This article by epic angryman James Howard Kunstler did not disappoint in its bluntness or disgust for suburban development. He begins by commenting on the current state of California’s rail connection from Los Angeles to San Francisco, saying that taking it from its current dismal state to a state of high-tech semi-functionality isn’t going to help a state which is essentially bankrupt. He advoates simply taking it back to the system it ran on in the 1920’s, when it had frequent, dependable service that traveled at over 100 mph. This would theoretically be less expensive and more efficient than the state’s current plan, but it’s not tech-sexy enough for California. He goes on to criticize airport architects–“commercial aviation is toast (we just don’t know it yet). We’re back in the $70-plus a barrel-of-oil aviation death-zone for airlines.”–and French President Nicolas Sarkozy for planning on expanding Modernist tower development, which Kunstler has repeatedly attacked as unsustainable and just ugly, which many would agree with. He goes on to describe his visit to CNU 17, where he comments on the shift from better greenfield development to infill development, smaller scales, local food production and other ideas that are in line with the current sense of scarcity. In his words:
To put it bluntly, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is perhaps the only surviving collective intelligence left in the United States that is producing ideas consistent with the reality. They recognize that our survival depends on down-scaling and re-localization. They recognize the crisis we will soon face in food production, and the desperate need to reactivate the relationship between the way we inhabit the landscape and the way we feed ourselves. They recognize that the solution to the liquid fuels crisis is not cars that can run by other means but on walkable towns and cities connected by public transit.
As anyone who has checked out my books list can tell, I’m a big fan of Kunstler, and I’m glad to see that he’s still going at it.