Politics & Law

Take a hike!

Dan Farber

Walking is a sufficiently novel idea to be the subject of newspaper stories — as if our ancestors hadn’t been doing it since long before Homo sapiens evolved.  Anyway, walking is the hot new thing in D.C., according to the Washington Post:

“Walkable” is a feature sparking sales and energizing future development and redevelopment, according to a recent report by a George Washington University professor that calls the Washington area a national model for compact urban areas where residents can live and work without cars.

“The strongest housing market is in walkable urban areas,” says Christopher B. Leinberger, author of the report, “DC: The WalkUP Wake-Up Call.” “That’s where the demand is.”

walking figures through evolution

(Source: news.com.au)

Joking aside, this is good news. Walking is not only healthy, but getting people out of cars has obvious environmental benefits.  California has been in the forefront of the move toward walkable communities, such as downtown Berkeley and Los Angeles, neighborhoods in San Francisco, Pasadena, and San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.  SB 375 is an important step in the effort to use urban planning to get people out of cars and using public transit and what my father-in-law used to call “shanks pony.”(This paper has much  more to say about this and related matters.)

If we can create more opportunities for people to get out of cars, it will be good for their health, the environment, and even their peace of mind– studies show that commuting is one of the most disliked activities. A trifecta, in other words.

Maybe those Australopithecus ancestors of ours were onto something when they decided it was easier to get around on two feet.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.

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Comments to "Take a hike!":
    • Anthony St. John '63

      I regret having to go off topic on Prof. Farber’s current post (he has discussed global warming in the past) but no academic group is seriously discussing solutions on the Berkeley Blog about the most important survival threat to civilization today, global warming, and totally unacceptable climate change events are happening so fast that it may already be too late because our models have been totally incapable of predicting what has been happening today much less in 2013.

      In my comment above I recommended spending hundreds of $millions, and I further recommend that money be spent on the fast-track creation of a new college dedicated to protecting the long-term future of our civilization.

      Specifically, I most strongly urge UC scholars, to form a college of Interdisciplinary Studies to protect the long-term future of our civilization including social sciences and professional schools (like fusion/desalination power plant design to build a plant to meet the needs of California in this decade and the Berkeley J-school for public education because they participated in the 2006 CALIFORNIA “Global Warning” issue) open this new college in 2012 because there is no doubt that the window of opportunity is already closing, if not already closed.

      [Report abuse]

    • Anthony St. John

      UC must provide international leadership for preventing global warming from making quality of life unacceptable in this century.

      Right now Global Warming has no leader that people know and respect, even discussion on Berkeley Blog is nil.

      Meanwhile in America, the republicans are doing everything they can to prevent protecting future generations because special interests like superPACs protect their own interests as their highest priority regardless of consequences even though out of control arctic melting, droughts, degrading water and food supplies and hellacious weather conditions are already occurring.

      Berkeley must take the lead, especially since Prof. Chu is Secretary of Energy, because the IPCC has failed to control CO2 pollution.

      If we can spend $321 million for a football field in 2012, we must be capable of spending at least as much protecting the future of civilization in 2013.

      [Report abuse]

    • Anthony St. John

      Prof. Farber, the one thing failure this election proved above all else is that we have not evolved any further than talking apes who don’t give a damn about perpetuating quality of life into the long-term future.

      What good is our evolution if our brains have completely failed to provide us survival instincts to turnaround a logarithmically accelerating Keeling Curve and unacceptable global warming consequences we are already experiencing, like this year’s drought and Sandy, as our highest priority?

      The World Bank (“A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided to hold warming below 2°C” warning that climate change consequences are in fact increasing much faster than projected) and Bloomberg Businessweek (IT’S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID Special Issue and “California’s Katrina” in the San Joaquin Delta in the newest issue) are the most significant recent warnings and NONE OF OUR INSTITUTIONAL LEADERS REALLY SEEM TO CARE YET!

      We must at least practice what social sciences teach us are the right things to do, or else global warming shall take total control over our destiny and evolution will cease to protect the human race in this century from accelerating extinction conditions.

      Marginalizing President Eisenhower’s warning”

      “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded”

      in his 1961 Farewell Address is proving to be one of our worst failures in history.

      [Report abuse]

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