Scientists Debate Extreme Weather Events & GHG Emissions….Urban Planners and Transportation Engineers Must Implement Innovative Sustainable Transportation & Landuse Policies

Scientists Debate Extreme Weather Events and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. However, Urban Planners and Transportation Engineers Must Implement Innovative Sustainable Transportation and Landuse Policies Solutions to Address the Mobility Needs in Cities: Cities provide good opportunity for jobs and better life for growing population. Cities are also major contributors to GHG and other harmful emissions which must be reduced to sustain quality of life for all.

More on Extreme Weather and the Greenhouse Effect: Fresh thoughts on the challenges in attributing extreme weather to human-driven climate change. This is a syndicated post, which originally appeared at Dot EarthView original post. May 15, 2012.

The above NYT DOT Earth post cites “a federal research meteorologist specializing in climate dynamics, who criticized some assertions made in an Op-Ed article on climate change by James E. Hansen of NASA. An engineer and venture capitalist focused on non-polluting energy technologies who blogs on climate at ClimatePlace.org helped Hansen craft his Times piece.”

Addressing the Needs of Sustainable Cities:

Both sides of the debate related to the human-driven climate change effects on extreme weather events including IPCC community bring strong arguments based on computer simulations, such as extrapolating the future climate change impacts on drought and floods in different parts of the U.S. Whether you agree or disagree with these claims/speculations for the U.S. and the world, we can all concur that dependence of our mobility and life style on fossil fuel consumption is definitely not sustainable. Fossil fuel sources are diminishing, greenhouse gas emissions are reaching to an extremely high level, and migration of people from rural areas to urban areas and mobility needs are all accelerating these adverse impacts on the environment. There is a strong need on all fronts to reduce dependence on fossil fuel and resulting emissions.

Megacities of the World, 2006

Sustainable Landuse and Transportation Policies:

Some examples from the U.S. follow:

  • Most past transportation projects and city planners did not fully consider the interaction of transportation infrastructure planning with the landuse planning & built environment and their adverse impacts on air quality and water quality.
  • EPA’s 1998 water quality and inventory of impaired streams revealed 21,485 impaired stream segments nationwide and over 15,500 of these impaired for pollutants known to originate from transportation or urban runoff.
  • Urban landuse is a significant contributor to air pollution and nonpoint source water pollution. According to the EPA, urban land runoff accounts for up to 40 percent of water quality problems.
  • Pollutants carried in storm water run-off can impair drinking water and reduce biological diversity in aquatic ecosystems.
  • General Accounting Office (GAO) report recommends: Closely Link Transportation Plans to both Air Quality Management Plans and Land Use Plans so each plan is in harmony with the others.

It is important to shift traditional landuse policies to a more sustainable approach by reducing number of cars on roads and harmful emissions, increasing clean mass transit alternatives (electric powered vehicles), promoting non-motorized transport and pedestrian friendly city streets, and reducing heat-island effects by planting trees and using cool building technologies. See more posts on this topic.

Dr. Uddin’s note:  I discuss in detail the impact of built-up area and transportation sources on greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution in my chapter (Chapter 23) of Climate Change Mitigation Handbook, Springer, 2012.  

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