Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sustaining Our World

Here is a concept for individuals as well as government leaders on all levels. Sustainability means planning and creating homes and cities and infrastucture to last, and securing resources to keep up on maintenance and repairs. It also means having an impact on the environment that will support future use and life, with minimal damage or impact on our fragile ecology.

The opposite of sustainability is what unfortunately is familiar to much of America. A recent story in the Detroit Free Press tells of a brand new "mega-church" being planned in northwest Oakland County. It is part of more urban sprawl that necessitates building more roads, more water lines and sewers, more schools, and of course, more strip malls and big box stores. As these new subdivisions and buildings chew up ever more farmland further and further from the core cities and suburbs, they require more and more time and gasoline to get to and fro.

Atlanta is suffering the consequences of poor planning, waste, and urban sprawl. As they overbuilt and spread out over vast areas of the region, they are now running out of water.
Larger lawns, bigger houses, miles of water lines, and wastefulness are obvious signs of the mistakes being made. Those homes thirty miles from work or downtown may not seem so pleasant when gasoline costs $3.30 a gallon.

While urban sprawl wastes land and resources, and costs us all in higher gasoline costs and taxes, there are empty houses and vacant land in the core cities and suburbs. Empty stores, empty schools, and abandoned homes sit wasting away. Yet those roads, sewers, water lines, and libraries still need to be maintained. Thus, our taxes go higher.

Driving a Hummer is not sustainable. Building a McMansion in the woods an hour from the city is not sustainable. Adding yet another lane to I75 to rush people further north is not sustainable. Driving an hour each way to work is not sustainable. Refusing to build mass public transit is not sustainable. We can learn this now, or we can wait until disaster hits.