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Global Warming Problem - What can be done in cities to help?

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The USA National Academy of Science has concluded that Global Warming is occuring and that human activity is responsible. So the question is what can be done in cities to bring net carbon emissions to zero? Please share specific examples if you know about them.

This thread is not to debate if global warming is occuring.

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The goal is to bring net carbon emissions to zero. This does not necessairly mean that all carbon emissions must be stopped. One easy solution, at least where there is water for it, are for people to plant trees and design public spaces to have as much green space as possible. Plants grow by taking carbon from the air and using it to build cell walls.

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It's going to take vast improvements in technology and years to implement those improvements to come anywhere close to zero net carbon emissions. In cities like New York it will be near impssoble since there are very few trees and very little greenspace.

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Is that to say that it is impossible for cities like NYC to adopt plans to reduce the huge amount of carbon that it throws into the air? According to this resource they are one of the places that has the most to lose once sea levels start to rise.

Another area where benefits could be gained is in reducing energy consumption.

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The point is, most people won't change the way they live. I know I won't drastically change the way I live for virtually any reason. There has to be technology that allows people to maintain their way of life, while at the same time reducing pollution. Things like hydrogen cars and nuclear and fusion power plants are just a couple of things that allow for that.

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Green roof policies, planting lots of trees, using lighter colors for buildings. Encourage public transportation that runs on electricity. Set up large pedestrian zones. Bike lines on roads...

this would cut down CO2 emissions a lot.

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More mass transit, less cutting down trees, less greenhouse gas emissions, etc.

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two thoughts:

building LEED certified buildings...

investing in renewable energy - wind farms, solar panels (not cost effective yet in today's market where co2 is still quite the externality - but cost wasn't mentioned - and presumably it 'costs' us in many worse ways to emit the co2 we do... :P ), etc.

of course (to digress a bit) solar panels isn't hte best idea for say, seattle, and a windfarm in nyc isn't really quite going to happen... but there are places this stuff can work.

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I think the effects are minimal here, so I doubt anything will be done about it. At least nothing that isn't required by the EPA right now.

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From the land-use side of the issue, the regional/state/federal authorities (seperately or a combination thereof) could use more teeth to regulate (well right now they hardly have any teeth). Cities have a majority of the control over land use, and we all know what the predominant type of new growth occurs in the US (low-density auto-friendly sprawl). Not too many people like more bureaucracy, but that is one of the main function of government-- to look out for the greater good (in theory). Many cities, especially suburbs, don't have an incentive to change their ways-- if they were to impose new rules/regs, then development could go to another nearby suburb.

From a transportation perspective, the current federal funding structure could use some improvement and revamping. I just can't imagine those that count in Washington not seeing impending doom with the current track. I'm too lazy right now to look up some numbers and projections from well-respected sources, but there is just an almost insurmountable "need", as some define the term, to build new highway lane-miles to get the US out of congestion or at least reduce it substantially. I don't see how that can happen, unless rediculously massive amounts of money just falls from the sky.

Each transportation bill gets more and more ear-marked highway pet-projects loaded in them, and make up a huge portion of authorized transportation funds. That takes away the ability for states or locals to decide better ways to spend that money. Furthermore, a lot of the rest of the federal funds for transportation have other strings attached to them, such as they can only be spent on freeways, or highways, etc. Probably the best chance to change the way funding works is at the federal level, as many states might not have the political backing to spend more on, say, transit, rather than on popular highway projects.

So, in short, bureaucratic changes could, over a period of time, discourage auto use (or at least SOV's), and thus cut emissions by changing the "rules of the game" so-to-speak and let the market work itself out. People could be more discouraged to drive to work, to drive alone, or to live out in the 'burbs.

Another possibility is that the EPA could make their requirements for air quality tighter for urban areas... but I don't know much about that.

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Well, in Alabama. The constitution would have to be changed to reduce our emissions. The ration of cars to people is nearly 1:1.

As it is, the constitutin in Alabama requires that all gas tax be spent on constucting and maintaining interstates and other roadways. None of it goes to Mass Transit. Birmingham has recently gone forward to the State Senate to request that 1% of all gas tax revenues go to mass transit.

Birmingham had just gotten its EPA restrictions lifted that have been in place since, like, the dawn of civilization. But as soon as they were lifted, they were set back. Lately they've been going back and forth. But the good thing is that Birmingham is improving its air quality.

The city pretty much devoured itself after most of the steel industry left and the EPA restrictions were put in place. Since then, the cities developed into the 3rd largest banking center in the country, and one of the best medical schools in the country.

This all just goes to show what a city CAN do, even when what it was known for is taken away.

Birmingham is currently planning a massive expansion of their mass transit system, looking to add a light rail street level service in the downtown area, and expanding bus services even farther OTM (Over The Mountain) and furth East and West.

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street trees are highly under utilized here in providence. also, in addition to helping the carbon emissions, they also help the heat in the summer by providing shade.

the problem with mass transit is it requires lots of power to run... which usually uses some sort of fossil fuels to get (either to make the electricity or to power the trains directly).

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street trees are highly under utilized here in providence. also, in addition to helping the carbon emissions, they also help the heat in the summer by providing shade.

I know what you mean about the trees. But, in Florence, AL, they've planted A LOT of Ginkgoes, which thrive in polluted air. When I was a an Honor Band at the University of North Alabama, the air was cleaner than it was in Decatur.

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Live in or near where you work.

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I agree with you. However, I think that corporations would do well to assist employees in locating homes or invest in developing housing to sell to employees in close proximity to work. This is quite similar to conditions in the 50s and 60s. Whole communities were populated by employees of the same facility. This kind of closeness to work would create less commuting time. Employers would be able to develop subdivisions and build capital from the homes. It would be a win win situation. However, I don't think most people would like to live around the people they work with. Privacy issues and too much contact. But it would definitely cut down on greenhouse gases.

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Turn off the lights!

I work in a theatre that houses two cinemas and a 1,000 seat auditorium. Today, like most days, the house lights in all three venues are on (that includes ceiling lights, various sconces, and the lights in the lobbies, bathrooms and hallways - I wouldn't be surprised if the dressing room lights were on right now). There are no performances until the films start running at 7, and there are only about 15 of us who work here during the day. To top it off, there's a giant neon sign that the house crew forgets to turn off at night, so it just burns and burns and burns...

It's this kind of attitude that needs to change. I'm sure mine isn't the only workplace who has such a lackadaisacal approach to saving energy.

Two other things:

1. It's just about winter in the northern hemisphere. Put a sweater on, and don't you dare touch that thermostat.

Give Christmas/Channukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus gifts that spread the word about global warming. Al Gore's book and DVD, An Inconvenient Truth, might be a good place to start.

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I agree with you. However, I think that corporations would do well to assist employees in locating homes or invest in developing housing to sell to employees in close proximity to work. This is quite similar to conditions in the 50s and 60s. Whole communities were populated by employees of the same facility. This kind of closeness to work would create less commuting time. Employers would be able to develop subdivisions and build capital from the homes. It would be a win win situation. However, I don't think most people would like to live around the people they work with. Privacy issues and too much contact. But it would definitely cut down on greenhouse gases.

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That sounds an awful lot like the factory towns and neighborhoods you see quite frequently in the south. These weren't glamourous places, the houses were almost all identical, and the company had stores and other services there that kept you indebted to the company. They didn't engender a lot of love in most locales and I'm not sure they would come around again.

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