Environment

The Rise of the Great Plains: Regional Opportunity in the 21st Century

RisefrontCover.jpg

This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin; Delore Zimmerman, Mark Schill, and Matthew Leiphon of Praxis Strategy Group; and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.

For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.  read more »

A Geographer Who Navigated the Globe

Marvin Creamer 82departure.jpg

Many people ask, “What do geographers do?” I would suggest that Marvin Creamer’s life story is all you need to know about the practical application of geography, even though most of us will never be stuck in a horizonless Indian Ocean on a “sea of glass”, or try to navigate the ferocious Drake’s Passage. Ancient mariners may have been able to sail long distances without instruments, but it is difficult, tricky, and can be extremely hazardous. Only one person, New Jersey’s Marvin Creamer, has ever attempted to circumnavigate the globe this way.  read more »

Subjects:

As Partisan Rancor Rises, States That Back a Loser Will Be Punished

bigstock-Text-USA-map-25594874.jpg

Never mind the big-tent debate talk from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney about how their respective politics will benefit all Americans. There’s a broader, ugly truth that as the last traces of purple fade from the electoral map, whoever wins will have little reason to take care of much of the country that rejected them.  read more »

Obama Fuel Economy Rules Trump Smart Growth

bigstock-CHICAGO--FEBRUARY---The-Toy-25943531.jpg

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just finalized its regulation requiring that new cars and light trucks (light vehicles) achieve average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025 (4.3 liters per 100 kilometers). This increase in the "CAFE" standard (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) is the second major step in the Obama Administration's program to improve light vehicle fuel efficiency. In 2010, EPA adopted regulations requiring 35.5 MPG average by 2016 (6.6 liters per 100 kilometers).  read more »

The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election

bigstock-Mitt-Romney-34145021.jpg

Much is said about class warfare in contemporary America, and there’s justifiable anger at the impoverishment of much of the middle and working classes. The Pew Research Center recently dubbed the 2000s a “lost decade” for middle-income earners — some 85% of Americans in that category feel it’s now more difficult to maintain their standard of living than at the beginning of the millennium, according to a Pew survey.  read more »

Need Your Water Treated? In the Philippines, Call a Mom & Pop Shop

Filipino kids-bottled water.jpg

“The history of cities can be described as the history of water.” — UK Urbanist Matthew Gandy, 2003

In Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines, that particular history is being rewritten in a way never seen anywhere before. Contrary to the well-known major municipal water privatizations of the last two decades (including that of Manila), the existing utility in Cebu City is not functionally obsolete, nor has it been systematically de-funded in order to justify a contract with a private vendor. Here, the city’s individual entrepreneurs have bypassed the municipal provider on their own.  read more »

Subjects:

Questioning the Messianic Conception of Smart Growth

garden-city-london.JPG

A new analysis from the United Kingdom concludes that smart growth (compact city) policies are not inherently preferable to other urban land use policy regimes, despite the claims of proponents."The current planning policy strategies for land use and transport have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy consumption.  read more »

Is Perestroika Coming In California?

bigstock-Jerry-Brown-27098351.jpg

When Jerry Brown was elected governor for a third time in 2010, there was widespread hope that he would repair the state’s crumbling and dysfunctional political edifice. But instead of becoming a Californian Mikhail Gorbachev, he has turned out to be something more resembling Konstantin Chernenko or Yuri Andropov, an aged hegemon desperately trying to save a dying system.  read more »

The Export Business in California (People and Jobs)

ng-sternbergx.png

California Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg countered my Wall Street Journal commentary California Declares War on Suburbia in a letter to the editor (A Bold Plan for Sustainable California Communities) that could be interpreted as suggesting that all is well in the Golden State.  read more »

Homebuilding Recovery: How CAD Stifles Solutions

Designer toolbox.jpg

The Recovery Blueprint is a multipart series on homebuilding. Part II addresses how a reliance on CAD software and a lack of collaboration stifle sustainable land development solutions.

The front cover of Engineering News-Record on March 12th, 2012 was about a technology survey conducted a few weeks earlier. Of 18 issues surveyed, the need for better software was mentioned most frequently. Under  read more »