geography 442 – a student-directed seminar

Planning for Resiliency: Density, Transportation, and Affordability

The North American lifestyle is coming to an end. Broadly speaking, there are two choices before us. We can continue to increase our consumption of finite fossil fuels, encourage suburban sprawl, and continue our love affair with the personal automobile. Conversely, we accept the reality of resource depletion, the fragility of our predominately energy intensive, low-density North American lifestyles, and we decide to transition for a post-carbon future. The first path essentially characterizes our current trajectory – business-as-usual. A handful of cities and an even smaller number of national governments have chosen the latter path of resiliency. What are the urban implications of inaction? What is the likelihood of change?

This is largely an urban story. As we move forward into a world of energy scarcity and global climate uncertainty, North American cities face many stark realities. Eighty percent of Canadians already live in cities. Cities will face greater social pressures and ecological constraints as suburban dwellers move into cities where living costs are lower and public services are provided. Higher densities, affordability, and transportation alternatives are necessary for cities to become resilient in a warmer, post-carbon world.

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