Matt D
Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 1999 6:00 am

Global Warming, And Urban Sprawl

Sun Apr 22, 2001 5:56 am

I'm sure that all of you by now have heard of the global warming issue. We have all been told that it is caused by "grenhouse gasses" (carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, etc.), and that automobiles, airplanes, and any kind of internal combustion engine.

But is that the whole story? One thing I'm surpised that no one has mentioned is: urban sprawl

Living here in Southern California, the time is not far off where literally every last square inch of open land will be developed. As an example, let's look at Orange County.
10 and 15 years ago, much of OC remained an undeveloped wilderness. I recently read an article in the Orange County Register that at current construction rates, there will not be an acre of open land left anywhere in OC by the end of the decade.

How many trees were felled to build those subdivisions? What about grass and shrubbery? How much of that was plowed over and covered with asphalt and concrete? What about old orange groves and cotton fields? All of those plants were producing oxygen.

Figure that in everywhere you see development going on, and I gotta be thinking that we are eventually going to be creating a lot more problems than we will solve. Sure, in the short term, we can house more and more people in a given area, and drive housing costs down. But think of all the added pollution, traffic, and crowding that will bring.
I also see a lot of this going on in the San Joaquin Valley (Central CA). What once were fertile farm lands are giving way to more and more houses and strip malls.

With all of this farmland vanishing, where are we going to grow the food to feed these people?

Oh sure, we can just truck everything in from elsewhere in the country, but is that really a solution? So now instead of hauling a load of lettuce 200 miles, that same truck might now have to drive 2000 miles. How much extra diesel fuel is that truck going to have to burn now? How much more soot and smoke is going to be dispatched to the atmosphere? As if the roads aren't already crowded, they are going to get still further crowded just by bringing in necessities from out of state now.

Do you all see how this is snowballing?

What about the electricity crisis here in CA? You hear a lot of talk about how no new power plants have been built in over a decade. What you DON'T hear is that the number of housing and new developments have nearly doubled the states electricity appetite. Sounds like a no brainer to me.

So what do we do?

Very simple:

Put a 5 or 10 year moratorium on any and all new construction and relocation to the state. No more subdivsions. No more strip malls. No more industrial complexes. Nothing. The state is already overcrowded. It's time to say that we have enough people and close our borders for awhile. Not even anyone from other states can move in. Do you realize that during rush hours, it can take as long as three hours to drive 30 miles on an LA freeway?

Enough is enough.

RE: Global Warming, And Urban Sprawl

Sun Apr 22, 2001 6:22 am


I agree wholeheartedly, Matt D, but that will never happen and we all know it.

Fortunately, I don;t think Maui will be in that situation for a long, long time, and you can still explore large tracts of yourself!!  Wink/being sarcastic

Maybe we should do what China does and put a limit on the number of childrn you can have. Oh, wait, we can't do that, the American Image might be tarnished!!  Wow!

You know, not long ago a group of radicals here wanted independence from America....I am with them.

Aloha 737-200

RE: Global Warming, And Urban Sprawl

Sun Apr 22, 2001 7:32 am

The basic cause for many enviromental problems in the states is the general public. Most americans are enviromentalists until conservation hits them in the wallet. Not many things irritate me as much as seeing somebody on the news throwing a hissy fit about gas being $2.00 a gallon when they're driving around in their suburban/expedition picking up groceries. I'm starting to think some americans would accept sending thier sons/daughters to the middle east in another war if it made gas cheaper.
As far as urban sprawl is concerned, there is no real way to actively stop that outside of making everything a national park.
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RE: Global Warming, And Urban Sprawl

Sun Apr 22, 2001 7:38 am

It's clear that urban sprawl has far reaching consequences, and it certainly has an adverse influence on environmental health. As of now, humans have not experienced particularily severe repercussions as a result of this practice. However, as the amount of agricultural land and animal habitat decreases, our troubles will likely multiply.

The fact remains that we have a rapidly growing population, and the only humane solution is to maintain this rate of growth, and continue to offer dwellings to all. If we cannot achieve this through urban sprawl, what other options do we have?

Some people say the solution is to develop vertically rather than horizontally, in order to save the terrestrial resources. However, we do not as of yet possess the technology to make this feasible on a significant scale. Substantial improvements to exisiting infrastructure would be required in order to reliably deliver power and water, as well as to prevent collasal traffic jams.

Others go one step further and suggest that instead of separate residences, places of work, governmental and recreational facilities, we build cities-within-cities, or super-dense, self-contained metropolises housed within skyscrapers. At the present, "archologies" are far from feasible. We could produce certain goods on site, but the vast majority of resources would have to be shipped in. Also, there are major health risks to living in such close confinement, as well as the risks of pollution and crime. We don't like to be fenced in, and even with all the material pleasures in the world available to residents, it's likely people would start to go bonkers.

Still others propose that we should try and develop our homes in barren areas so that we do not destroy areas rich in flora and fauna and areas containing arable soil. However, you still have to ship all the resources a consumer demands to that area. As of now, it is more viable to build a city in an area rich in natural resources such as San Francisco or Seattle than to choose a wasteland such as the area surrounding Las Vegas. Once again, we presently lack economical and efficient ways of transporting water, power, food and consumer goods over long distances. With increases in technology, it will also become possible to produce such things in more locations. But, we are not there yet.

So, we see that urban sprawl is inevitible for the near future. There is still plenty of usable land in California and other states across the US. We will continue to develop it until we see direct and significant consequences. This is just something that we must accept in a capitalist society. To our minds, the short-term economic costs of placing a localized moritorium on new construction and relocation will override the long-term environmental damage.

About all we can do is to continue to provide wildlife refuges and allow for greenbelts in our city planning. We can also work for more environmentally friendly transportation and construction. But, the cost must be reasonable. Far too often, we clear-cut the areas in which we develop subdivisions without replanting anything more than froufrou plants and shrubs simply because it's cheap. But, it really doesn't cost that much to line the streets with trees like they did prior to the 1950s. If we cannot stop environmental sprawl, we can at least make efforts to lessen it's impact.

Frankly, the bigger issue here is human overpopulation and its influence on the environment. We can reduce our per-capita emission of VOCs and the like, but can it keep pace with the growth rate of our population?? In general, it cannot.

So, we better hope that we continue to develop technology to deal with these problems, because we are doomed to self-destruction otherwise.
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RE: Global Warming, And Urban Sprawl

Sun Apr 22, 2001 8:06 am

Not only that, but people have to control the population - nobody will do it for them. China's law makes total sense.
Money does not bring you happiness. But it's better to cry in your own private limo than on a cold bus stop.
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RE: Global Warming, And Urban Sprawl

Sun Apr 22, 2001 11:30 am

I agree with that, Matt D.
However, I must make another point. While urban sprawl and pollution affect each other, the problem is as much geographic as it is poor urban planning.
The city of Los Angeles lies within the L.A. basin and San Fernando Valley. The winds don't do enough to move the pollution out of the area and it stacks up when it hits the mountains. The same is true for places like the San Joaquin Valley of CA. and the Mexico City region.
As I see it, population isn't the issue. The real issue is an inefficient use of space and resources. Look at Japan, for example. They have a very large population and an excellent public transit system in a small area.
Their pollution levels are relatively good given the circumstances, but it could be worse if they were to follow suit with the United States and drive their cars like there was no tomorrow.
Get your patchouli stink outta my store!

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