The Crisis of Academic Urban Planning


“A wide gulf has opened up between mainstream Australian values and the prescriptions of our urban planning academics. So much so that the latter are at risk of degenerating into a cult. While it’s usually unfair to criticise a group in generalised terms, there are ample grounds in this case. Anyone who doubts the existence of an urban planning “establishment” in and around the Australian university system, and that it’s in thrall to ultra-green groupthink, should revisit some recent correspondence to our newspapers.

“A perfect example appeared in the Australian Financial Review of 31 July 2009. On that day, the paper carried a joint missive penned by no less than eight leading-lights from various urban and planning related faculties, along with two others from like-minded institutions.”

Map of the Day: Influences of Land-Use Change on Water Fluxes in the Xilin River Catchment, Inner Mongolia

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24

Click to Enlarge Xilin River Catchment

“Asian, and especially Chinese, grassland ecosystems are threatened by desertification since population and stocking rates have been growing rapidly in recent decades. This study intended to find an appropriate land use within the Xilin River watershed in Inner Mongolia, China, to sustain the ecological balance and secure peoples’ lives.

“Normative land-use scenarios were created to predict the influence of different land-use changes in the water cycle in the Xilin River basin. One scenario assumed that environmental protection will increase and another assumed that agricultural production will rise to a maximum. Scenarios were analyzed with the SWAT model (Soil and Water Assessment Tool, U.S. Department of Agriculture) and ArcGIS Desktop 9.2.

“The map shows the current land use of the Xilin river basin under different grazing intensities. As heaviest degradation is occurring around farms and villages, different grazing intensities were delineated by buffering rural settlements (1 km buffer threshold). In the next step, this map was joined with the current land-use map derived from Landsat 5 to produce the final land-use distribution. The current land use of the watershed was modeled with SWAT. The results were used to compare results from the other scenarios. The map was generated from data compiled by the MAGIM project (matter fluxes in grasslands of Inner Mongolia as influenced by stocking rate) funded by the German Research Foundation.

“Courtesy of Johanna Schäfer.”

Clinton Global Initiative, ESRI, NAVTEQ Commit Resources to Meet Climate Change Challenge

clinton…from Environment News Service

“A multi-billion dollar outpouring of generosity marked the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative last week in New York. CGI members committed themselves to work toward solutions in four global challenge areas – energy and climate change, education, global health, and economic empowerment.

“2009 Clinton Global Initiative environmental commitments include:

  • “ESRI and NAVTEQ, in partnership with the City of San Francisco, commit to implement a pilot program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from specific municipal vehicle fleets, and mobile work force vehicles in the city and county of San Francisco. By using fleet route optimization software, city workers will locate routes that minimize fuel consumption.”

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Quote of the Day

“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.  In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly.  A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government . . . The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present–and is gravely to be regarded.  Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

–U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his Farewell Address to the Nation, 17 January 1961 Relaunch Puts Stimulus Spending On the Map

…from Computerworld

“Want to know where federal stimulus dollars are being spent in your state, your county, your town or on your street?

“, the government’s official Web site for tracking federal stimulus spending, relaunched today with a trove of new data that lets visitors see — literally — where the money is going by navigating through a series of maps. The site is managed by The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB), which was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide transparency in reporting how stimulus funds are used.


“The new maps, created using tools and templates developed by  geographic information systems (GIS) vendor ESRI, will roll up data from all 50 states to show where federal contracts, grants and loans are going and who’s receiving the money. Users can drill down to see spending for their own state, county or locality.”

7% of World Population = 50% of Carbon Emissions

ns_logo…from New Scientist

“Even if the world population does stabilise soon and starts to glide downwards, that won’t solve the world’s environmental problems. The real issue is not overpopulation but overconsumption – mostly in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population.

“Take one measure: carbon dioxide emissions. Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environmental Institute, calculates that the world’s richest half billion people – that’s about 7 per cent of the global population – are responsible for 50 per cent of the world’s emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 per cent are responsible for just 7 per cent of emissions. One American or European is more often than not responsible for more emissions than an entire village of Africans.”