"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Car Free

Quick note to call attention to this article in the New York Times: Car-Free In America?

Interesting comment by Witold Rybyczynski: 
There are only six American downtown districts that are dense enough to support mass transit, which you need if you’re going to be carless: New York City (Midtown and Downtown), Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco. 
Interesting that those are the exact cities (minus Philadelphia, plus Montreal and Toronto) that formed my idea of what a city is. All mass transit towns. Everything else still seems exceptional and sub-urban in the sense where "sub" means "worse than".

And there's a featured reader comment:
That one just fascinates me. Is "impossible" too strong?


David B. Benson said...

Yes, "i8mpossible" is too strong.


Marion Delgado said...

Michael you don't need me to say this, but that "dense enough to support" comment is including as natural any number of hidden subsidies to the car industry (not just the US car industry, all the car-and-truck-makers, with any subsidies in the US for US cars, Japan for Japanese, Europe for European, etc. being simply icing on the cake), and probably writing off all benefits to a city from mass transit except fares.

I have to cry foul. It'd be hard for any city to be carless - changing all those habits, all that infrastructure -- but it's not a density issue for most large cities - they don't have to be megacities.

Bunty said...

Not too strong at all.

After all, it's a well known fact that before the invention of the automobile everyone lived in densely populated cities (or if you go back far enough: city caves).

It's only recently, After Auto (AA), that smaller units of human conglomeration such as 'towns', 'villages', and 'remote hill-sheep crofts' have come into existence.

It's generally believed that this is due to anthropomorphic resonance. If a human being doesn't have a sufficient density of other humans surrounding them, then there is a high probability that they will cease to resonate, and hence evaporate. The interior of a car acts to amplify a persons innate internal resonant frequency, alleviating the need for reinforcement from The Crowd.

Dano said...

Well, I think about these sorts of things for a living, of sorts. And I'll say that one place where I used to do this sort of thing has reversed and is regressing back to antediluvian times.

And until there is some sort of society-wide change (e.g. Peak Oil and gas at $US10-12/gal), nothing will change. Not impossible, but we need something big to change. Then all will change here and look out below.



(Word Verification says 'rotor', so my interpretation is 'fan', as in 'feces striking'.

climatesight said...

Have you ever been to Ottawa? They have fantastic public transit. Probably that's because where all the politicians live, so they're sheltered from how much public transit sucks in the rest of Canada.