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With a two-metre rise in sea level and no new dikes (left), Vancouver will lose land in Southlands. With a seven-metre rise (right), downtown and Stanley Park could become islands. Bing Thom Architects maps ( Source : Georgia Straight). Day 3: Finishing Up Climate Change and Cities. GEOG 346.

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day 3 finishing up climate change and cities

With a two-metre rise in sea level and no new dikes (left), Vancouver will lose land in Southlands. With a seven-metre rise (right), downtown and Stanley Park could become islands. Bing Thom Architects maps (Source: Georgia Straight)

Day 3: Finishing Up Climate Change and Cities

GEOG 346

business items

I have that folder of articles to pass around. Take note of any that might be useful to your area of interest. They should all be available on-line through the VIU Library.

  • I have one or two of you who are also in 324. We had an excellent workshop at the library on research resources. The ones that we covered were: Web of Science, JSTOR, Google Scholar, and doing a Library Search through the library homepage.
  • When you are in a database article or web page, keep in mind that you can use “Control-F” to do a keyword search.
  • Under “Help”, you will also find “Guides and Tutorials,” and can consult Citing Your Sources, as well as the resource page for Geography (, which has all kinds of useful headers. See also Evaluate Your Sources at
Business Items
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The major project instructions are now up on the web site under “Courses” at

There are a couple of items in the folder of items of interest (not the same folder with the magazines) that are explicitly about the impacts of climate change on cities – Vancouver and other Canadian municipalities, and how well-prepared they are.

Hopefully, I will also have time at the end of class today to show some short videos about examples of best practices from Europe that stand as potential models for Canada. There are also lots of examples in the two books for which Peter Newman is the lead author – Resilient Cities and Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems.

Business Items
cities and climate change cont d

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that, even with an 80% cut in GHG emissions, we will see a 2°Celsius increase in global temperatures. That will likely result in a loss of 50% of all species, not to mention other dire environmental consequences.

  • And yet, as evidenced by the recent Durban conference, we are seeing no robust action on climate change. Indeed, Canada has become one of the biggest obstructionist nations on the planet. One could argue this is equivalent to a junkie desperately continuing to shoot up or smoking crack with no thought for what the future will bring.
  • A former high school student from Coquitlam, now studying at College of the Atlantic, addressed the conference and had a huge impact around the world (see article in the December 15thVancouver Sun; no longer on-line).
Cities and Climate Change (cont’d)
cities and climate change cont d1

Despite national government inaction, some cities are taking action. The U.S. refused to sign Kyoto. Nonetheless, 165 U.S. cities, led by Seattle, agreed to support it and to implement its provisions to the extent they could.

  • In Europe, cities are doing much more, as we will see [see also the book on Post-Carbon Cities by Daniel Lerch].
Cities and Climate Change (cont’d)

Greg Nickle, former mayor

of Seattle

why are cities so central

According to Condon, cities are responsible for 80% of GHGs –”by the way we build and arrange our cities, by all the stuff we put in them, [and] by how we move from one building to the next.”

  • After World War II, Canadian and American federal governments encouraged sprawl through a number of mechanisms: guaranteed mortgages, tax deductions on mortgage interest, freeway construction, and ‘red-lining’ of certain neighbourhoods. In addition, the inefficient creation of infrastructure to service sprawled subdivisions (water, sewer, roads, police, fire, community centres, schools, etc.) has been subsidized by the taxpayer.
  • In addition to the added cost, there is also the embodied energy associated with such infrastructure which has ecological impacts.
  • Sprawl led to a drop in urban population densities in Canada from 6803 per square mile in 1960 to 4000 in 2006.Meanwhile Boston grew from 345 square miles in 1950 to 1736 in 2000, a five-fold increase in size.
Why are cities so central?
why are cities so central1

How many of you grew up in the suburbs? Why did your parents move there? What is your evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of suburban environments?

House prices are cheaper, but there are added transport costs (partly subsidized) and the already mentioned ecological impacts from infrastructure and additional driving.

In addition, sprawl has facilitated segregation by class, income, race and ethnicity – though more so in the U.S. in Canada. It has also facilitated the ‘hollowing out’ of central cities.

Why are cities so central?
why are cities so central2

East St Louis has lost over 50% of its population and Detroit has lost close to half. Much of the city, which was once a vibrant metropolis, is now a wasteland being re-colonized by artists and other intrepid types (see “Requiem for Detroit?”).

So, if cities are a big part of the problem, they can also be a big part of the solution!Earthworks Urban Farm, Detroit:

Why are cities so central?
condon s seven rules for sustainability

▪ Condon’s 7 rules are attempts at coming up with solutions.

  • Restore the Streetcar City
  • Design an Interconnected Street System
  • Locate Commercial Services, Frequent Transit, and Schools within a Five-minute Walk
  • Locate Good Jobs Close to Affordable Homes
  • Provide a Diversity of Housing Types
  • Create a Linked System of Natural Areas and Parks
  • Invest in Lighter, Greener, Cheaper, Smarter Infrastructure
Condon’s Seven Rules for Sustainability
why are cities so central3

Land use patterns and transportation (automobile dependence) are inextricably linked. From 1997 to 2010, Canada’s vehicle emissions increased by 35%. The least automobile dependence major city in Canada is Montreal, and there only 4% of all houses are single-family dwellings.

In addition to direct production of GHGs by cars, there is the contribution made by related manufacturing and infrastructure, which Condon estimates as 40% of the total of all GHGs.

Why are cities so central?