Environment

Dense Downtown vs. Suburban Dispersed: A Pilot Study on Urban Sustainability

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The fashion among urban planners for “compact city” planning and intensification, emphasized as a substitute for “harmful” sprawl onto greenfields, has been supported by a substantial volume of advocacy and academic work. But as the authors of a new study, “Dense Downtown vs. Suburban Dispersed: A Pilot Study on Urban Sustainability” say in their abstract, most such work has been “…based on very large data sets of generalized data regarding whole-city energy consumption, or large-scale transport patterns, which often misses important nuances…”  read more »

Orange County’s Low Hanging Fruit

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There are things that we can do as a society to work through our big structural difficulties at an institutional level. And there are other things that can be done independently at the household level by individuals. I don’t have the technical skills, political skills, social skills, credentials, patience, or desire to engage the large scale systems. To be honest, I don’t think most people do. But there are all sorts of things that ordinary people can and should do on their own that can make a huge difference on the ground at room temperature.  read more »

What Happens After Half Your Town Burns Down?

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Last month I wrote about how insurance companies are getting ahead of the curve by preemptively dropping coverage and/or significantly raising the cost of policies for properties believed to be at increased risk. Less than four weeks later forest fires ripped through Sonoma and Napa counties and destroyed 7,000 structures – most of them single family homes. These fires are now ranked as the most destructive and expensive in California history.  read more »

Protecting Cities in Fire-Prone Regions

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If you live in a fire-prone area, which includes most of California, it is not a good idea to allow ivy and other plants to cover the sides of your building, as this winery and this church did near Santa Rosa. Both were lost to last week’s wildfires.  read more »

Oh, for those good days without fossil fuels!

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Maybe it’s time to start scaling back on our leisurely lifestyle to lower our greenhouse gas emissions and start reverting back to the pre-1900 horse and buggy days for our transportation systems, and the “snake oil” pitchmen for our healthcare system, and no medications, no cosmetics, no fertilizers, no computers nor IPhones, and shorter life spans.  read more »

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A Layman's Guide To Houston After Harvey: Don't Throw The Opportunity Baby Out With The Stormwater

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and the disastrous flooding, Houston has come under extreme scrutiny. Some in the global, national as well as local media assaulted the area's flood control system and its development model, criticisms that were echoed by some in the local area.

Much of the current debate starts from a firm misunderstanding of the region’s realities. This could lead to policies that ultimately undermine the keys that have propelled the region’s success. Below is a primer to inform future discussions of Houston’s future trajectory.

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How To Deal With An Age of Disasters

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When Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, followed by a strong hurricane in Florida, much of the media response indicated that the severe weather was a sign of catastrophic climate change, payback for mass suburbanization — and even a backlash by Mother Nature against the election of President Donald Trump.  read more »

What's the Future of Beleaguered Fossil Fuels Industry?

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Perhaps no economic issue — even trade — is as divisive as the energy industry. Once a standard driver of economic progress, the conventional energy industry has become increasingly vilified by the national media, sued by blue state attorneys general and denounced throughout academia. Some suggest that the industry should be demonized and hounded much as occurred in the case of tobacco.  read more »

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Why the Greens Lost, and Trump Won

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When President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, embraced coal, and stacked his administration from people from fossil-fuel producing states, the environmental movement reacted with near-apocalyptic fear and fury. They would have been better off beginning to understand precisely why the country has become so indifferent to their cause, as evidenced by the victory not only of Trump but of unsympathetic Republicans at every level of government.  read more »

High-Flying California Charts Its Own Path -- Is A Cliff Ahead?

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As its economy bounced back from the Great Recession, California emerged as a progressive role model, with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman arguing that the state’s “success” was proof of the superiority of a high tax, high regulation economy.  read more »