COMMENTS ON GREEN METROPOLIS

The “READ IT NOW” post is long so here is a place to comment on David Owen’s book Green Metropolis: Why living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability.

It would be most constructive if comments here were focused on what you learned from actually reading the book.

EMR


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10 responses to “COMMENTS ON GREEN METROPOLIS”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    You assume there is something to be learned from this claptrap.

    RH

  2. What I get most out of these things from EMR and apparently from his current favorite author is substantially unsubstantiated assertions – a litany of statements about what is and is not sustainable virtually without foundation or supporting evidence.

    I mean …by definition – an urban agglomeration that has existed for several hundred years as many such places on this earth have existed would tend to convince me that if those places are not sustainable, they are sure taking their sweet time on getting on towards fundamental collapse…

  3. I have read the first 10% of Green Metropolis. So far, it is focused on how environmentally clean New Your City is compared to everywhere else. Of course the author, who used to live in New York City, has moved to a small town in Connecticut which is considerably less eco-friendly.

    It's early in my read but the author makes no effort to measure the support area of NYC. The food, products, water, pharmaceuticals, etc used by New Yorkers but made outside of New York are not (thus far) considered.

    One happy thought … population density = environmentalism. Fairfax County with a population density of 2,571 per sq mi is considerably more densely populated than Spotsylvania County (295 people per sq mi, more densly populated that the city of Fredricksburg (at 1,333), the County of Henrico (1,101), Warrenton (1,574), Faquier (85) or Chesterfield (737).

    It is good to know that my fellow Fairfax County residents and I live in a Green Metropolis while you RoVA people are eco-terrorists.

  4. E M Risse Avatar

    Groveton:

    Good point on first chapter.

    Could be a fifth Fatal Flaw.

    Keep reading he does get to that point later, also to the issue of eco footprint of New York City OUTSIDE the Clear Edge.

    Also, you are correct about his moving to Northwest Conn. and that compounds the fourth Tragic Flaw.

    EMR

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    What is most amusing to me in this string and in the Read It Now string is that E M Risse’s core point is that discussion of human settlement patterns is meaningless without an agreed to vocabulary and a comprehensive conceptual framework.

    His detractors continue to use what he calls Core Confusing Words in an attempt to refute his positions. They know if they agree on vocabulary and framework, he is right.

    Also, let us not talk about E M Risse's choice of reading, Larry G.

    I recall you touting a study by VDOT. You noted some of the things you learned and suggested Risse should read it.

    I learned all that (yes, I wasted my time reading the report you suggested) when I took a land use control class from Risse in a law school class at GMU in the 80s.

    He understood that material before he started developing the New Urban Region Conceptual Framework or the Regional Metrics.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Anon 12:26 –
    Your comments amuse me. "They know if they agree on vocabulary and framework, he is right." That sentence should read – if they agree on HIS vocabulary and HIS framework, he is right. Which is not hard to do. I'll hold a discussion/agument with you but I'll set all the ground rules. I'll tell you what certain words mean (not the meaning you are use to), I'll tell you what phrases you can and can not use. I'll frame the entire discussion/argument so that it will go the way I want it to go no matter what.

    Sorry, despite EMR's attempts, his language is not the language of the typical citizen. Attempts to re-define, re-focus the discussion don't appear to be overly successful; but that continues to be the tactic that EMR prefers to use. While I agree some commonly used terms can be/are confusing, I also don't think a meaningful discussion can occur if the common man has to change his language and the framework from which his concepts and experience comes from just to hold the discussion. It's too much like setting up all conditions to ensure the outcome (much like what it appears the 'scientists' who champion global warming have appeared to do).

    Accurate

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I for one am grateful for EMR's commentary. I've been following Bacon's Rebellion for about 2 years, and have learned plenty, finding that it squares with my experience living in New York City in urbanized Virginia, and now in the car-dependent Deep South. If one can't believe or accept there might be limits to growth, or the chance we might run out of cheap oil, then yes, Owen's book is claptrap.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    "If one can't believe or accept there might be limits to growth, or the chance we might run out of cheap oil, then yes, Owen's book is claptrap."

    I believe that there ARE limits to growth, and that is why arguments to put more of it in fewer places are claptrap.

    That is why Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and other asian cities are deliberately planning satellite cities.

    I also believe that cities get their resources somewhere and deliver their wastes somewhere. They use marginally less energy in transportation, but a lot more energy in other things. They are alos the location where a lot of poor people live, so it isn't surprising that per capita energy use is lower. taken all those things to gether, I submit that the idea that ciies are somehow environmentally friendly or green falls in the general category of unproven claptrap.

    Lets assume that you could make the cities attractive enough for the wealthy to forsake their horse farm estates, and the less wealthy to forsake their imposing suburban homes. Do you think those people will have the same energy consumption as their poverty line urban neighbors?

    Can we do better with our cities? Sure. Are they the next green revolution? Hardly.

    RH

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    "…I took a land use control class from Risse in a law school class at GMU in the 80s."

    I'm really sorry to hear that. Just what we need is more laws for land use control.

    Control.

    That is your word, not mine. We don't need more laws for that: if you want to control something, then go buy it. If the county wants to control land, all they have to do is buy it.

    The problem with that is that conservationists might have to pay for what they want, and they might have to actaully consider market value.

    I'm all in favor of land use management, as long as it is truley economical and equtitable.

    Economical, equitable, and ethical seem to be core confusing words for EMR.

    RH

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    In response to RH's ornery remarks:

    "I also believe that cities get their resources somewhere and deliver their wastes somewhere."

    That is true, and the point clearly addressed in the book — Both per capita waste and a per capita resource usage (land, energy, and raw materials) are significantly LOWER for in dense city environments than in low-density suburbs.

    "They use marginally less energy in transportation, but a lot more energy in other things."

    To support your bald claim, can you please give an example of an activity in which city dwellers use more energy on a per capita basis? Transportation, heating, and maintaining living and working space are all obviously out…

    "They are alos the location where a lot of poor people live, so it isn't surprising that per capita energy use is lower."

    Actually, they are also the location that a lot of rich people live. Go look up the 100 richest zip codes in the United States and see how many of them are within New York City. And there are plenty of poor outside city centers in old suburbs and rural areas. The point is that both rich and poor people in the city use less resources per capita because there is less need for wasteful transport, less wasteful land use, etc, etc.

    "taken all those things to gether, I submit that the idea that ciies are somehow environmentally friendly or green falls in the general category of unproven claptrap."

    Looks like it is your claims that are the unproven claptrap, now doesn't it?

    JG

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