Vikki’s thoughts on the first class

15 09 2008

I was reading through my notes from class in attempt to figure out what to write about in this blog, and I came across a few topics that definitely interested me. First is the issue of suburbia. When I think of suburbs a few things come to mind. These include single family homes; residential areas where all of the homes bear a very similar resemblance; lower population density; automobile dependency; urban sprawl; limited access to public transit and awkward design for the pedestrian realm. There are some benefits of suburban life and these include a “safer” environment to raise children, less traffic, and more spacious living.

When I weigh the pros and cons of suburbia, I think that the cons are extremely heavy. I can’t grasp the idea behind this way of living, and why it has become so trendy. For one, it is a very expensive way to live with the price of homes and the bank-breaking gas prices these days, but more importantly it is at the expense of the environment. Just to make reference to urban sprawl, check out for more information. Basically the main outcomes of this are more carbon emissions due to more time spent driving and displacement of natural habitats for wildlife. Although some organizations are discouraging home buyers from settling in suburbia, I think more efforts need to be made to promote smart growth.

The other issue that Jae raised was the patterns of our resource consumption and distribution. This is something that I feel strongly about. I retrieved the following info from which pretty much sums up how I feel about this

The consumption rates of natural resources vary widely among individuals and nations. Americans, for example, on average use more wood and paper products and consume much more beef (which takes about 10 times as much energy to produce as the same nutritional amount of grains or vegetables) per person than almost any other nationality.

Indeed, people in the United States and Canada account for approximately 5.3% of the global population, yet they produce about 26% of global CO2 emissions ? one indicator of the amount of energy consumed.

While people often equate the amount of consumption with the level of comfort or the standard of living, large reductions in total consumption can be achieved with small improvements in energy efficiency, recycling of materials, and changes in patterns of production and distribution.

These changes appear to have little effect on the standard of living. For example, Canadians, U.S. citizens, and European Union members are generally considered to have comparable standards of living, yet Europeans on average use 47.2% as many resources per person (in oil energy equivalent units) as their North American counterparts.

…Just something to think about. I intend to talk more on this issue at a later date.




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