Sustainability and southern California

reduce reuse recycle
When you step back and look at the gigantic urban sprawl that is southern California it seems evident it can’t continue functioning as it is. Think about it. Traffic, as blogged here before, is utterly dysfunctional. It gets steadily worse with each passing month. Virtually all the water is piped in from long distances from the Sacramento Delta and Colorado River. 50% of the electric power for the City of Los Angeles comes from coal plants in other states. Does any of this seem sustainable in any sense of the word? Or even rational?

Well of course it doesn’t. The bizarre, convoluted infrastructure of Los Angeles just sort of happened without any real thought being given to long-term consequences. The current system is hugely inefficient. Large amounts of water are lost by evaporation during the long trip to LA. Ditto for power lost in transmission from other states.

“Sustainability” has a treehugger ring to it. But I mean something crucial about the sustainability of southern California. It can’t keep operating the way it is. Sooner or later, something will give, something will break. It’s not sustainable in the long term. When the freeways become terminally clogged or water and power shortages begin happening regularly, Los Angeles will spiral into serious chaos. Then it won’t be Greens talking sustainability, it’ll be pissed-off citizens marching on City Hall as political firestorms erupt everywhere.

Alarmist? No. Not when it’s obvious that such a crazed system can’t and won’t continue as is. I feel a bit like a prophet howling in the wilderness on this. Sure, people say, you’re right. But the enormity of the potential problems is so huge that many just don’t want to deal with it or hope it won’t happen while they’re here.

Then there’s that 800 pound gorilla out there called global warming. Toss that into the Los Angeles water and power mix, and things start to look a bit apocalyptic, don’t they? Higher temperatures mean increased power and water consumption at precisely the time the antiquated infrastructure is already starting to crumble.

Sustainability means using less water and power, recycling what you can, having smart, green homes and businesses that have all this built in, etc. With climate change upon us, it becomes nearly mandatory that big cities start doing this. Los Angeles is a perfect example of a city can not continue as it is, as climate change will force it to change. It still has time, but not much, to insure those changes are positive ones.
Reduce, resuse, recycle. It’s not just for Greens any more…