L[i/o]ving cities

Posts tagged ‘economical’

TO OWN OR TO USE, THAT IS THE CAR´S QUESTION

Here at City Lines I enjoy talking about some of the new paradigms that are arising in our society because the financial crisis, that we are still suffering, is a great opportunity to reflect on this type of issues. One of those paradigms that we are living is the one related with property.

The strongest example about the property crisis could be related with Cloud Computing. The new technologies are going through a new path where the consumer will have the use rights of the servers, software, hardware, contents, etc, but not the property rights of them.

As in the Cloud Computing example, transport is also facing the challenge of carsharing and carpooling policies as part of this property paradigm changes. As I try to analyze it, these new transport policies have several positive impacts into the economic, social and environmental criteria.

For instance, economically, if we share our cars, we will use them more efficiently, because they wouldn’t require so much “parking” time as they do now. Economically, as well, if you manage a great amount of cars you have a better bargaining power to obtain better prices or, alternatively, to have better technologies that will go on the direction of having a better environment.

Environmentally, managing a great car fleet also means that you can change them sooner and through that you can have the best environmental technologies. These car fleets also allow to program car replacements, which is a way to stabilize the car market. These can also be a good social criterion, because you can also stabilize the car labour market. Talking about social criteria, you can also say that sharing cars you, individually, can be more flexible if you have to change your place from a city to the countryside or vice versa.

I think that all these criteria are good to start a discussion about using or owning a car, but we have to be conscious about one last question, which is that when we are resigning to property, we are renouncing to the decision rights upon that good. So, for a good carsharing policy it is necessary that customers have a discount on the price of the service (use of cars) that will make it attractive to use them instead of to own them.

Well, I think that if you live in a rented flat you will understand it perfectly.

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THE UN-SUSTAINABILITY SPIRAL

In former posts of City Lines, I have focused my point of view on the different criteria that have to be considered for a correct planning of cities and territories. In these posts, I concluded that the main criteria to consider were social, environmental, and economic. Well, I still agree with this arguing and I would like to explain the Un-Sustainability Spiral that, nowadays, is happening under these three criteria.

I think I can start to explain this spiral with this Bible passage, Genesis 1-27, “God created man… and, then, the Spiral began. So, the first element to point out is “man” or humanity as the central element of social criteria. These social criteria basically lead us to try to have a higher life quality. Fortunately, we have been very successful in this issue during the last 10,000 years because we have been able to improve technologies that let us live three or four times more than 2,000 years ago.

Here comes the second of the criteria, the economic criterion related with technology. We can match technology and economy, because the knowledge of more technologies is the main reason that provides some nations with differential welfare to others and allow them to have better life conditions. So a modus operandi of our societies is gathering technologies as an equivalent to improving life quality.

Finally, the third criterion comes up, the environmental one, because going on gathering technologies needs natural resources. So commodities are essential to support these technologies that allow us to improve our life quality.

If we reread the thread of the argumentation we can find the Un-Sustainability Spiral. We want higher levels of life quality, so we improve our technologies and, for that, we consume more commodities. This spiral could be virtuous if commodities were infinite, which is not real, or if our new technologies were able to produce more with fewer natural resources, which nowadays is not happening, or if we wanted to have lower levels of life quality, which is definitely far from our thoughts.

In all this arguing there is only one thing that is a fact and that we cannot change, natural resources are limited on Earth. So, we have to work hard to improve technologies, otherwise we will have to fight to keep life quality, and in this war we can only aim to lose as little as possible.

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