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Saturday, March 16, 2013


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John Cartmill

Matt many of you ideas were incorporated into the original plan for Reston, VA(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reston,_Virginia). Unfortunately, it has devolved into more of a sprawling suburb than the new urban utopia Robert E. Simon first envisioned.

I think the biggest obstacle right now to these visionary plans is that people do not live where they work. Every day I cross the American Legion bridge on the beltway with thousands of other Virginia commuters into Maryland, while a steady stream of Maryland drivers flows the other way to Virginia. I know people who leave their houses before 5:00 am to commute from West Virginia to DC.

I don't think this necessarily has to be viewed as "Big Government Plot".
Taxes and incentives can bring around rapid evolution brought about by market forces. My company was given tax breaks to relocate their headquarters to Va. How about a tax break if your company has some percentage of it's employees within walking distance?


Fairfax Climate Watch

John, I think that tax incentive is a great idea.

As you point out, what a bizarre, terribly wasteful system we have now when people at point x drive to point z to work - and people at point z drive to point x to work...


I would like to see three policies adapted in developed countries that would help kick off a move away from fossil fuels:
1. A fee on carbon. Personally, I believe that the best way to go about it is a "fee-and-dividend" system where fees are collected "at the well" or at the point of importation. Then those fees are redistributed to the population of the country.
2. An end to subsidies to the fossil fuel industry (and possibly a shift of some or all of those subsidies to renewable energy companies).
3. A feed-in-tariff, or a price at which individuals (or companies or whoever) can sell renewable energy to the grid.
All these changes would change people's habits by hitting them in the one place they hate being hit: the wallet.

Fairfax Climate Watch

More good ideas!

Fairfax Climate Watch

As pointed out [not in this comment stream], high-density development could be somewhat flexible. For a developed area of the size under consideration, 1 mile in radius amounts to just over 3 square miles. The average housing unit size per person in the U.S. is around 800 square feet (and that's for owner-occupied housing), so putting these numbers together, it is quickly apparent that at just about 30% of land surface area taken up by housing, the average height would have to be only around 2 stories tall to accommodate about 80,000 people, as considered in this post.

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Convert carbon dioxide (CO2) weight to carbon (C) weight


CO2/3.67 = C 


ex: 40 GtCO2 ≈ 10.9 GtC


1 Gt (Gigatonne) = 1 billion tonnes

1 tonne = 1,000 kg


Also: 1 Pg = 1 Gt


1 Pg (Petagram) = 1 quadrillion grams


Soil specialists tend to use Pg, as they are used to working with gram units per square meter of soil area. Atmospheric specialists tend to use Gt. 

Convert carbon emissions to ppm atmospheric CO2


GtC/2.12 = ppm

To convert emissions of carbon to atmospheric ppm CO2, carbon sinks must be taken into account. 

So far, terrestrial and oceanic sinks have taken up about 50% of CO2.



ex: 40 GtCO2 emissions ≈ 10.9 GtC

10.9 GtC/2.12 ≈ 5.14 ppm CO2 before accounting for sinks

5.14 ppm CO2 x 0.5 ≈ 2.57 ppm CO2 after accounting for sinks


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