We Need a Complete Solution to Climate Change

This morning, Jeff Wood at The Overhead Wire points us to a newly released measure of CO2 emissions from the Center for Neighborhood Technology (which just won a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, BTW). He says maps like these help to show why the need to change land-use patterns is vital for reducing greenhouse gases:

Picture_1.pngCNT has released another Affordability Index update
that shows transportation emissions is 70% less in cities than in the
suburbs. Why is this? Because people don’t have to drive as much. You
can see already the benefits, and it isn’t all about electric cars. Yet
some in Southern California think that SB375, the landmark climate
change bill, can be addressed with electric cars alone. Sorry guys. It doesn’t work like that.…

But it’s not just transportation, it’s building as well. We need to look at this as a complete system.
This singular focus on one method is somewhat maddening. I know there
are a lot of people who are hoping for a magic green car or a magic
green building but we’re also forgetting our water usage and population
growth among other things.

The CNT site has some very cool maps that compare not only CO2 emissions from household auto use per acre and per household, but also the cost of housing and transportation as a percentage of average household income in many regions across the country.

As
The Overhead Wire points out, maps like these point out the importance
of development patterns in limiting emissions, and the reality that
only a holistic solution will make a dent. Zero-emissions vehicles
aren’t going to solve the nation’s carbon bloat any more than a diet
pill can provide a long-term solution for an obese individual.

Other fun stuff from around the network: Brooklyn by Bike protests the girlification of women’s bikes (stop the flowers!); Cyclelicious has the news that French prisoners get to participate in their own Tour de France; and World Streets has data that suggests that swine flu killed more people with traffic fatalities in Mexico City than with germs.

  • It is odd that CNT calculates emissions per household, since there are probably smaller households in the center of the city than in the suburbs.

    It would be more convincing if they calculated emissions per capita, and I am sure they would come up with similar conclusions, since it is very obvious that people in denser areas drive less.

    On the other hand, there might be a different conclusion about housing costs. They say that housing costs per household are lower in the city, but housing costs per capita may be lower in the suburbs. For all we know from this report, households in cities may have only half as many people as households in the suburbs. Again, it is too bad that they muddied he water by calculating costs per household rather than per capita.

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