Field of Science

Commuting & quality of life

The Phactor is on the move, a trip to the NY City area for a graduation, and this is not about that momentous occasion, but a much more mundane observation about life in a major metro area.

Even with reasonably a good public transportation system, these people spend way too much time getting to and from places.  This is not a high quality life, folks, even though you can learn to live with it.  

This gave the Phactor cause to reflect on how fortunate he has been.  Since I started making my living on college campuses in 1970, I have lived within walking distance of my work all but two years.  And quite frankly I wouldn't trade this quality of life for anything.   A great deal of my best thinking happens on my commute.  Seriously could any good ideas, other than kill, Kill, KILL, occur to drivers on these express ways?  

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

No. As a longtime denizen of the West, I don't know how people breathe, let alone survive, in the country's more crowded environs. No wonder everyone's so cranky.

~Shelley

Dodo said...

Do not confuse the city (NYC) with suburbia! Most people living in NYC do entirely depend on public transportation, bicycles and on their two feet. We New York city dwellers are known to have the absolute lowest of carbon footprints of this entire country, and I am slightly offended being looked at with pity by people living in the country side. You country folks are using a higher share of common resources, and I wish you would be more aware of it.
(sorry about the rant comment - could not help myself)

Dr A said...

Dear Dodo, and I say that without any cheap shots. The Phactor does hope you enjoyed your rant; they can be liberating, a release of that pent up hostility that comes from big city dwelling.
Please understand that the Phactor is a confirmed urban dweller, albeit one with an exceptional property, and thinks suburbia an abomination against nature, so here we agree. But I must caution that one must be careful about casting aspersions about another's carbon footprint. They can be devilishly difficult things to calculate on the whole, and while I think you are quite right about your personal transportation carbon footprint, all of that Lincolnland maize, in one form or another, has to get to you city folks so your carbon footprint is much larger in other areas. Lastly the Phactor must agree that we the more fortunate must appreciate and respect the deprivation Dodo endures for the good of all.

Dodo said...

Ahhh - I guess I asked for it...
and it does release something, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Since when was the West or the Midwest the "country side"? How quaint!

~Shelley

Larissa said...

Since the population of Manhattan more than triples in size on a daily basis due to people entering the city for work and other purposes - and considering the traffic outside my window never stops (I too am a city dweller), I think the Phactor's argument about commuting (whether it be on a train 20 min. into the city, through the holland tunnel, on a bus, or back and forth on a subway multiple times a day) holds water.

Furthermore, having done a decent amount of research on consumption and the globalization of garbage, I can safely say it is not where you live that determines resource use. Rather, resource use is more directly linked with income. As a wise scholar (Notorious B.I.G.) once said, "mo' money, mo' problems". I could even make the opposite argument of Dodo's "country folks are using a higher share of common resources" because, while country folks may live in larger homes that the average NYC family (depending on their income of course) which might use more energy - they have more room to store things, and therefore live in a less disposable culture than city folks. Meaning - what they do buy, the use all of, or reuse, or keep for longer. City folk throw less stuff away.

Sure country folk have big houses and have to drive a little further to get to the store. But the density of people and buildings and vehicles is much much smaller than that of a city like New York. In fact, I bet the carbon footprint of all those buildings crammed onto that island isn't too great. Buildings are responsible for a higher percentage of CO2 emissions than transportation vehicles you know.

I do tend to go on sometimes... none of us are perfect. I wish we were all more aware of it.

Dodo said...

well - it looks like we went from my rant into a interesting discussion. But i would still defend my argument of city dwellers using less on an average base factor (individual consumption differences not included). If I understood correctly Larissa argues that buildings close together emit more CO2 then buildings spread out more. I think she falls into a common mistake as it is counterintuitive to think of city live as 'green'. But a building that is used by dozens or more of people (apartment buildings) do in fact have a much lower per person carbon footprint. (I should be citing some real numbers from a reliable source, but it's the weekend...) Not counting all the miles of infrastructure (roads,cables,sewer,water...) necessary for each individual dwelling. And I too think the best thing is a 5 min walk to work, and hope one day to be that lucky too.

Dr A said...

The Phactor thinks several valid points have been made RE carbon footprints, and without data, that best of tiebreakers, the relative carbon footprints cannot be compared. Let us simply agree that suburbia are a crime against nature and move on.

The Phactor did try calculating his carbon footprint once, but for example, the program never asked how many trees were in my yard, thereby reducing my carbon footprint, or many other things that would influence the outcome one way or the other.