Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chasing our tails

 I haven't been posting much here as my energy seems to have gone into researching comments I make on others' blogs. Here was something I nearly posted as a comment elsewhere.

A tale of progressivism

New York City reached its population limit around 1800 when it ran low on wood for fuel and construction.  Two decades later, the Erie Canal brought wood from upstate and so the city grew while forests fell elsewhere.

 New York City reached its limit again around 1870 when the sheer numbers of horses to maintain, and piles of manure to remove, were thought to prevent further growth. The city shifted to trolleys, trains and autos, and the city grew while the oil gushed. 

Several times the city was limited by water supply, with public works projects responding with aqueducts and tunnels to draw water from hundreds of square miles of watersheds.

Each resource limit was overcome at a cost to something or somebody somewhere. 

Isn't interesting that the known approaches to climate disturbance take two routes that are actually utterly familiar? One is the familiar progressivism through technology that employs novel resources, and the other is conservation and efficiency with what one has. 

What makes dealing with climate so different is that we are all in it, there is nothing outside, there is no climate change equivalent of an upstate forest or an Ohio oil field or a Jersey watershed that is somewhere "else."

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