Friday, October 27, 2006

Smart Growth is not Green

'Smart Growth' -- the platitudinous urban design imposition that herds people inside arbitrary city boundaries -- is NOT a green theory. In fact, it's not even 'sustainable.'

Wendell Cox of Demographia points out that organic farmers in the US are waking up to this. Owen McShane summarises:
Smart Growth and other regulations prevent all processing of food in rural zones. These new farmers want to raise their beef, chickens and pigs on site and slaughter them on site - open to the gaze of their buying public. As they say "transparency is the best form of regulation". But these regulations are seriously restraining the development of "local miles" food producers and markets while favouring the massive centralised industrial operations. So the "slow food" and "fresh food" people, and organic farmers should be joining in the campaign against the Auckland Regional Council's Policy Change 6, and similar moves around the country. Again, Smart Growth is not Green.
'Smart Growth' policies ring-fence cities with the aim of "reducing ugly sprawl" and "preserving food-producing land" -- they have the result instead of locking people out of rural areas, and pushing up prices for housing and for land in urban areas. Auckland Regional Council's Metropolitan Urban Limit provides an example. As Cox explains, "anti-sprawl policies ration land inordinately increase the price of housing, destroying wealth creation, while intensifying traffic congestion and air pollution."

And as he points out, when you take the "footprint calculations" of the sustainability-worshippers themselves you realise that even if you could suspend disbelief over the unfortunate economic impact of restricting development, the Smart Growth credo is just wrong on its face:
The new World Watch 'Living Planet Report' provides strong evidence that the space required by urban areas is only a small part of what is required to support human habitation --- that the land required for agriculture, energy production and other factors is far greater --- 90 times greater. The World Watch data thus provides evidence that the urban form --- whether dense or sparse ("compact" or "sprawl") --- is irrelevant with respect to sustainability. [Let me repeat that: it is irrelevant.] If the World Watch prescription is reliable, then strategies to combat "urban sprawl" would yield virtually no progress toward improving sustainability (even at the theoretical level).
Full commentary here.

LINKS: World Watch, sustainability and the politics of sprawl - Wendell Cox, From the Heartland
Man's footprint on Earth too heavy to be sustained - Times Online

RELATED: Urban Design, Politics, Environment, Auckland

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