Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Cities

Comments

How do U.K. cities stack up in terms of sustainability?

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. Every year more and more people live in cities. Globally, we became a majority urban world for the first time last year, while here in the U.K., nine out of 10 of us live in towns and cities. Cities are clearly important for sustainability. Although the romantic green notion of us all living on small holdings with a goat, a vineyard, and a vegetable patch is seductive, the future is much more likely to be dominated by megacities …

Read more: Cities, Living

Comments

Cyclists should be more involved as biking advocates

This essay is part of a series on bicycle neglect. ----- Blame me. It's my fault the Northwest does not treat bicycling with respect. How? Bear with me, and I'll explain. Cascadia is, as Washington state legislator Dick Nelson used to say, a "motorhead democracy" -- a place where licensed drivers substantially outnumber registered voters and where car-head dominates transportation thought and debate. No matter how much good Bicycle Respect would do for our health, communities, economy, and natural heritage, it won't fly in on fairy wings. Bicycle Respect is a political agenda: new traffic laws and enforcement, new budget …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Metro is succeeding, but like all public transit systems, it needs our support

It was a bad headline and a bad take on an important issue from a writer at a publication that ought to know better. Last week, M.J. Rosenberg, writing at TPM Cafe, penned a quick post entitled "Question for Paul Krugman: Why Does the DC Metro Suck?" In the space of a few short words, Rosenberg revealed that arguments in favor of increased public transit shouldn't just be directed at environmentally negligent conservatives. There is a lot of work to be done winning over writers, voters, and leaders on the left as well. The source of Rosenberg's anger was a …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Giving up car-lessness for Rob Lowe’s plug-in hybrid

This essay is part of a series on not owning a car. ----- The weekend before Halloween, my car-less family got a loaner plug-in hybrid-electric car to try. You see, the City of Seattle and some other local public agencies are testing the conversion of some existing hybrids to plug-ins to accelerate the spread of these near-zero-emissions vehicles. As a favor and, perhaps, for some publicity (this post), the city's program manager offered me four days' use of the prototype -- previously driven by actor Rob Lowe. Enthusiasm about plug-in hybrids -- like their now-almost-mainstream siblings the gas-electric hybrids -- …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

Comments

Thousands of monkeys uprooted by sprawl move into New Delhi

Last month, the deputy mayor of New Delhi fell from a terrace to his death while trying to fend off a gang of wild monkeys. This weekend, rampaging monkeys attacked up to 25 people in the Indian capital. While the scenes are tragic, it would be a stretch to call them unexpected: In the center of New Delhi, monkeys scamper through buildings, bathe in fountains, and frolic in parks and on groomed lawns. "They attack patients who are being rolled inside the hospital, pull out IV tubes, and scamper off to drink the fluids," says lawyer Meera Bhatia. Half a …

Read more: Cities

Comments

New tool helps groups assess large retail proposals

Big-box stores have significant impacts on a community's economy, environment, and character. The Big Box Evaluator (created by the Orton Family Foundation, which offers numerous programs that aid good land-use planning) is a new online tool designed to help citizens, activists, and municipal officials get the basics on these impacts in an unbiased manner. It's interactive, and lets you plug in variables like tax rates, community demographics, size of a hypothetical big-box proposal, and much more. The outcome is a well-rounded assessment of probable impacts, the good as well as the bad, which will help its users ask important questions …

Comments

Public transit will be necessary for CO2 reductions

At the end of October, both New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and, believe it or not, Mississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott, passed their cosponsored bill in the Senate to allocate $1.9 billion per year for six years to expand passenger rail in the U.S. According to Parade magazine (yes, the one that's inserted into Sunday newspapers), the main goal is "to develop high-speed, short-haul rail corridors modeled on the European city-to-city routes. They could run between Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C.; Portland and Seattle; Chicago and Detroit; Miami and Jacksonville, Fla." In addition, the Senate wants to give Amtrak …

Comments

Portland, Ore., will pay builders to build green

Portland, Ore., has unveiled an innovative plan to slash greenhouse-gas emissions. The city will require an energy-efficiency inspection of new homes, then levy a tax on builders who have merely complied with Oregon's efficiency requirements. Builders who construct homes 30 percent more efficient than the state building code requires will escape the fee; those who go above and beyond, with construction that saves at least 45 percent more energy, will be paid cash rewards. Portlanders will vote on the plan in January. Hint: vote yes!

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

Comments

Some signs of another mitigation alternative emerging

There has certainly been a great deal of discussion of carbon taxes and various cap-and-trade and cap-and-auction frameworks among environmentalists. Recently, Nordhaus and Shellenberger used the term "public investment" as another mitigation strategy, a term which seems to refer mostly to research and development. However, another alternative is direct governmental construction of the various means of transforming economies toward sustainability -- what might be called public reconstruction. I thought I'd share three quotes from well-known writers that seem to be moving in this direction. First, Richard Heinberg recently wrote about the problems of trying to solve both global warming and …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

Comments

California ‘cool cities’ are taking the lead on climate change

Now in her seventh term, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) represents California's 36th Congressional District. Jane Harman. Even sunny skies and pleasant ocean breezes over much of our state can't mask the fact that Californians breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation. California is the world's 12th largest source of carbon dioxide, the chief heat-trapping gas that causes global warming. As dirty as our air is, we are taking the lead nationally in trying to make the air cleaner and our actions greener. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law ambitious legislation establishing the goal of reducing …