Tag Archives: climate change

Lexington 2030 – A Vision

What will we be like in 20 years?  20 years ago this summer, the first Bush war for oil began its intial stages.  Tim Berners-Lee was formulating his idea for the world-wide web – yeah the web as we know it hadn’t been born.  The world’s population was 5.2 billion humans.  (Today, it’s 6.8 billion. When I was born in 1964, it was 3.2 billion)

This vision acknowledges the imminent threats of energy descent, and climate change, and the end of globalization.  It accepts the fact that “local” is the path to independence.

This is based on Portland’s climate action plan primarily, as well as other peak oil plans such as Bloomington’s.

I’ve been thinking about what Lexington should be doing to prepare for its next comprehensive plan.  I’m betting on business as usual – denial is very strong here – but I’m also beginning now to sound the alarm:  business as usual will not improve or even maintain our quality of life.  And that’s really all we have, isn’t it?

This is not about my values.  This isn’t a choice between values.  The world is changing rapidly to the negative. We must act now to protect ourselves and our place.

Here’s the goal:  An 80% reduction in carbon usage by 2030.   

An 80 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 will entail re-imagining the entire community— transitioning away from fossil fuels and strengthening the local economy while shifting fundamental patterns of urban form, transportation, buildings and consumption.

A vision:

■ In 2030, Lexington and Fayette County are at the heart of a vibrant region with a thriving economy, rich cultural community and diverse, ecologically sustainable neighborhoods.

■ Personal mobility and access to services has never been better. Every resident lives in a walkable and bikeable neighborhood that includes retail businesses, schools, parks and jobs. Most people rely on walking, bicycling and transit rather than driving. Pedestrians and bicyclists are prominent in the region’s commercial centers, corridors and neighborhoods.

Public transportation, bikeways, sidewalks and greenways connect neighborhoods. When people do need to drive, vehicles are highly efficient and run on low-carbon electricity and renewable fuels.

■ Green jobs are a key component of the regional economy. Products and services related to clean energy, green building, sustainable food, green infrastructure, and waste reuse and recovery providing living-wage jobs throughout the community, and Lexington is one of North America’s  hubs for sustainable industry and clean technology.

■ Homes, offices and other buildings deliver superb performance. They are durable and highly efficient, healthy, comfortable and powered primarily by solar, wind and other renewable resources.

■ The urban forest and green roofs cover the community, reducing the urban heat island effect, sequestering carbon, providing habitat, and cleaning the air and water.

■ Food and agriculture are central to the economic and cultural vitality of the community, with backyard gardens, farmers’ markets and community gardens productive and thriving. A large share of food comes from farms within the region, and residents eat a healthy diet, consuming more locally grown grains, vegetables and fruits.

■ The benefits of green infrastructure, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, quality housing, and convenient, affordable transportation options and public health services are shared equitably throughout the community.

■ Residents and businesses use resources extremely efficiently, minimizing and reusing solid waste, water, stormwater and energy.

■ The Bluegrass region has prepared for a changed climate, making infrastructure more resilient, developing reliable supplies of water, food and energy and improving public health services. Policies, investments and programs are in place to protect the residents most vulnerable to climate change and rising energy prices.

What do you think?

If you care about these issues at all, the City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan is a must read:  http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=49989&a=268612

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Filed under Economy, Environment, New World Planning, Peak Oil

The Economist Gags on Climate Change

The Economist, in the December 5th 2009 edition, has some of the dumbest words ever put into print, admittedly by a suspect publication, but still.  This goes beyond the pale.  Here is the summary:  all is well, we can keep living the life we have grown so used to, nothing wrong with it that a few tweaks can’t fix, no pain, well except for the politicians who are keeping us from nirvana…

“The problem is not a technological one. The human race has almost all the tools it needs to continue leading much the sort of life it has been enjoying without causing a net increase in greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Industrial and agricultural processes can be changed. Electricity can be produced by wind, sunlight, biomass or nuclear reactors, and cars can be powered by biofuels and electricity. Biofuel engines for aircraft still need some work before they are suitable for long-haul flights, but should be available soon.

Nor is it a question of economics. Economists argue over the sums, but broadly agree that greenhouse-gas emissions can be curbed without flattening the world economy.

It is all about politics. Climate change is the hardest political problem the world has ever had to deal with….”

…“industrial and agricultural processes can be changed…” Good lord!  We are talking about undoing 300 years of economics, 50 years of feeding an ever growing population – each basically 100% dependent on fossil fuels.   An orderly transition of this magnitude  – TO A MINIMAL CARBON LIFE – even in a good economic time will take decades.

“…cars can be powered by biofuels and electricity…” Ah yes, we wont have to change a thing –just plug in our cars at night and the world will go on like it has…suburban sprawl is here to stay… we’ve reached the highest point in human civilization and we don’t have to worry any more…

“Biofuel engines for aircraft still need some work before they are suitable for long-haul flights, but should be available soon.” Absolute bullshit. Nothing can power a 747 other than oil-based jet fuel. Tiny planes, maybe, not anything that people can travel on.  And anyway, where is actual food going to be coming from as we power all our vehicles this way?  Oh, only people stupid enough to live in Africa and Asia will suffer – too bad for them if they starve, I guess – we at least will still have our cars and planes.

Read the whole bag of poo here:  http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14994872

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Filed under Environment

Why People Aren’t Dealing With Climate Change

Here’s a great 13 minute presentation by Harvard Psychologist, and author of the book Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert answering in his own way the question: Why haven’t we rallied our collective power to solve global warning?

Very funny, and true.


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Filed under Environment

Climate Change and Lex: We have 5 years

Of vital importance for the city with the largest carbon footprint in the USA, an extremely dire report on climate change was issued last week by the United Nations:

“The UN’s top climate scientist on Thursday urged a key conference on global warming to set tough mid-term goals and warned carbon emissions had to peak by 2015 to meet a widely-shared vision.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the talks in Copenhagen in December must focus on 2020, a far more important target than mid-century.

‘Strong, urgent and effective action’ is needed, Pachauri told a meeting of ministers of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

‘If this path of mitigation is to be embarked on, to ensure stabilization of temperatures at the level that I mentioned (2 C, 3.6 F), then global emissions must peak by 2015,’ he said.” (from the AP)

Wow:  “Global emissions must peak by 2015.” Continue reading

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Am I crazy or does Lexington need to get it together? 9 Steps to a Resilient City

Why resiliency?  Lexington must be able to withstand the coming energy, climate, and economic shocks.  The world we knew even last year isn’t coming back.  Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Environment, Farming Revolution, New World Planning, Peak Oil

A Real Regional Agenda

A new world is upon us.  Are we really ready to deal with it?   There is a lot of work being done by our regional leaders to help us with “recovery.”

Yet far too much time is being wasted these days on forging regional “relationships” for the purpose of increasing economic development.   In essence what is happening is that regional leaders are simply trying to keep doing what worked for communities from the 1950s to the 1980s – smokestack chasing.  In reality, that kind of economic development is dead, and has been for at least two decades.

Sure, the mantra is a little different now:  we need the “creative class” to be our economic driver.  We need clever people, mostly young, to come here and start companies that will provide lots of jobs and an expanding revenue stream.   However, this is still smokestack chasing.  It is still the belief that something from the outside will save us from our present predicaments and return us to our dream world.

Here’s the reality: we aren’t going back to that world. Yes, there will be some world-class individuals in this region who will thrive in the global economy.  But what about the rest of us?  We need to be preparing for the real future we face.

That future can be clearly laid out.  The tipping point has been reached on climate change:  the world is growing hotter faster than anyone had thought possible.  This is resulting in new, weirder, and more destructive weather patterns.  Peaking energy supplies combined with the desire to limit more carbon caused climate change will mean that distance, basic needs, and convenience will all be far more expensive than today. The global economy is now at the mercy of that peak in energy, as the costs to transcend distance becomes higher thus negating advantages of cheaper labor.  And that labor isn’t as cheap as it once was anyway.  Bottom line: goods from far away won’t be nearly so cheap anymore.   Further, globalization has pushed down our wages, and the reset caused by this economic crisis will eliminate millions of jobs permanently. Lower wages and higher prices are looming for a society so completely addicted and dependent on cheap goods.

Our region’s leaders should be focused on a real regional agenda that will help us address these challenges.   We need to be preparing for a regional future that is resilient and independent.     To help us, I’ve created some thoughts about what we need to be doing.  Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Environment, New World Planning, Peak Oil