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Newnan

Paying the price for an Urban Planet

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I'm just like you guys- I love to see Atlanta grow. I love seeing new skyscrapers rise into the air and watching develokents like AS form. I'm a fan or urbanization. But I can't help but wonder if we're all going to have to pay the price in the future for turning so much of our wilderness into concrete jungles.

For starters, this warm weather is starting to worry me, It could be just a drawn out warm front, but maybe the increased temps are a result of global warming, maybe Hurricane Katrina was too. or how about these code red smog days. Who would have thought that one day it would be dangerous to just go outside and breathe in the air. All this worries me, and If our world is in fact deteriorating due to pollution, then the increased development and population growth isn't helping.

My question is, can we continue to develope The Atlanta area and other areas in ways that won't harm our environment as much (if so, how?), or should our top concern be the environment? At that matter, is our environment even in jeopardy? Maybe global warming isn't due to pollution at all, maybe it's just a natural warming trend. What is out situation and what should be do to help it?

Facts:

On average, nearly 500 acres of forest are cut down in Metro Atlanta every day

29 Georgia counties, most in Metro Atlanta made the 2004 "dirty danger" list, which points out counties with heavy air pollution

The Chattahoochee River is one of the most polluted stretch of rivers in the country.

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Well I think downtown development is better because you are eating away less forest land and using existing developed land. As for global warming, I am just terrified of it! I was reading a book "The Coming Global Superstorm" and they mentioned that places like Atlanta are leading our country and entire planet to a second ice age! Many experts predict that that won't happen for another 250 years but with the amount of fresh water being dumped into the salty oceans every day, some higher-ups say it could happen in less than 30 years! :shok::o

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I thougt global warming would make the world hotter

Global Climate Change is a better way of describing it... basically this is why the northern hemisphere would get colder:

A huge current that circulates all over the place starts up near Greenland. If too much freshwater gets into that area of the ocean in Greenland, the current could potentially shut down. When that happens the other parts of the current won't bring heat to the northerly latitudes.

That's essentially it, in a very rough description. The Day After Tomorrow is about that happening, albeit on a hugely accelerated scale. Not making it up though; I had an Ecology lecture about it.

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The current ideas of what causes Global Warming, or if it even exists, are questionable at best. There is great division in the scientific community on just what global warming means.

One of the more interesting ideas is that global warming is progressing because certain pollutants that act as a 'sun block' are becoming less concentrated in the atmosphere due to our new treaties and policy. In a sense, the enviornmentalists may be making the situation worse. :lol:

Another interesting idea is that too many trees cause problems as well. An over-abundance of trees can suck up too much water and create drought-like conditions for other areas of an ecosystem.

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For starters, this warm weather is starting to worry me, It could be just a drawn out warm front, but maybe the increased temps are a result of global warming, maybe Hurricane Katrina was too.
Though it's source is debatable (cold front, global warming, etc.) I'm thinking we're just having what is called an "Indian Summer". It's a winter that is abnormally warm compared to most winters. They happen every so often. We've been experiencing a Southwesterly flow (from Mexico and the tropical areas) lately because high pressure in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico has been pushing it up here.

Average Monthly Temperature at Athens' WSO Airport since 1948

Check out the cycles of how January got cooler and warmer. The late 40's and early 50's were extremely warm in January (as it has been for the past couple years).

Climates run in cycles. For a few years it might be warmer and for a few years it might be cooler on average.

The Chattahoochee River is one of the most polluted stretch of rivers in the country.

This is mainly because it is one of the most convenient outlets for sewage.

Also, we get a lot of stagnant air during the warmer months of the year because of high pressure forcing it to stay here. The smoke from our cars fills up this air easily.

Atlanta's smog isn't the worst. I hear that Birmingham has much higher smog alerts because the emissions from industrial plants fills the stagnant air (they have many of same atmospheric conitions we do).

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I'm just like you guys- I love to see Atlanta grow. I love seeing new skyscrapers rise into the air and watching develokents like AS form. I'm a fan or urbanization. But I can't help but wonder if we're all going to have to pay the price in the future for turning so much of our wilderness into concrete jungles.

I think the suburbs are turning the planet into an asphalt jungle a whole lot faster than the more urban areas.

You can do 4 charming midrise buildings which will comfortably house 500 people by simply redeveloping a few acres in an urban area, without cutting down one single tree or paving one foot of new roads. If you do it right, they won't have much of a commute to work or to shopping, either.

If you try to do that in typical suburban fashion on separate 1/2 to 1 acre lots, you'll need 200-300 acres, and then'll you'll have to build new internal roads and sewers plus a new highway out to serve said suburb. That's why the forest is disappearing at such an alarming rate. You'll probably wind up creating new shopping centers and office parks as well. (And that doesn't even begin to get to the additional fuel cost that's necessary to allow all those people to come and go on long commutes).

To take down even one tree in the city of Atlanta, you have to obtain a permit from the city arborist, and that's not easy to get. If you're going to do any kind of development that takes down trees, you need to be prepared to justify it and to establish an extensive tree replacement plan.

Redeveloping old brownfields and industrial sites like Atlantic Station is, in my opinion, much more sensible and protective of the environment than building eight new cul-de-sac subdivisions, several office parks, and a bunch of strip malls in Cherokee County. Atlantic Station didn't turn any wilderness whatsoever into concrete.

I do think it is extremely important for all developers, both urban and suburban, to pay careful attention to sustainable land use practices.

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The current ideas of what causes Global Warming, or if it even exists, are questionable at best. There is great division in the scientific community on just what global warming means.

Another interesting idea is that too many trees cause problems as well. An over-abundance of trees can suck up too much water and create drought-like conditions for other areas of an ecosystem.

Both of these are basically crap. The guy who was teaching me (an award winning professor... he had some amazing stories) debunked all that junk.

First off, trees (and coral reefs too) act as carbon sinks... they take it and store it in a solid form. More trees and coral means less C02 in the atmosphere.

And as for 'great division'... nearly all climatologists agree that it is a real thing. This isn't a 50/50 split... its closer to 99/1.

Planting trees will never even bring us anywhere near the number of trees there once were. Most of the Eastern Seaboard was forest, and the rainforests were much larger, etc. Planting a few extra trees won't even begin to catch us up.

Also, why not err on the side of caution as far as this issue is concerned. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. You wear a seatbelt, right? Not because you expect to crash, but because just in case you do, you're ready.

Anyways, back to the topic...

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One way to think about it would be both urban,suburban, exurban areas are detrimintal to the natural environment. Urban areas are going to be worse off, followed by suburban areas. But there is a catch - hypothetically, it you could develop everything in a low dense manner the environment is better off. But it is not feasible to do so. So even though the concept of a low dense decentralized development pattern would be more naturally sensitive - we are not technologically there yet.

Which leads to centralized dense cores - until the concept of ecoburbia is created, the only other option is the classic city pattern. It isn't the suburbs or exurbs that are inherintly wrong - it's the commuting patterns.

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I saw this title and thought someone wanted to know about the costs to run this site. :lol:

I am convinced that ever expanding development, as it is developed in most of the sunbelt including the Atlanta Metro, is very bad for the environment. One of the big problems in the ATL metro is that you guys build really good roads. I think I saw a post here about it being close to the top in the USA. The problem of course with good roads is that people will drive on them.

One of the easiest way to stop exburban/surburban development is to stop the road building that makes all of it possible. I know it's easier said than done, but that is one of the keys to getting change. I would suggest that better land use is needed, but with the huge number of small counties in the Metro area, that is probably an impossible thing to pull off.

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