As environmental scientists have been warning for decades, our use of fossil fuels will be our destruction. For this reason, President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the white house, only to be removed shortly after by Reagan. Certainly a rational decision… Since then there has been little push for investment in renewable energy sources, and the Obama stimulus was too little too late.
To make matters worse, a NASA study was just released and its conclusion is not a good one. Industrial civilization will collapse in the coming decades due to climate change and extreme wealth inequality. As for those that believe that technology will save us:
“Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.”
I am hopeful that mankind has the capacity to overcome it’s biggest challenge yet, but I am skeptical, especially when so many(Americans at least) deny the problem even exists. The push for offshore drilling, fracking, and the Keystone XL Pipeline illustrates this ignorance perfectly.
From a planning perspective, one could shift society in a direction that abandons use of the automobile and encourages public transportation, thus reducing our dependence on a dwindling oil supply. This would need to be accompanied by mass relocation of populations to the cities. So long as suburbs are the norm, energy consumption will remain unsustainable. America could also follow Europe’s model and incorporate bike lanes, again helping to shift transportation away from the automobile.
Planners could also work in conjunction with politicians to provide incentives for the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This is unlikely however due to the close ties between politicians and big money interests. Also, solar and wind still present many challenges, and have failed to produce energy like oil can, thus making it’s economics less appealing. For this reason nuclear may be the only actual option we have left, but with more extreme weather on its way, its questionable whether or not it coud ever be a safe option.
In conclusion, climate change is a very real issue, and one that planners need to address head on. While they may not have as much influence over how we get our energy, they can make use of zoning to encourage migration back to the cities, and promote public transportation.