Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reid Ewing et. al -- "Growing Cooler" as Ecological Sustainability

In the Ewing et. al reading for this week, he focuses on two major concepts: the current vehicle and fuel technology available in the United States and the continuing national trend of urban sprawl. Ewing explains the connection between the two as one of the nation's most pressing issues: global CO2 emissions. Ewing explains that although the United States has made much needed advances in vehicle and fuel technology, these improvements will not render any results in mitigating CO2 emissions as a whole. He attributes the faultiness of these seemingly beneficial improvements to the ongoing suburban sprawl occurring throughout the states. He claims that if we do not make a collective effort to stop and even reverse outward development, we will see that these technological advances alone will not make enough of a difference. In this sense, transportation carbon dioxide reductions can be viewed as a three legged stool: one leg as fuel economy, one as the carbon content of the fuel itself, and the third being vehicle miles traveled (VMT). If all three are not taken into consideration when attempting to reduce carbon dioxide, results will stagnate.
Relating this issue back to the first week of class when we read David Orr's piece about technological and ecological sustainability, we can understand Ewing's offerings as ecological sustainability in response to existing technological sustainability efforts. Improved vehicle fuel economy and hybrid vehicles have been a progressive response to climate change, however, Ewing proposes more needs to be done to ensure that the limitations of technology will not affect sustainability as a whole. In David Orr's piece, we find that ecological sustainability in contrast to technological sustainability acknowledges human limitation and how our limitations are compounded into the technologies we build. Because of this, it is necessary to go beyond even the most advanced technology and to restructure the system of land use planning in its entirety. We can improve our vehicle and fuel technologies as much as we want and can, however, if we do not switch our development patterns to be more compact, we will be unable to work in tandem with technology. Therefore, it is vital to the success of sustainability that we also strive towards educating developers, planners, and jurisdictions on more sustainable ways to approach regional planning. Furthermore, I believe that Ewing's perspective is an example of ecological sustainability because David Orr explains this type of sustainability as one which works within predefined ecological processes. Although redevelopment inward toward city centers may not exactly replicated ecological processes, compared to the outward expansion the nation has been experiencing for decades, compact development patterns will help to mitigate our human disruptions on nature.

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