Daily Archives: 08/09/2011

Access to capabilities, energy use and cities

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I own a drill. I've used it to mount a stereo and iPod charger below a kitchen cabinet.

I also own a circular saw. It came with the drill. I've never used it.

I have a lot of other tools that I do use, though some of them (like my chainsaw and my ax) are going to see very limited use throughout their lives.

It's an example of waste that Alex Steffen uses in that TED talk above. Most homeowners, he says, have a drill. The average drill sees between 6 and 20 minutes of use in its lifetime. There are maybe a dozen houses on my block. Over the next 25 years or so, we'll use a little over an hour of drilling time. Why do we own 12 drills?

I live 3.4 miles from work; that's less than an hour's walk. Eyeballing it, I'd say there's a little under a half-mile of sidewalk. Do I walk to work? Nope. I could use a little safety.

I live about a mile from a grocery store. I go often, since I tend to eat fresh foods that only last a day or two in the fridge. There are no sidewalks, and just about the entire trip is on a 40-mph road. I don't walk there, either.

In the next 30-40 years, Steffen estimates, some 8 billion people will live close to cities. We need to be smarter with how we build them. We also need to be smarter about how we choose where we live, and our use of energy, and our sharing (see also, drills).

Learn something. Build something. Create something. Advance us, don't just make more of us.

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08/09/2011