Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Economic Development With Sustainable Living

According to Neil Pearce "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s cautious if not hostile approach to climate control legislation isn’t just putting it at odds with the Obama administration.". I t may also be putting it at odds with its local organizations. It has certainly played a part in the decisions of national and international corporations like Pacific Gas and Electric and Apple to resign from the larger body.

The local Chamber, known locally as Commerce Lexington, is the entity usually chosen as the prime economic development arm of Lexington's leaders. What I'd like to know is, are they working with the Urban County Government to bring in the more environmentally conscious companies, or even is there an effort to work toward a climate controlled Lexington development scene. I don't necessarily believe that man is the cause of the recent climate changes or that the changes are irreversible. I don't even totally believe in the whole global warming scare theory, but the majority of the country's leading scientists do and yet I am not sure that I see our leadership working to do something about it. I do believe in the peak oil scenario(and the coming paradigm reset) and I certainly do not see any efforts to deal with what I see as arriving before any catastrophic effects of global warming. Our global economy may kill us all before global warming does.

A report from the Partners for Livable Communities details some of the local chambers around the country which have begun planning and doing projects in their hometowns all in the name of sustainability. Many of these chambers were in the southern and eastern US. Lexington was not on the list.

This is not just about global warming or peak oil or even reducing the outlandish per capita carbon footprint here in Lexington. It is about making and keeping Lexington a desirable place to raise a family. It will take dealing with each of the elements and making responsible choices when it comes to land use and transportation. How will we deal with our heat islands of parking lots and exhaust spewing autos? How will we reduce our use of fossil fuels, thereby leaving some for our children and grandchildren to use even more sparingly? How will we leave a more positive footprint on the Earth than our parents and grandparents did?

Where was our Commerce Lexington when we decided to expand the Urban Service Area in the mid-'90s. I think that they were right there helping to set the density targets for all the newly planned acreage. This was to be a new way of planning, a new way of looking at our fringe areas, more density in a more community center oriented setting. Now nearly fifteen years later, we look back and see that there are no community centers to which to orient and the density built that equals any development done prior to the expansion. We set the bar just above minimum and barely made it over the bar. Hooray for the status quo. And where is our Commerce Lexington these days? My bet is living right in the middle of that very expensive status quo, driving their luxury autos across town to work and leaving a larger carbon footprint than 75% of their employees.

So much for expecting a sustainable lifestyle in our economic development.