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Thread: Current urban planning problems

  1. #1

    Current urban planning problems

    I am a college student who got into a school that has a bad UP program and so decided not to go into the field..... =[
    But I like to keep up with UP by reading magazines and sorts of stuff. I came to a simple question the other day: what are some current urban planning problems in the US? It doesn't have to be city-specific, but it would be nice if there were some.

    Would the process of getting gasoline/oil internationally and into cities be an urban planning problem? I would probably think not, but was just wondering?

    So other than the obvious problems such as population density and light pollution, what are some other problems today?


  2. #2
    Oct 2009
    Omaha, Nebraska
    A major problem is our infrastructure. Alot of it is simply decaying away, especially water and steam tunnels. I've heard different accounts that the majority of US water, steam, and sewage pipes are over 50 years old and have never been shut down for a proper inspection.
    Roads provide a similar problem, well, freeways more correctly. In the last 30 years or so the amount of freeway traffic has almost tripled, but the Freeway system has grown by like 20%.
    Emergency Management Infrastructure is also basicly crap. FEMA isn't the only department of the Federal Government that is suppossed to help with an emergency, but is the only one that really responded to Hurrican Katrina, which demostrated a profound need for such a system, and also that our is severly lacking. Which is why there needs to be more people who are CERT certified.

    You mentioning Oil brings up another point. Ethanol. Corn isn't the only source of Ethanol, and is actually the worst source of it. Per Acre production of Ethanol is terrible, since the only part that can be made into Ethanol is the kernnels, which causes the amount of ethanol produced per acre to be simply terrible. Infact, it takes more gasoline to make ethanol, then you would get in return.
    Miscanthus and Switchgrass are another story. Both are classified as 'low input grasses' (as oppossed to Corn which is a 'high input grass'). So it takes less capital to grow both. Additionally, you can use almost the whole plant to make ethanol, which means you can get almost 6X the fuel yield per acre, which would more then balance out with the slightly higher cost to produce.
    Much of the complaints about ethanol are also either myths, or simple problems. The myth is that ethanol would destroy our economy because it would reduce the amount food we could grow for ourselves. Infact the US pays farmers to not grow some plots because if they were to grow to capacity, we'd be producing far more food then we could possibly use (incase you didn't know that). The solution is to instead offer money to grow miscanthus or switchgrass for ethanol production.
    The simple problem is that ethanol burns hotter. The solution is build engines meant to run off it, instead of running gas burners on ethanol. Most of the major problems faced with ethanol in gasoline engines can be solved with stronger parts.

    And thats about all I have to say about that.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    anything that impacts the supply of energy is certainly an issue for planning. This impacts the ability for people to spread out. Where energy is in short supply the development pattern is more compact and infil is much more cost effective.

    This will impact transportation and land use, as well as policies that drive planning.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Dec 2003
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Look up "The End of Suburbia" on YouTube. Its a feature-length documentary you can find in parts there. You may also find the whole thing for download elsewhere. It's about how the decline of oil supplies will put a kibbosh on the typical suburban building pattern. Wm Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" elaborates on this, discussing energy alternatives, possible scenarios. Its been called sensationalist and alarmist, but some of his predictions have already come to pass.

  5. #5
    Oct 2009
    First star to the right, straight on til morning
    The major urban planning problem is how to adapt to climate change. No matter how it started, it isn't going to stop. Planners need to push for adaptation so our great-grandchildren won't be starving and living on tiny islands.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Jul 2009
    Colo Front Range

    Adaptation _and_ mitigation are necessary.

    Quote Originally posted by gatorbabe View post
    The major urban planning problem is how to adapt to climate change. No matter how it started, it isn't going to stop. Planners need to push for adaptation so our great-grandchildren won't be starving and living on tiny islands.
    1. Adaptation responds to current losses.
    2. Mitigation responds to future losses.
    3. Adaptation plus future costs is more expensive than mitigation,
    4. Adaptation without mitigation drives procrastination penalties to infinity.

    That is: 'adaptation only' schemes lack justice among other things.

    Nonetheless, IMHO in a generation many problems will seem small in comparison to ecological issues, including man-made climate change.

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