Out of Control Policy Blog

Suburbia collapsing?

Neil Peirce praises Euroliving and scolds Americans:

    While the American Dream emphasizes growth and personal wealth, Europe's focuses on sustainable development. It's true the idea of livable towns and cities has been gaining here recently, but the Europeans are centuries ahead of us in building and nurturing them. And as opposed to our profligate energy policies, the Europeans tax fuel (especially gasoline) much more heavily and are well ahead of us in developing new renewable energy sources.

According to Christopher Hume, the American way of life is the verge of collapse. And he points to a new documentary, The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream, to make his case:

    [The documentary's] argument is simple: suburbia couldn't exist without cars, and people couldn't afford to drive those cars without endless cheap gas. As they also make clear, the amount of oil pumped out of the ground is expected to peak sometime between now and 2010 at the latest. After that, every gallon of gas grows more and more expensive, rendering auto-based sprawl obsolete.

Pierce neglects to point out that suburbanization is occurring all over the world, even in cities that would fit his definition of "livable" and "sustainable," even where fuel taxes dwarf ours, even where transit systems are extensive. And what about that oil shortage?

Sprawl foes are particularly given to hyperbole. Here's a good one:

    "The whole suburban project can be summarized pretty succinctly as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world," explains author James Howard Kunstler."

Ted Balaker is Producer


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