Economic Growth <> Smart Growth

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arjuna's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 4
Economic Growth <> Smart Growth

Hi all,

I posted the following in response the "Bartlett on Growth" message:


I received a suggestion to cross post it here (slightly edited):

 I have become a huge fan of the crash course and this site since finding
 it in August. I do think Bartlett's letter is unfortunate though. The
 issue of "growth" discussed here has been primarily about the misguided
 notion of endless economic growth. That is a cogent and real critique. 
We must however contend with population growth. Clearly, it's a serious problem.  We must bring it down
 globally as quickly as possible but the reality is that we will likely see 9 billion people on the planet. Hopefully it will be less. We must endeavor to make it less quickly and humanely but we are getting more
 people - that's a reality. 
So the challenge becomes how to best live within our means in the face of
 that challenge. Good "smart growth" is simply about using land in a way
 that reflects our means (land-use planners long called this "New Urbanism"
 before "smart growth" came into vogue and maybe that language is better).
 In the US, like in many areas discussed here, we have been extraordinarily
 wasteful in how we use our land. Home sizes have grown from 900 sq ft ave
 to 2500 sq ft ave since WWII even as family sizes have shrunk and we place
 homes at great distances from work and needed amenities forcing people to
 drive long distances consuming fuel and time (a major reason why our gas
 consumption is so much higher than that of many other countries).
Good smart growth puts the principles of the crash course into action by
 encouraging walkable neighborhoods with transportation options near
 amenities and jobs - more livable communities which consume fewer
 resources and promote community-building. And yes, that help us deal with population pressures even as we work to reduce them.
Unfortunately there is a thread of social thought that rejects smart
 growth - basically saying "I've got mine so tough for everyone else".
 We'll never solve our global challenges that way.

Short of telling our children and those across the world that they should live on the street (which would only worsen things), we urgently need to rethink how we use land and smart growth/new urbanism
 provides essential strategies.

Chris, I encourage you to give this one a bit more thought. 


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