Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And following up on Christian Schwägerl's article, the suburbs are a large problem ecologically speaking

American fossil fuel consumption is goaded on by the expansion out from the cities into areas that were previously country that happened in the post-war era that created the system of suburbs that we have today. Often times, there were either only small towns or no towns at all in the places where the suburbs were located, meaning that they were largely the creation of developers and business interests who moved in and took over. As a result, suburbs are a nightmare when it comes to land use and general efficiency, with many if not most of them making no sense from either a human standpoint or a resource standpoint. Many look like they were designed on the back of a postage stamp, with businesses randomly put next to neighborhoods, that are randomly put next to industrial districts, that are all connected by systems of streets that make no sense and are hard to navigate, to say nothing of the impossibility of walking any place to get what you need. The construction of the suburbs, often accompanied by deforestation and the destruction of wetlands, has created a situation where cars are needed to get even the basics of life, neighborhoods often isolated from grocery stores by quite a distance and public transportation being for the most part non-existent. The construction of tract houses themselves as opposed to more efficient apartment buildings, thought to give everybody a piece of the good life through owning something a modest house with a tiny yard, duplicate capacity in resource use to the point where energy efficiency in residential areas is a nice dream. The same could be said of the proliferation of strip malls, rows of small businesses next to each other in one story tracts, each with their own parking lots, only accessible by car, randomly located throughout suburbs, not confined to any one business district. The dream of owning a small business is what I guess the strip mall was an ode to, but like single family dwellings, single story buildings containing businesses, and with strips of four or five isolated from each other, are a nightmare when energy use enters the picture. The irony is that while small businesses in strip malls proliferate, so do mega stores that go to the other extreme, corporate goliaths that provided just as alienated and disconnected an experience as the strip malls and lack of planning, but have large big business regulated stocks of supplies on offer.

Suburbs aren't pleasant places to live in, providing an alienated and disconnected existence that is nevertheless the product of free market fantasies put into action. The small capitalist's paradise, the suburbs are prime examples of why we need to get beyond a traditional market economy and into something with more planning and decision making done by society as a whole.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, just wring your hands. Articles like this always lead to someone telling someone else what to do. Right - that's what we need more people pushing other people around. How do you square this with fundamental ideas about liberty? The answer is you don't which is why these ideas always lead to some baboon putting himself (always been a "he", let's face it) in charge of us other baboons, and executing or otherwise punishing those who don't play along. So, please stop telling other people what they should do as if there is some objective standard out there which is the "right" thing to do and only you know what it is. Either that or go find some other country to criticize. Or better yet grow up, by discovering some real wisdom, get a job, have children, run a business, for chrisssake, but STOP TELLING OTHER PEOPLE HOW TO RUN THEIR LIVES!

John Madziarczyk said...

Yeah, go fuck yourself asshole.