Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week Nine Post

The place that I chose to analyze in terms of sustainability was my hometown of Barrington, Illinois. I spent my entire pre college life being raised in Barrington and have had the ability to form a fairly accurate assessment on the level of the towns sustainability and environmental impact. For starters, Barrington is a Chicago suburb, so it is built to follow the trend of urban sprawl. The main town has an extremely spread layout, with little emphasis on urban, residential, or employment centers. The downtown region of the town, which contains most of the local businesses and restaurants, is only reachable by foot or bike by a very small percentage of the population. Extremely busy roads, lack of bike lanes, and large distance length inhibit the ability of those living in most residential neighborhoods to reach places of business by means other than a motorized vehicle. Furthermore, no public transportation is offered throughout the town, due to the expectancy of the town being a motorized vehicle based place of residence. The only acceptable form of public transportation offered is the train line service that runs from the Barrington station through the Northwest suburbs to Chicago. Almost all residence of Barrington are a nuclear family, with a single parent that travels to work each morning, a job most likely located in the city of Chicago. A massive percentage of the town travels each morning about an hour by car to Chicago, contributing to the massive miles travelled footprint of motorized vehicles. The population is offset very slightly by the offer of the train service, which is the lone provider of sustainable transportation. However, if not located within a close couple mile radius of the train station, which most Barrington residence are not, lack of inter-town public transportation forces residence to inevitably still have to drive to and from the train station. There is a slight feeling of an urban center surrounding the location of a few local restaurants and other businesses that residence could find appealing to walk or visit in their downtime, such as local clothing shops. However, these businesses are built into large, one story properties that expand out instead of up and make for an inefficient layout. The small urban center is relatively unreachable to most of the population due to the expansion of most of the town of Barrington. Much of the residential areas are connected to the urban center by busy roads that are conducive to only motorized vehicle transportation and would be fairly dangerous if attempted to travel by any way other than a car. Lack of bike lanes and walking paths reflects the assumption of Barrington zoning that the town would be based on the use of motorized vehicles. Massive properties and residential areas contribute to the massive spread of the town and it's inaccessibility by much of the population, with huge areas of land being held as undeveloped yards and residential luxury. Barrington in 50 years could have some serious problem's if regulations were put in place in order to limit vehicle miles travelled. For starters, much of the large undeveloped property and lawns owned by households will have to be purchased by the county as an attempt to connect the areas of the town in a more environmentally friendly way of transportation, such as direct bike and walk paths. Bus routes could potentially be installed running to and from places of interest to help lessen the motorized vehicle footprint. However, a more fitting solution based on the size of the downtown area of Barrington could be to expand local structures and buildings by adding stories and potential for urban expansion. More opportunities for local businesses could be created, which would eliminate the need for citizens to travel larger distances by car in order to meet needs that are only offered in businesses elsewhere. However, the truth of the matter also remains that Barrington inhabitants are exceedingly wealthy and may see no need to halt their huge consumption patterns. Many families in Barrington have more than enough capital to continue to fund use of resources at an unsustainable rate, regardless of skyrocketing price. Residence will be extremely reluctant to abandon the excessive habit of housing size and use of land that has formed over the last few decades, and without government intervention, may refuse to embrace change for the better of the entire environment.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 7 Post

The tragedy of the commons basically states that an unregulated resource that gives all an equal opportunity to access it will eventually be consumed to the point of non existence by a constant mounting consumption. It seems much more difficult to find modern day examples of consumption patterns that fit the tragedy of the commons due to highly regulated and privatized resource distribution that eliminate the possibility for unlimited consumption of certain goods. However, emerging China is experiencing a tragedy of the commons occurrence in it's booming economic expansion and population growth. China is seeming an emerging movement of it's citizens towards a middle class capable of accessing and consuming an increasing amount of water. Furthermore, as China's population continually grows, urbanization and population density expands as well. The need for plumbing and flowing water to residence and urban centers is in constant flux with the use of toilets, sinks, drinking water, and other commercial needs are required to be addressed. Agriculture production also faces a constant pull from consumers to provide more for a growing economy, which requires an exponential amount of water use. To meet this demand, China industry rapidly increased irrigation and pipelines in a relatively unplanned and inefficient way. Never having to address water shortages before, the abundance of water that China seemed to comfortably have intact was continually tapped to feed this swelling population. Economic and monetary increase for the growing middle class also gave Chinese citizens that ability to spend more on water and cut out the requirement to budget their water consumption.

Chinese citizens all had access to some degree to water consumption, and, given the increased ability to access it, increased their consumption accordingly. The issue of a water scarcity was an unforeseen consequence of this consumption growth that was fairly inevitable following the law of the tragedy of the commons, due to the upward sloping availability of water to the commons of China.

Since this issue is an emerging concern, and not yet a full blown crisis, there has not been an extent of ideas to combat a water shortage that have been unsuccessful. However, Chinese government is attempting to address this issue through technological advancements such as making a more efficient crop seed that can better retain drops of water, cutting the amount of water necessary to produce a sufficient amount of Chinese agricultural goods. Additional infrastructure such as dams and canals are also being proposed in order to curb wasted water and redirect water flow to restore disappearing streams and rivers.

However, a concern should still remain for the Chinese government if the countries population continues to expand. How much water consumption can technological development supplement if population continually skyrockets? Being a proponent of ecological development, I believe the most effective way to address a growing water shortage is to place restrictions on the amount of water consumption, industrially but primarily commercially, possible for Chinese residents. It's inevitable that as freedom and flexibility to access goods increases, the use of these goods will move beyond necessity and resources will be wasted. Placing fines or regulations on the amount on the massive Chinese population could aid the technological development of the Chinese government in more effectively using water resources.