Oh. I thought you would have picked up on that, when I mentioned the guy living on an acre with a solar panel.
The bottom line is each individual’s carbon footprint, if that’s still a term in vogue. If I live in the suburbs in a McMansion with 3000 sq feet and a 20 foot atrium (very energy inefficient) and single pane windows, and drive an hour to work every day in an individual fossil fuel vehicle, then my environmental impact is pretty damn high.
You imply that the only way to solve that is to huddle together in high density (ugh) energy efficient housing close to where you work so you can walk or take mass transit (ugh).
I contend that that;s a false choice because it assumes as constants several things which are actually variables. To wit:
- My house in the suburbs does not have to be a McMansion. If my city building codes require energy efficient design, then the cost of construction goes UP, and the size of the house people can afford goes DOWN. The smaller the home, the smaller the environmental impact, and people can still have their nice backyards for kids to play in. Address this through environmental activism, not to force urban living, but to force environmentally friendly building codes.
- As a continuation of (2), people are becoming more and more interested in miniature houses of 1500 sq ft or even far less. The problem? Deed restrictions that mandate minimum housing sizes. Again, smaller home, smaller environmental impact. Again, address through activism to change these outmoded deed restrictions. Care about the curb appeal of the property, not how large it is.
- You assume, it appears, a traditional grid hookup for power. I contend, AGAIN, that eventually, technology will lower the price of alternative energy generation through solar, such that it will become a no-brainer that people will want rooftop panels to take them partially or totally off-grid. Again, deed restrictions have to be altered to keep the NIMBYs from preventing it from happening,
- The idea of self-driving cars contributing to sprawl scared you, it appears, but that’s not a fait accompli. Instead of self-driving cars doing a full 60 minute commute, how about self-driving cars doing a 10 minute commute to the suburban transit center where you pick up mass transit? Cost, again, is a motivator here. Personally owned vehicles are not cheap.
- But,more to the point, why are we commuting at all? This entire bid process by Amazon to find their “2nd Headquarters”, for example, should have everyone scratching their heads. Why is a company that is so adept at using its technology platform to change the retail landscape emulating a 1960’s corporate HQ model? I personally haven’t “gone in to an office” for eighteen years. Why are people still doing that?
So, here’s the point. Exurban/suburban living does not HAVE to be the energy pig that it is today. There are gradations between what it means TODAY, environmentally speaking, and living in high density urban accomodations. If I am living in the ‘burbs in a 1000 sq ft house with solar panels on the roof that provide most (if not all) of my energy needs, I buzz around in an electrical vehicle charged from my own panels, and I telecommute instead of going into an office, how much more of an energy pig am I than somebody living in an urban anthill?
I would contend the answer to that question is “not much”. Let’s not let the perfect become the enemy of the practical.