Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A reflection on cities of the future

Excerpts from artcile published on 28 Sep 2006 by Energy Bulletin.
by James Howard Kunstler

"....As the industrial age gained traction in the early 19th century, so did the demographic trend of people increasingly moving from the farms and villages to the big cities. Industrial production was centralized in the cities and recruited armies of workers insatiably. Meanwhile, mechanized farming required fewer farmers to feed more people. The railroad, by its nature, favored centralization. By 1900, cities such as London and New York had evolved into mega-urbanisms of multiple millions of people. Around the same time, electrification was generally complete and with it came skyscrapers serviced by elevators. Over the next twenty years, oil moved ahead of coal as the primary fuel for transport and, especially in the US where oil was cheap and abundant, led to mass automobile ownership. That, in turn, sparked the decanting of households into massive new suburban hinterlands, and to the extreme separation of activities by zoning law there, which climaxed – with interruptions for depression and war – in the evolution of the late 20th century car-dependent metroplexes like Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, and Atlanta. That is where things stand now."

"...So, on top of the sheer distortions and perversities of the glut in bad mortgage paper, America will be faced with the accelerating worthlessness of the collateral – the houses, Jiffy Lubes, and office parks –
as gasoline prices go up, and long commutes become untenable, and jobs along with incomes are lost, and the cost of heating houses larger than 1500 square feet becomes an insuperable burden."

Read the whole article

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