If You're NIMBY, You Aren't Green

Environmentalists in Berkeley and Oakland are realizing that the inner-city development they protested in the past is actually more eco-friendly than the alternative.

The East Bay Area is a bastion of environmental groups and green consciousness. But until recently, many of the same groups protecting the environment were protesting new home construction, especially apartments and condominiums. The East Bay Weekly explains how the definition of "eco-friendly" is changing in California.

"Environmentalists who think globally say suburban sprawl and the destruction of rural farmland must stop. Indeed, the threat of the coming global warming crisis makes the growth of urban areas an imperative. And some activists who have fought developers for years are now embracing them and calling for so-called "smart growth" or "infill development" - dense urban housing near mass transit. And they note that downtown Berkeley and Oakland, along with the major transportation corridors between the two cities, are nearly perfect for transit-oriented development."

Full Story: You're Not an Environmentalist If You're Also a NIMBY



you're not an environmentalist if you are also pro-growth

It would be far more correct to say you're not an environmentalist if you are in favour of growth which includes so-called "smart growth". For the whole low-down see http://www.planetizen.com/node/38249.

Smart Growth and Smart Shrinkage

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which I think can clarify some of the points we have disagreed on in the past.

Charles Siegel

premature to be planning for global population decline

Although the rate of growth is slowing, global population is still increasing at a significant pace and consequently, I think it is a bit premature to be planning the form that human settlements take after the peak has been reached. I believe at this time one's efforts would be better spent in trying to further the slowdown in the rate of population growth (http://www.optimumpopulation.org/stopattwo.html), moving to a steady-state economy from the present growth-oriented one (www.steadystate.org), and moving to transitional communities characterized by a stable population and economy (http://www.examiner.com/x-3515-Denver-Political-Issues-Examiner~y2009m2d...).

Planning for Population Decline

If such a profound change is happening in 40 to 50 years, it certainly is not premature to start planning for it now.

For example, someone who starts his first job today will be retired after population peaks. US Social Security has projected that its fund will run out in the 2040s, a decade before population peaks. Would you say it is premature for them to think now about how to keep the fund solvent as this demographic change occurs? Accumulating funds for retirement takes a long time, and to be successful, we have to start thinking now about what will happen after population peaks.

Likewise, rebuilding cities takes a long time, and to be successful, we have to start thinking now about what will happen after population peaks. After population peaks, there very obviously will be relatively little demand to build new housing. Therefore, if we want to build walkable neighborhoods, we clearly have to do it now, since it will be much more difficult after population peaks. If we don't start planning for this now, we will be stuck with sprawl permanently.

Planning to slow global population growth and planning for what will happen after peak global population are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, if we slow population growth, the peak will come sooner, so we must start planning for it sooner.

Incidentally, I have talked with the director of www.steadystate.org and he generally agrees with my ideas. He contacted me after reading my book The End Of Economic Growth (www.preservenet.com/endgrowth/EndGrowth.html) and seeing that we are in agreement. That book says we should reverse sprawl and build walkable neighborhoods as one part of the end of economic growth, and he certainly didn't object to that point.

Incidentally, also, the World Bank recently projected that Canada's population will be the same in 2100 as it was in 2000 - after going up somewhat during the first half of the century and declining somewhat during the second half. Apparently, the World Bank is planning for what will happen after global population peaks, and it doesn't consider this planning premature.

Charles Siegel

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