<p> It’s great that global warming is finally getting its day in the media spotlight. But with all the buzz about c<em>arbon footprints </em>and <em>carbon offsets</em>, I wonder whether the average American now believes that carbon dioxide is the only pollutant that we need to worry about? <br />
It's great that global warming is finally getting its day in the media spotlight. But with all the buzz about carbon footprints and carbon offsets, I wonder whether the average American now believes that carbon dioxide is the only pollutant that we need to worry about?
The attention given to carbon sequestration is perhaps the most worrisome: it implies that we can continue our fossil fuel burning ways because of the promise of largely untested technologies that will scrub carbon emissions before they enter the atmosphere. This false hope is driving the recent bipartisan push behind liquefied coal (coal converted to automotive fuel), the dirtiest "alternative" energy source around. Beware of the Senate and House bills S. 154 and and H.R. 370, which provide billions in subsidies for new coal-to-liquid plants. They enjoy support from prominent Democrats and Republicans who are pandering to their coal-rich home states. Unfortunately, even if carbon sequestration becomes feasible, liquefied coal would still be dirtier and more carbon intensive than today's gasoline.
In a Newsweek interview, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested that carbon sequestration technologies could be a pathway to guilt-free SUVs: "It's like a box that you put in your car and it takes 40 to 50 percent of the greenhouse gases out of your fuel ". That sounds encouraging, but what about all of the other tailpipe pollutants that are responsible for California's massive air quality problems?
Then there are the proposed synthetic trees -- 1000-foot towers that would suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage may well be necessary to stabilize global CO2 concentrations, but only if it is combined with aggressive reductions in fossil fuel use and a switch to truly green sources of energy like wind and decentralized solar.
The burning of any organic material -- tobacco, wood, food, coal, oil and gas -- releases a long list of harmful pollutants. Here's just a sample of the byproducts emitted by power plants and automobiles:
Particulate Matter (linked to heart and lung disease)
Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (known carcinogens)
Volatile Organic Compounds like Benzene (known carcinogens)
PCBs (known carcinogens)
Dioxins (suspected carcinogens)
1,3 Butadiene (probable carcinogen)
Removing pollutants from inherently dirty energy sources is a tall order, and toxic air contaminants were reason enough to abandon fossil fuels decades ago. Carbon sequestration is a bandaid solution that will do little to address the broad range of challenges associated with our addiction to coal and oil.
Making Healthy Places
The editors of the book "Making Healthy Places," recently published in a second edition by Island Press, discuss the intersections of public health and planning, including key concepts such as green gentrification, health impact assessments, and AI.
Where Housing Costs Are Falling Fastest
Although median home prices remain close to record highs in many cities, some of the country’s priciest metro areas are seeing home prices plummet.
Chicago ADUs Concentrated in More Affluent Neighborhoods
An analysis of city-issued permits shows that homeowners in gentrified wards are building accessory dwelling units at much higher rates than those in less well-off communities.
The Great American Exodus: A Conservative's Perspective
During his keynote speech on September 11 at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis describes the demographic shifts in America since he became governor in 2019 in what he calls the 'Great American Exodus.'
$100 Million to Help Fund Buffalo Bayou Expansion in Houston
Originally proposed in 2019, the Buffalo Park East Master Plan, which would extend Buffalo Bayou Park to the East End and Fifth Ward neighborhoods, is suddenly in high gear.
Community Land Trusts Make Homeownership Accessible
The organizations sell homes to low-income buyers at rates far below market prices, putting homeownership within reach for more families.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Smart City Expo World Congress
Daniel R. Mandelker
California High Speed Rail Authority
City of Fargo, North Dakota
City of Crystal River
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.