Saturday, July 12, 2008

Suburbia, Forests, and Nuclear Power

1) An article in the Los Angele Times reminds us that what most of us already know remains true, the suburbs are the best place to live in America. An excerpt.

“While millions of American families struggle with falling house prices, soaring gasoline costs and tightening credit, some environmentalists, urban planners and urban real estate speculators are welcoming the bad news as signaling what they have long dreamed of -- the demise of suburbia…

“Not so fast. The "out of the suburbs, back to the city" narrative rests more on anecdote than demographic or economic fact. Yes, high gas prices and rising sub-prime mortgage defaults are hurting some suburban communities, particularly newly built ones on the periphery. But the suburbs remain home to a majority of Americans and a larger proportion of U.S. families -- and people aren't leaving those communities in droves to live in cities. Even with economic growth slowing, many suburbs, exurbs and smaller towns, especially those whose economies are tied to energy, are continuing to do better than most cities in terms of job creation and population growth.”

2) This Sacramento Bee Commentary on the forests hits on all of the reasons many of us often wonder if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing when bureaucracy (public or private) is allowed, often driven by endless law suits, to dictate—from far away—what happens next door.

Wood for rebuilding from the Angora fire is readily available in the surrounding forests, already burned out and dead but still offering great building lumber, but it can’t be harvested because of upside down regulations. An excerpt.

“A year after the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe, the dead trees, debris and rubble are cleared from the devastated neighborhoods. New homes are sprouting from the earth to the tune of contractors' blaring rock music, hammers and nail guns.

“Lumber to sustain the rhythm is being transported from Canada, Oregon and Washington. Dozens of structures are rising in a cacophony of recovery and new life.

“It's all taking place within the afternoon shadows cast by the thousands of dead trees that remain standing on adjacent national forest lands. Although seared and killed by high heat, inside their charred bark is unburned wood, light and bright.

“Yet despite this volume of usable fiber, these cellulose skeletons will never be tapped to help build a single structure.

“Rather, the trees killed by the fire will be left to rot, under assault by insects and fungi, as the U.S. Forest Service plans and plans, and then plans some more, about what to do in the aftermath of the last year's disaster. It doesn't want to get sued, having lost the will to fight against environmental activists and their attorneys."

3) When you read these ten reasons why nuclear power shouldn’t be considered for American energy production, you can see why the anti-nuclear groups are slowly losing the debate.