Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A re-formation

The global economic and environmental changes are swiftly altering our world in ways that we can't anticipate or plan for, so how can human society deal with these fundamental shifts? The way we inhabit our homes and cities will need to change from old patterns based on manufacture to a new pattern driven by efficient energy and denser urban core. Many ways exist for creating infrastructure that integrates multiple sustainable practices.. Atlantic author Richard Florida outlines a scenario by which the US (and the world) can reinvent its infrastructure to implement these new paradigms in urban design, capturing new opportunities for regeneration, growth and sustainability. This will have to address the issues of climate change, as well as completely change our destructive model of "growth", as pointed out by Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Thomas L. Friedman.

Patterns of energy capture follow not only urban needs, but also follow opportunities for capturing natural energy resources, such as solar power, for example, by appropriating unprotected Federal lands for use. Southern California has immense acreage of federal land, some of which is claimed by corporate entities for this purpose. Like the California water infrastructure, this creates a large footprint upon which the urban centers can draw. Like the old water rights claim system , this infrastructure is a patchwork of energy sources owned by the entities that file land claims, i.e., private profit from public lands (click on image to enlarge)

This new infrastructure interlaces with existing transportation infrastructure to create business opportunities, such as those outlined in Edison's Distribution and Logistics Profile (pdf file). Energy capture and distribution will align with existing systems while they create new nodes. In this manner, the entire system becomes more efficient and less wasteful. For this reason, it's vitally important to create more intelligent SYSTEMS that reinforce sustainable goals.