greener World- Straits Times


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I'm in Singapore, and its my birthday today.

 

Not much connection between the two, but the GF thought it would be a good idea to get away from HK for a few days, and the timing was good for early October. So we flew over this morning.

 

I have spent most of the day reacquainting myself with a city that has changed enormously in the 25 years since I was last here. In many ways, it is similar to HK, but greener, less crowded, and with less pollution.

 

And the city seems ripe to a message that seems to begin getting through to many people in Asia, if not yet much in the US:

 

If we are going to have a better quality of life, and not run through all the world's remaining resources in only 2-3 generations, we will have to live more compact, and less wasteful lives. By dint of lack of space, two Asian city-states, Hong Kong and Singapore seem to have hit upon this formula. Now it is up to the rest of the world to catch on, and catch-up, or see their relative wealth erode, as resources - and enrgy in particular - become more expensive.

 

== ==

 

I wrote the above after seeing an article in today's Straits Times, on a subject near and dear to me: living a more compact live, to waste less resources. The article was entititled:

 

City Living may lead to a Greener World, by David Owen.

 

The writer has just finished a book:

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less

are the Keys to Sustainability

 

nytimes_greenmetropolis211.jpg

 

From the long title alone, many here on GEI would know that I would be in full agreement.

 

Before summarising some statistics in the article, I would like to repeat an anecdote it contained:

 

"At an environmental presentation last year, I sat next to an investment banker who was initially sceptikal when I explained that New Yorkers have a significantly lower environmental impact than other Americans. 'But that's just because they are all crammed together,' he said.

 

Well, yes. He then disparaged New Yorkers' energy efficiency as 'unconscious', as though intention were more important than results. In fact, unconscious efficiencies are the most desirable ones, because they require neither enforcement nor a personal commitment."

 

Here, here !

 

Can someone please hand me a brick, and point me in the direction of that investment banker, and his ilk. Because they need waking up, and just maybe a brick will do it.

 

It is truly time, to move away from the voluntary small efforts of those witrh a green conscience, towards finding more enduring methods ofv reducing waste and over-consumption of resources- before it is too late for the wasteful ones, and also too late for our planet.

 

Here are some statistics from the article:

 

+ The average New Yorker generates 7.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, that's 30 percent of what the average American does (24.5 tonnes), but more than the average Swede (5.6 tonnes). Residents of Manhattan use less than average New Yorkers, and less than the average Swede

 

+ Manhattan's density is 67,000 people per square mile, more than 800 times the US average, and roughly 30 times the density of Los Angeles (Detroit is similar to LA< I reckon- both are "car towns", with sparling ugly highway systems,

 

+ New Yorkers use less water, burn less fossil fuel, and produce less waste. Therei households also use much less electricity: 4,696 kw hours p.a., versus 16,116 kw hours in Dallas. Most important, New York's comprehensive public transit system enables the majority of residents to live without cars

 

+ Some 82 per cent of Mahattanites travel to work by public transport, bicycle or on foot. That's 10 times the rate for Americans in general and 8x LA.

 

That's truly the secret : living densely enough to get rid of the dependence on the automobile.

 

Why does the average American use three times as much oil as the average European? As someone quoted in the article put it:

"It's not a secret, and it's not the result of some miraculous technological breakthrough. It's because Europeans are more likely to live in dense cities, and less likely to own cars."

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I'm in Singapore, and its my birthday today.

 

Not much connection between the two, but the GF thought it would be a good idea to get away from HK for a few days, and the timing was good for early October. So we flew over this morning.

 

I have spent most of the day reacquainting myself with a city that has changed enormously in the 25 years since I was last here. In many ways, it is similar to HK, but greener, less crowded, and with less pollution.

 

And the city seems ripe to a message that seems to begin getting through to many people in Asia, if not yet much in the US:

 

If we are going to have a better quality of life, and not run through all the world's remaining resources in only 2-3 generations, we will have to live more compact, and less wasteful lives. By dint of lack of space, two Asian city-states, Hong Kong and Singapore seem to have hit upon this formula. Now it is up to the rest of the world to catch on, and catch-up, or see their relative wealth erode, as resources - and enrgy in particular - become more expensive.

Happy birthday.

 

In a low energy world do you see the amount of global trade and specialization being maintained? I'm not convinced.

 

Not meaning to sound too mad max... Looking at a possible historic parallel, the collapse of the pax romana: cities failed to maintain suitable sanitation and failed to aquire sufficient food. There was massive depopulation in the cities, even though nothing internally had changed, just the collapse of trade & increased taxation (plausible?). It does not take a long period of upheaval to make the life of a city resident difficult and unpleasant.

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Owen goes on making points that I have made before, but making them with clearer langauge:

 

"Moving from walking, bicycling, and public transport to driving is simple because it requires only wealth. Moving from driving back to transit, bicylcing, and walking is far harder because the cars themselves are only part of the problem. Much more critical is the inherent inefficiency of the way of life that cars both enable and make necessary, and of the sprawling web of wasteful infrastructure that high levels of individual mechanised mobility lead affluent society to create.

 

Sooner or later, whatever happens, the world will run out of inexpensive oil. Countries with expnading economies would be better off using their new wealth to create ways of life that can be siustained beyond that inescapable point, rather than investing recklessly in a futrure that has no future (ie the suburbs - my note)

 

Not jumping off a cliff (as US suburbanities have done), is easier than turning around in mid-fall."

 

So where dio you think the coming carsh will be most and least felt?

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Happy Birthday!

 

I don’t like the urban living idea myself; my utopic idea is for most people to live in larger but very well insulated homes, with solar panels and other energy efficient items but also with enough land to grow a little food.

City living is OK for young adults and single ‘Man/woman about town’ types but for me that’s where the attraction ends.

 

It’s great to visit my wife’s village, everyone you pass says hello and people are generally friendlier than people in cities, saying that my wife found it claustrophobic..

 

If you are a tin hat type, you are naturally not going to like cities.

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...the collapse of the pax romana: cities failed to maintain suitable sanitation and failed to aquire sufficient food...

This need not necessarily be a problem but we might need to change our diets.

 

Grow upwards!

http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/lofive....php/t6402.html

 

The video I linked to there has gone but can be seen here instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xShCEKL-mQ8

 

The Cuba video from that thread has gone too, but the premise is that after the US blocked off oil supplies they were forced to grow on every spare bit of city land they could find.

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This need not necessarily be a problem but we might need to change our diets.

 

Grow upwards!

http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/lofive....php/t6402.html

 

The video I linked to there has gone but can be seen here instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xShCEKL-mQ8

 

The Cuba video from that thread has gone too, but the premise is that after the US blocked off oil supplies they were forced to grow on every spare bit of city land they could find.

Havana is a fairly small low-rise city.

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Happy Birthday boss!

 

So the 'acceptable' choices are:-

 

1) Living in a city bound box relying on the infrastructure to remain in place to cater for one's needs

 

Or

 

2) Being as self-sufficient as possible out in the sticks (my choice)

 

In between car-reliant (cos there is naff-all else) suburbia is the death? - Maybe in the USA but in the UK (where I no longer choose to live) much suburbia is served by a public transport, so most of the time No1 applies; but it is still death IMHO without the Cuban approach as if/when the cheap oil vanishes only No2 can work

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY

 

Part of the problem is critical mass. With the majorities in the Western World driving cars, public/mass transport does not have the utilisation and therefore the cost effectiveness that it would have if car use was restricted to say 20% of total journeys

 

Ignoring the fuel & waste argument there is another powerful force at play and thats congestion. The car is a victim of its own success. But if car use were to reduce by say 30% that in turn would have a big positive impact on congestion.

 

This is one issue that will not be solved positively by market forces alone!!!

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Havana is a fairly small low-rise city.

By "grow upwards" I don't mean window boxes in apartment buildings, it's about growing food on trees and bushes instead of eating wheat. The yield goes up, less energy is required and biodiversity increases. The Cuba experience is more about making more use of the available land. Forest farming within and around cities could help a lot with the food requirements.

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Owen goes on making points that I have made before, but making them with clearer langauge:

 

"Moving from walking, bicycling, and public transport to driving is simple because it requires only wealth. Moving from driving back to transit, bicylcing, and walking is far harder because the cars themselves are only part of the problem. Much more critical is the inherent inefficiency of the way of life that cars both enable and make necessary, and of the sprawling web of wasteful infrastructure that high levels of individual mechanised mobility lead affluent society to create.

 

Sooner or later, whatever happens, the world will run out of inexpensive oil. Countries with expnading economies would be better off using their new wealth to create ways of life that can be siustained beyond that inescapable point, rather than investing recklessly in a futrure that has no future (ie the suburbs - my note)

 

Not jumping off a cliff (as US suburbanities have done), is easier than turning around in mid-fall."

 

So where dio you think the coming carsh will be most and least felt?

Geographically - cities, socio-economically - the poor. I think it's always been and always will be that way.

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............... but since tptb cannot get it right they now cover all bases by calling the scam 'climate change' - anyone notice  when we switched from 'global cooling' to 'global warming' to 'climate change'?

 

If you noticed this then you are paying attention!

 

Yep, I Noticed this but yet the masses still call it global warming - lol

 

I personally subscribe, 2) Being as self-sufficient as possible out in the sticks (my choice)

 

I think more can be achieved this way than all being crammed into citys. a downside to living in the city is "expansion" what happens when everyone starts breeding ? how can they grow their own food for a start ?

 

I've now got that Bill Hicks sketch rolling through my mind "filling up my trailer like a sardine can" - lol

 

Population is the biggest concern....... there TOO many of us.

 

 

BTW - many happy returns Dr B :)

 

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Yep, I Noticed this but yet the masses still call it global warming - lol

 

I personally subscribe, 2) Being as self-sufficient as possible out in the sticks (my choice)

 

I think more can be achieved this way than all being crammed into citys. a downside to living in the city is "expansion" what happens when everyone starts breeding ? how can they grow their own food for a start ?

 

I've now got that Bill Hicks sketch rolling through my mind "filling up my trailer like a sardine can" - lol

 

Population is the biggest concern....... there TOO many of us.

 

 

BTW - many happy returns Dr B :)

There was no switch from global cooling. This was covered in the "The Great Global Warming Swindle" thread. http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/index....st&p=118203

 

Too many of us? Quite possibly, certainly if we all want to be self sufficient out in the sticks, but I'm glad I don't have to look at the fallout from that quip ;)

 

Expansion isn't necessarily a problem. The article states that people in cities have fewer children.

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Happy Birthday!

 

I don’t like the urban living idea myself; my utopic idea is for most people to live in larger but very well insulated homes, with solar panels and other energy efficient items but also with enough land to grow a little food.

City living is OK for young adults and single ‘Man/woman about town’ types but for me that’s where the attraction ends.

 

It’s great to visit my wife’s village, everyone you pass says hello and people are generally friendlier than people in cities, saying that my wife found it claustrophobic..

 

If you are a tin hat type, you are naturally not going to like cities.

 

I have no problem with that, if you want to live that way,

But do not feel that government will be able to maintain Oil prices (for Transport vehicles)

at anything like the current price

 

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In between car-reliant (cos there is naff-all else) suburbia is the death? - Maybe in the USA but in the UK (where I no longer choose to live) much suburbia is served by a public transport, so most of the time No1 applies; but it is still death IMHO without the Cuban approach as if/when the cheap oil vanishes only No2 can work

 

yes, that UK form of suburbia ("connected suburbia") is more sustainable.

but not without some reliance on oil for transport, and maybe heating

 

the US needs to move towards that model, while it still can, i think

 

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Happy Birthday!

 

I don’t like the urban living idea myself; my utopic idea is for most people to live in larger but very well insulated homes, with solar panels and other energy efficient items but also with enough land to grow a little food.

City living is OK for young adults and single ‘Man/woman about town’ types but for me that’s where the attraction ends.

 

It’s great to visit my wife’s village, everyone you pass says hello and people are generally friendlier than people in cities, saying that my wife found it claustrophobic..

 

If you are a tin hat type, you are naturally not going to like cities.

 

Yep!

 

I am agreed Dr B. that suburbs are bad. Just the word gives me the creeps. And I would rather live in the city than the surburbs, esp like Singapore. But would you not say that if you are really wanting to live a greener life and save the planet's resources etcetera then jetting off around the world uses far more precious resources than running a car for a couple of years? It often seems to me, and this is not a direct attack on you on your birthday and all that, that people who live in these city pads crowing about the greenery, are often enjoying the fruits of some far flung 'natural paradise' to 'get away from it all' for a few days...

 

Fresh air and diggin' the garden over does wonders for the soul. Just IMHO...

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Seriously, you and ppl like you are v v dangerous to TPTB and the Agenda 21 eugenics movement - you have tried to go off the grid - as the years go by TPTB will make it harder and harder for you to live in the sticks, they want the countryside completely depopulated, end goal, and GREEN is the way to do it - soon you will have to get your abode up to the correct green specs and it will cost you a FORTUNE - you will be taxed back into the overcrowded cities.

 

Alan Watt at www.cuttingthroughthematrix.com explains the green agenda...

 

I'll be making it as hard as possible for "our friends" to unseat me from where I am. I have to admit, Agenda 21 is something I've never heard of before.

 

Fortunately I am involved within the energy industry, with plans to go deeper into it, getting my home up to spec will hopefully not be an issue. (I have the ability to create a lot of paper reports) and by the time this comes around carbon credits could possibly be a currency itself (if it's not already), and maybe payment on taxes can be made this way.

 

Who knows how the future will unfold........but for the link, and the heads up on Agenda 21, I thank you.

 

:)

 

 

 

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...I have to admit, Agenda 21 is something I've never heard of before...

As far as sustainability goes, we have 3 choices.

  • We can choose individually to live sustainably
  • We can choose to force ourselves and everyone else to live sustainably
  • We can carry on until reality presents us with no choice but to live sustainably

It doesn't matter whether it's in banking or the environment, anyone who doesn't accept either of the first 2 is forcing a tyranny on future generations and acting fraudulently.

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I'll be making it as hard as possible for "our friends" to unseat me from where I am. I have to admit, Agenda 21 is something I've never heard of before.

 

Fortunately I am involved within the energy industry, with plans to go deeper into it, getting my home up to spec will hopefully not be an issue. (I have the ability to create a lot of paper reports) and by the time this comes around carbon credits could possibly be a currency itself (if it's not already), and maybe payment on taxes can be made this way.

 

Who knows how the future will unfold........but for the link, and the heads up on Agenda 21, I thank you.

 

:)

 

What exactly does this Agenda 21 entail for those living in the countryside?l

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What exactly does this Agenda 21 entail for those living in the countryside?l

 

At the moment, i've no idea. Obviously it seems that CDS see's something that I don't yet,

 

I've read a couple of sections but i'll admit i've not spent a huge amount of time on this just yet.

 

 

Section 28 is about the local authorities

http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_28.shtml

 

Section 32 is about strengthening the role of farmers.

http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_32.shtml

 

CDS was mentioning about how people living in a rural environment will get taxed out. I still have some reservations regarding this.

 

For instance........

 

If the countryside gets depopulated, and everyone starts living in tower blocks within city's, who looks after the cattle to supply the beef, milk, leather?, who grows the crops ? considerable space is currently required to produce these commodities as I'm sure we are all aware.

 

Or are we expecting the farm hands to be commuting to and from the fields from where they have been conveniently "stored away" in their tower blocks within the citys. I appreciate that farming is becoming more mechanised, but its not automated .... well, at least not yet.

 

 

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If we are going to have a better quality of life, and not run through all the world's remaining resources in only 2-3 generations, we will have to live more compact, and less wasteful lives. By dint of lack of space, two Asian city-states, Hong Kong and Singapore seem to have hit upon this formula. Now it is up to the rest of the world to catch on, and catch-up, or see their relative wealth erode, as resources - and enrgy in particular - become more expensive.

 

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times review of Owens' book:

 

Owen, a staff writer for The New Yorker, makes a convincing case that Manhattan, Hong Kong and large, old European cities are inherently greener than less densely populated places because a higher percentage of their inhabitants walk, bike and use mass transit than drive; they share infrastructure and civic services more efficiently; they live in smaller spaces and use less energy to heat their homes (because those homes tend to share walls); and they’re less likely to accumulate a lot of large, energy-sucking appliances. People in cities use about half as much electricity as people who don’t, Owen reports, and the average New Yorker generates fewer greenhouse gases annually than “residents of any other American city, and less than 30 percent of the national average.”

 

And the carbon footprint of the hybrid-driving country dweller with her triple-paned windows, backyard composter and geothermal heat pump? Fuhgeddaboudit, Owen practically shouts: she’s still driving to work, to school, to shops and the post office. He doesn’t care if she’s powered by French fry grease or the juice of photovoltaic panels: “Wasted energy is wasted energy no matter how it’s generated.

 

And the carbon footprint of the hybrid-driving country dweller with her triple-paned windows, backyard composter and geothermal heat pump? Fuhgeddaboudit, Owen practically shouts: she’s still driving to work, to school, to shops and the post office. He doesn’t care if she’s powered by French fry grease or the juice of photovoltaic panels: “Wasted energy is wasted energy no matter how it’s generated.”

 

Even worse than the car itself is the sprawl and the energy-inefficient lifestyle that it enables — the duplication of infrastructure, larger houses with fertilized, irrigated yards, two-hour commutes. Spreading people thinly across the countryside may seem to decrease environmental impact (it certainly looks and smells better), but in fact it substantially increases that impact “while also making the problems . . . harder to see and to address.”

 

“Green Metropolis” challenges many cherished assumptions about easy-on-the-earth country living, though many of its revelations may not be revelatory to hardcore carbon counters, or to anyone who read Owen’s 2004 New Yorker article from which this book sprouted. Still, it contains some surprises (for example: it takes less energy and infrastructure to move people vertically, in counterweighted elevators, than horizontally). ”

 

/more: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/books/review/Royte-t.html

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Not meaning to sound too mad max... Looking at a possible historic parallel, the collapse of the pax romana: cities failed to maintain suitable sanitation and failed to aquire sufficient food. There was massive depopulation in the cities, even though nothing internally had changed, just the collapse of trade & increased taxation (plausible?). It does not take a long period of upheaval to make the life of a city resident difficult and unpleasant.

 

You ask an interesting question - Can cities survive a Long-Emergency-economy, where various countries move Beyond Financial Collapse?

 

I think it depends on politics. If people maintain enough confidence in their government, to go on supporting it, by working for it, and paying taxes, etc. then I think the City can survive. The Roman problem was that the tax base eroded, and so taxes were pushed higher and higher, and people left the city to escape a confiscatory tax regime. At least in the country (on a farm) the government did not find it easy to take a tax bite out of food that was produced and consumed inside the farm. They could only tax "output."

 

When taxes reach a level that people are structuring their economic arrangements to avoid paying taxes, the government is in big trouble.

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You ask an interesting question - Can cities survive a Long-Emergency-economy, where various countries move Beyond Financial Collapse?

 

I think it depends on politics. If people maintain enough confidence in their government, to go on supporting it, by working for it, and paying taxes, etc. then I think the City can survive.

Money is the system we use to organise co-operation. In the event of a curency crisis how do people do these things? I also wonder why sometimes populations pull together in a crisis and sometimes pull apart.

 

The Roman problem was that the tax base eroded, and so taxes were pushed higher and higher, and people left the city to escape a confiscatory tax regime. At least in the country (on a farm) the government did not find it easy to take a tax bite out of food that was produced and consumed inside the farm. They could only tax "output."

Has this occurred en-masse with modern currency crises, I wonder?

 

 

When taxes reach a level that people are structuring their economic arrangements to avoid paying taxes, the government is in big trouble.

Who is John Galt?

 

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