Tuesday, April 19, 2011

deepwater horizon and us

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This disaster - which took 11 lives and started a five-month-long oil spill - should have triggered more serious discussions of energy and transportation policy. The sixty-year process of crafting a car-dependent society has left us with a well-known litany of problems: social isolation and segregation, climate change, health problems ranging from asthma to obesity, environmental degradation and resource depletion. Let's take a moment to reflect on what we're doing to address these issues at tin box, and what we still need to do better.

reintegrate community: the social consequences of building motopolis are dramatic. As we've noted before, walking is an essential part of building community - the streets we share with our neighbors are the civic realm in which we participate in everyday democracy. There is a fundamental difference between cities where you can walk, and cities where you can't. Cities with a rich pedestrian life have more cohesive bodies politic. What's more, suburbanization since the second world war has exacerbated racial and class segregation in the United States. Tin box engages the street and embraces community as a first step toward reintegrating community.

drive less: living in denser communities allows us to walk and bike. Tin box's proximity to downtown South Miami means fewer trips by car. Every mile saved reduces carbon emissions (lessening climate change), reduces fuel consumption (lessening the incentive to build more Deepwater Horizons) and lessens the chance of (often fatal) accidents.

drive smarter: when we have to drive, we need to be smarter about it. Our Prius has about 70,000 miles on it, which means it has saved around 3,200 gallons of gas - and 35 tons of CO2 emissions - compared to the SUV it replaced four years ago. Carpooling to work has also reduced our consumption of fossil fuels.

what we still need to do: We need to build denser communities that concentrate social resources and allow us to walk and pedal to more destinations. We need to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. We need to expand public transit. And when we have to drive, we need to fuel our cars more sustainably.

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