Wednesday, September 14, 2016

1980 - 2010, Low-Density Continues to Dominate the American Landscape

If you're like me...

you see that suburban America comes with a giant pile of problems we haven't even begun to really quantify, fully understand, or even remotely pay the cost of yet. And it is frustrating we really haven't shifted the growth model much in response to this growing call to action (well, at least those in the industry hear the call, I don't know about the general house hunter).

Suburban problems...What am I talking about? Here's a short list:

  • Air + water pollution from additional reliance on single-occupancy automotive transportation and the massive amounts of carbon fuel used to power the 1.2 billion cars (and growing) on the road
  • Expensive infrastructure that hasn't paid for its own growth + maintenance in the long-run
  • Suburbia is a tax burden to the urban economic engines of the country
  • Uses more energy, water, resources that, unless technology can save us, is not consumed at rates of sustainable yield
  • Suburban poverty is more difficult to manage and connect people to the social services they desperately need
  • Health impacts adding inches to our waists and numerous other disease-associated factors
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of natural habitats and ecosystem services
  • Loss of fertile farmland

A better alternative?

Urban environments are not without their own challenges of negative inflictions on our personal and ecological health, but they are measurably more sustainable from either a financial, environmental, and /or social perspective. Should they be forced upon everyone? No (and do yourself a favor and not listen to crazy talk that the Government is going to make you in accordance to the UN's Agenda 21).

And then there are those who do low-density responsibly. There are those who have a low-impact lifestyle in the countryside who garden, live locally, and make the most of their land in an ecologically responsible way. Bravo to them.

Most of us need a reality check. 

We at least owe it to the future generation to have a healthy, collaborative, sustainable lifestyle alternative to the human environment we seem to keep mass-producing for decades. The attached image demonstrates just how large of a tide we're up against. Even if you don't want to give up this suburban lifestyle (which is likely the only lifestyle you've ever really known), you owe it to your city to become a supporter of your downtown to grow into a densified, attractive, car-optional, pedestrian-oriented, bike-embracing, sufficient-minded, creative, compact, healthy, connected, energy- and water-efficient, tax-surplus oasis with a promising future.

Entry inspired by: Richard Florida's article in CityLab (9/14/16)...
The Difficulties of Density