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A Provocative Claim from my 2010 Climatopolis Book

Sunday, November 27, 2016 17:22
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Six years ago, I published Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in Our Hotter Future.  I’m on record arguing that urbanization will allow us (especially those who live in richer cities) to adapt to climate change.  Cities will compete to be resilient and footloose people will vote with their feet to achieve their own conception of the good life.  The net result of this competition will be a resilient population.

With this in mind, I recently read this nice UCLA blurb.   I remembered a prediction in my book. In the Los Angeles chapter, I argue that climate change will cause people to ride the LA subway.   Since my LA Times Book Reviewer didn’t understand my point, let me unpack this for you.

Los Angeles features a climate gradient such that it is much cooler in West LA than more inland. One way to adapt to climate change (as I explain in the book) is to build high rise towers closer to the cool ocean.  The UCLA blurb returns to this point.  As shown by NYC, when people live at high density they use public transit.  Thus, the effort to adapt will lead to a more successful subway (when it is finished a few decades from now) relative to what ridership would have been in the absence of climate change.  Thus, this is the basis of my claim that climate change will cause the LA subway to be a success.   I explain in my book that local government politics currently inhibits this adaptation because high rise buildings are not allowed in most of Santa Monica and Brentwood and other West side areas.  Local urban politics matters and economists need to study this issue more.


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