Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 6 Assignment

The idea that really interested me in terms of changes that can lead to a more successful and sustainable future environmentally is the idea of growing as an urban community in a more compact and a cooler layout by changing the way we design and place our cities. The whole concept of growing more compact is that regardless of what technological changes we make in order to make gasoline burn with less CO2, or to make cars burn fuel for efficiently, the goal of CO2 emissions that we must reach as a society in order to provide ourselves with a sustainable environment will still be unattainable. The only way that we can hope to reach this number, while still developing at a similar rate that humanity currently is, is to completely change the way our cities and living communities are laid out by increasing the amount of attached housing, building multi functioning urban centers, and by creating alternative transportation routes and paths. The benefits estimated to be realized by cities who move towards this design are two fold, as average daily CO2 emission for these communities is estimated to drop by at least a third, while obesity rates and the overall amount of driving as transportation will be slashed, as walking and biking become possible and more convenient forms of transportation.

In terms of Thomas Orr's article describing the difference between technological and ecological proposals striving to reach environmental sustainability, the idea of a more compact structural and living layout for humanity would definitely have to lean towards the side of ecological advancement. While mild technological changes would probably be made in order to more efficiently build housing and urban complexes, the act of consciously funding and allocating our resources towards and urban landscape that is more accessible by foot and places urban centers in more compact and diverse settings is would be a change in lifestyle for most Americans. Humans would have to make conscious changes in their lifestyle and work with our environmental limitations in order to continue advancing as humanity but ensuring that we have a life supporting system. Since America has been built with the assumption that most humans will rely on personal cars as the main form of transportation, humans have become accustomed to driving any time they have an errand to run or a place to be, primarily because these places have been designed to only be reached by motor vehicle. Convincing people, mostly in suburban environments, to almost abandon a motor vehicle unless absolutely essential would be a huge shift in lifestyle for a society that has spent over half a decade enjoying and never thinking twice about the convenience and speed offered by a personal motor vehicle. This doesn't even began to describe the unwillingness that people would have to move from driving as opposed to walking or biking strictly due to personal laziness. Additionally, the recreational luxury of huge houses on massive and unnecessary properties would have to be largely disregarded. Condominiums and townhouses centering around community and urban centers with multiple businesses would become the most common form of housing units, and detached houses would have to be seriously downscaled in order to increase density of residency. The changes that would have to be made in order for the country to achieve a more density rich society would have to be understood and accepted with open arms by a huge majority of American citizens.

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