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the future of cities and centralised living

For discussion and debate about anything. (Not a roleplay related forum; out-of-character commentary only.)
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Soiled fruit roll ups
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the future of cities and centralised living

Postby Soiled fruit roll ups » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:53 pm

The recent talk of a planetary capitol made me question the need for cities.

And I have a steaming hot take.

Centralised urban centres have just received their first ring of the death bell.
The ability for office staff to work from home opens up a range of competitive and cost cutting measures. The days of the everyday commute to the office are numbered.

Amazon has proven the same for commercial districts.

The only things needing Centralised work forces is industry, which is becoming more automated and less staffed. And entertainment, which never required high density to exist.

And they're environmental disasters.

City's are horrid cesspool of bad planning corruption and mental health issues. A diffuse rural population is easily the better option.

So what say you nsg.
Are cities living on borrowed time?
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Postby Tinhampton » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:59 pm

I remember vaguely reading something like this when the Internet first came to prevalence in the late 1990s and that... didn't quite work out as expected. At best, we might see the current shift towards homeworking on a permanent basis for any given person increase in pace; this is by no means the End of Municipal History. /londoner
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Postby Ethel mermania » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:26 pm

Working an office job from home isnt all its cracked up to be. I and most of my colleagues look forward to going back to the office. I find I am more productive, and work less hours in a office. (Though counting commuting time, total time commitment is less at home).
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Postby Diarcesia » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:28 pm

Soiled fruit roll ups wrote:Are cities living on borrowed time?

No, for better or worse.
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Soiled fruit roll ups
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Postby Soiled fruit roll ups » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:33 pm

Ethel mermania wrote:Working an office job from home isnt all its cracked up to be. I and most of my colleagues look forward to going back to the office. I find I am more productive, and work less hours in a office. (Though counting commuting time, total time commitment is less at home).


Well, I've found the opposite.
I work in rail safety and I've definitely kicked goals this lock down.

My point was more the companies that can make it work are going to significantly reduce costs. Like the monthly commute is a tenth of my pay and I'd happily lose the money to work from home.

Lower wages and no rental costs are going to significantly effect industries.
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Rojava Free State
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Postby Rojava Free State » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:34 pm

Until I have kids, I love living in the city.

Once I have kids, I'm getting the fuck out.
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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:36 pm

Cities have always and will always exist, and they’re less environmental disasters and more miraculous ways to cram humans into a smaller space so they use land, water, electricity, and gasoline far more efficiently and to centralize and scale the disposal of their waste instead of it being scattered all over the countryside here and there by a bunch of small inefficient households (which would also end up covering a vastly larger land area than dense cities and as a consequence destroying arable land we need for crops and critical wildlife habitats)— as for corruption and mental health issues, I think you’ll find plenty of that exists everywhere humans live, not just in cities
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Postby Mowte » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:39 pm

Soiled fruit roll ups wrote:And they're environmental disasters.

Actually, if managed right, cities can be way more eco-friendly. For example, you do not really need cars if you are living in a concentrated city, and public transport would be way more effective. In addition, recycling can be managed way more efficiently as long as the populace knows how to use the recycling services, just look at Copenhagen. It is easier to buy locally, as there is a higher concentration of shops in a city. By building upwards, you are using less land, and leaving more for agriculture and the wild. I could go on, but I am in a hurry. In short, as long as cities are managed properly, both by its leadership and its populace, they can be far more environmentally efficient than rural areas or the suburbs.

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Ethel mermania
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Postby Ethel mermania » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:40 pm

Soiled fruit roll ups wrote:
Ethel mermania wrote:Working an office job from home isnt all its cracked up to be. I and most of my colleagues look forward to going back to the office. I find I am more productive, and work less hours in a office. (Though counting commuting time, total time commitment is less at home).


Well, I've found the opposite.
I work in rail safety and I've definitely kicked goals this lock down.

My point was more the companies that can make it work are going to significantly reduce costs. Like the monthly commute is a tenth of my pay and I'd happily lose the money to work from home.

Lower wages and no rental costs are going to significantly effect industries.

I do agree that I think you will see more work from home, after this covid thing. we were told to expect to work from home some of the time. But for meetings, training, site inspections, human to human works best.
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Vetalia
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Postby Vetalia » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:41 pm

Ethel mermania wrote:Working an office job from home isnt all its cracked up to be. I and most of my colleagues look forward to going back to the office. I find I am more productive, and work less hours in a office. (Though counting commuting time, total time commitment is less at home).


I agree with this, in particular it's very hard to train people working remotely given the complexity of work in my field. Normally, though, we are doing on-site fieldwork so our time in the office is rare except during the October-December period. In that case I would gladly rather work from home than spend time and money on commuting for no real reason.

That being said, I think the trend towards living in cities was already starting to wane even before the coronavirus; while there a lot of great things about living in a major city, economic reality just didn't make it feasible. It's hard to enjoy all those amenities when you are essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck or are borderline homeless due to skyrocketing rent combined with an overall higher cost of living. To put it in perspective, if I wanted to move to San Francisco (say) from the suburb I live in now, my salary would have to more than double to break even...there is no way that would be possible so relocating to a city like that would amount to a major pay cut in the best of circumstances.

Another problem is that many of those who moved to the city over the past 10-15 years or so were single/unmarried...one look at the public schools in any major city shows there is no realistic option other than private school, which tacks on another massive expense. Now that they are older and more settled it simply doesn't make sense to live there unless they are extraordinarily wealthy.
Last edited by Vetalia on Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Senkaku
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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:44 pm

Mowte wrote:
Soiled fruit roll ups wrote:And they're environmental disasters.

Actually, if managed right, cities can be way more eco-friendly. For example, you do not really need cars if you are living in a concentrated city, and public transport would be way more effective. In addition, recycling can be managed way more efficiently as long as the populace knows how to use the recycling services, just look at Copenhagen. It is easier to buy locally, as there is a higher concentration of shops in a city. By building upwards, you are using less land, and leaving more for agriculture and the wild. I could go on, but I am in a hurry. In short, as long as cities are managed properly, both by its leadership and its populace, they can be far more environmentally efficient than rural areas or the suburbs.

Even cities that dump their raw sewage into the ocean or don’t recycle at all or whatever are more eco friendly than suburbs if you want to think abt their land and carbon footprints
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Vetalia
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Postby Vetalia » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:01 pm

Senkaku wrote:Even cities that dump their raw sewage into the ocean or don’t recycle at all or whatever are more eco friendly than suburbs if you want to think abt their land and carbon footprints


I am pretty sure the environmental consequences of cities packed full of millions of people dumping their untreated sewage and industrial wastes into waterways is far more severe than the consequences of someone living in a suburb in a developed country with modern infrastructure...the land impact is pretty negligible, too, and itself can be mitigated effectively with good wildlife management and preservation of green space. Even good plant management for a conventional suburban grass lawn can create habitats for numerous species and of course there is also plenty of room for gardening and other uses.

You could argue about the carbon footprint but that can be mitigated just as effectively in a suburb with much higher quality of life to boot compared to a city, particularly one where people are packed in like sardines.
Last edited by Vetalia on Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"This was no nuclear war," Eddie said. "This...this..." His thin, horrified voice sounded like that of a child.
"NOPE," Blaine agreed. "IT WAS A LOT WORSE THAN THAT, AND IT'S NOT OVER YET."

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Soiled fruit roll ups
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Postby Soiled fruit roll ups » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:06 pm

Ethel mermania wrote:
Soiled fruit roll ups wrote:
Well, I've found the opposite.
I work in rail safety and I've definitely kicked goals this lock down.

My point was more the companies that can make it work are going to significantly reduce costs. Like the monthly commute is a tenth of my pay and I'd happily lose the money to work from home.

Lower wages and no rental costs are going to significantly effect industries.

I do agree that I think you will see more work from home, after this covid thing. we were told to expect to work from home some of the time. But for meetings, training, site inspections, human to human works best.


Id disagree entirely on meetings. Never have ours been so effective.

Training I'd challenge that we haven't really started trying yet and the next couple of years will see university education as the new high school diploma level due to cost cutting associated with off site and home education. Plus online ivy league level training materials for free and you pay for the instructor and testing times.
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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:11 pm

Vetalia wrote:
Senkaku wrote:Even cities that dump their raw sewage into the ocean or don’t recycle at all or whatever are more eco friendly than suburbs if you want to think abt their land and carbon footprints


I am pretty sure the environmental consequences of dumping untreated sewage into waterways is far more severe than the consequences of someone living in a suburb in a developed country with modern infrastructure...

Victoria BC has long pumped their sewage into the Salish Sea without catastrophic results (obviously it’s not GOOD, but for medium-sized cities pumping into the ocean, it isn’t necessarily going to totally destroy the coast)—but even if you totally putrefy a river or a lake, I’d argue that’s a lot less severe than razing miles and miles of forest or paving over huge areas of farmland, and then having people move in to start living incredibly inefficient lifestyles.

the land impact is pretty negligible, too.

The land impact of SUBURBS is NEGLIGIBLE? HUH??
You could argue about the carbon footprint but that can be mitigated just as effectively in a suburb with much higher quality of life to boot.

This... isn’t true. Being more spread out means much higher transportation costs (lots of driving, low density makes mass transit less viable); it means much higher costs to construct road networks, electrical grids (and more electricity loss from transmission over longer distances), and water and sewage systems. Suburban homes tend to be larger and have much larger yards, consuming more energy and water than urban dwellings to heat and cool and to tend to their yards. “Mitigating” these problems usually boils down to densification... aka, urbanization. Cities are just a far more energy-efficient way to live.
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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:21 pm

Vetalia wrote:the land impact is pretty negligible, too, and itself can be mitigated effectively with good wildlife management and preservation of green space.

The land impact of suburban development is huge. It requires massive areas and results in large-scale excavation and paving of those areas. If you’re denying even that, there’s no point in having a conversation, since you’re not talking abt reality at all
Even good plant management for a conventional suburban grass lawn can create habitats for numerous species and of course there is also plenty of room for gardening and other uses.

Grass lawns are themselves quite resource intensive, and the habitats in suburban areas that are created after the destruction of the previous ones often get filled by common invasive species and aren’t particularly diverse or hospitable to native species. Plenty of room for gardening for pleasure, sure, and if that’s important to you then maybe that’s a factor in preferring suburbs, but it doesn’t actually make residential gardens quality habitats for wildlife.

much higher quality of life to boot compared to a city, particularly one where people are packed in like sardines.

Subjective definitions of quality of life, but as for sardines, if you’re using wealthy suburbs in developed countries as your poster child, it doesn’t make much sense to only be arguing against third world urban slums
Last edited by Senkaku on Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:25 pm

Suburban living being more pleasant for many people doesn’t actually make it environmentally superior to urban living (and in fact a lot of the things people like about suburban life versus cities are achieved only at significant environmental cost)
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Postby Loben The 2nd » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:29 pm

Senkaku wrote:Suburban living being more pleasant for many people doesn’t actually make it environmentally superior to urban living (and in fact a lot of the things people like about suburban life versus cities are achieved only at significant environmental cost)


perhaps some people dont want to be packed in like sardines.

funny how that happens.
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Postby Vetalia » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:31 pm

Senkaku wrote:Victoria BC has long pumped their sewage into the Salish Sea without catastrophic results (obviously it’s not GOOD, but for medium-sized cities pumping into the ocean, it isn’t necessarily going to totally destroy the coast)—but even if you totally putrefy a river or a lake, I’d argue that’s a lot less severe than razing miles and miles of forest or paving over huge areas of farmland, and then having people move in to start living incredibly inefficient lifestyles.


Vancouver doesn't pump raw sewage into the ocean; it has a combined sewer system which means under certain rare circumstances (such as exceptionally heavy rains) the system overflows and releases the excess stormwater and sewage into the ocean rather than being routed to a treatment plant. This is similar to many other older cities in the United States.

Also, take a look at the history of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland and Lake Erie (which is where I live)...that ecosystem was literally almost destroyed by the sheer amount of pollution dumped into the river and the impact of it radiated throughout the rest of the area. Destruction of a healthy aquatic ecosystem has knock-on effects on the rest of the region, particularly when rivers are dammed and polluted.

The land impact of SUBURBS is NEGLIGIBLE? HUH??


Yes, with good land and wildlife management and preservation of green space the impact of suburban development can be significantly offset. In reality, suburban development only occupies a minuscule portion of the total land area and rarely, if ever, impacts agricultural areas.

This... isn’t true. Being more spread out means much higher transportation costs (lots of driving, low density makes mass transit less viable); it means much higher costs to construct road networks, electrical grids (and more electricity loss from transmission over longer distances), and water and sewage systems. Suburban homes tend to be larger and have much larger yards, consuming more energy and water than urban dwellings to heat and cool and to tend to their yards. “Mitigating” these problems usually boils down to densification... aka, urbanization. Cities are just a far more energy-efficient way to live.


There are multiple ways to generate electricity on a local level, rooftop solar is a particularly good one. These days working from home is more feasible than ever, cutting down on the need to commute. Electric vehicles cut down on the need for gasoline to drive your car from place to place, good building design and investment in property cuts down on heating and building costs. On top of that, many businesses are relocating to lower cost-of-living areas rather than waste money operating in a city where they are subject to much higher taxes resulting in lower operating costs and reduced commute times for suburbanites. Really, the entire concept of locating a business in a major city is archaic to begin with, 9/10 there is literally no benefit to doing so.

And let's be honest, the quality of life is much higher in a suburb than in a city.
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"NOPE," Blaine agreed. "IT WAS A LOT WORSE THAN THAT, AND IT'S NOT OVER YET."

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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:52 pm

Vetalia wrote:
Senkaku wrote:Victoria BC has long pumped their sewage into the Salish Sea without catastrophic results (obviously it’s not GOOD, but for medium-sized cities pumping into the ocean, it isn’t necessarily going to totally destroy the coast)—but even if you totally putrefy a river or a lake, I’d argue that’s a lot less severe than razing miles and miles of forest or paving over huge areas of farmland, and then having people move in to start living incredibly inefficient lifestyles.


Vancouver doesn't pump raw sewage into the ocean; it has a combined sewer system which means under certain rare circumstances (such as exceptionally heavy rains) the system overflows and releases the excess stormwater and sewage into the ocean rather than being routed to a treatment plant. This is similar to many other older cities in the United States.

Good for Vancouver, a city I never mentioned at all lol

Also, take a look at the history of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland and Lake Erie (which is where I live)...that ecosystem was literally almost destroyed by the sheer amount of pollution dumped into the river and the impact of it radiated throughout the rest of the area. Destruction of a healthy aquatic ecosystem has knock-on effects on the rest of the region, particularly when rivers are dammed and polluted.

It sure did. I’m not saying it’s nothing; I’m saying I don’t find it convincing that it’s much worse than the environmental damage wrought by the mass construction of suburbs. And also: you seem to be arguing in favor of the most developed and technologically sophisticated suburbs, so this whole thing is sort of a red herring— as you noted, Vancouver, and most other developed major cities don’t pump raw sewage or industrial pollutants straight into their waterways. If you want to argue about whether underdeveloped urban areas are bad, then we should be comparing them to suburbs at a comparable technical and economic level of development.

The land impact of SUBURBS is NEGLIGIBLE? HUH??


Yes, with good land and wildlife management and preservation of green space the impact of suburban development can be significantly offset. In reality, suburban development only occupies a minuscule portion of the total land area and rarely, if ever, impacts agricultural areas.

This... isn’t true. Being more spread out means much higher transportation costs (lots of driving, low density makes mass transit less viable); it means much higher costs to construct road networks, electrical grids (and more electricity loss from transmission over longer distances), and water and sewage systems. Suburban homes tend to be larger and have much larger yards, consuming more energy and water than urban dwellings to heat and cool and to tend to their yards. “Mitigating” these problems usually boils down to densification... aka, urbanization. Cities are just a far more energy-efficient way to live.


There are multiple ways to generate electricity on a local level, rooftop solar is a particularly good one.

A growing and promising technology that hasn’t yet achieved wide enough penetration and which is equally applicable to urban rooftops.
These days working from home is more feasible than ever, cutting down on the need to commute.

For well-off white collar knowledge workers, yeah, they don’t necessarily have to commute to work as much as before. But they do need to drive to get groceries, to see a doctor, to visit family, to get their kids to school— the fundamental problem of being far away from all the places they need to go remains, and the lack of density precluding effective mass transit means that even if they can frequently work from home, they are just going to be driving way more.


Electric vehicles cut down on the need for gasoline to drive your car from place to place,

Depending on how your local electric company generates its power that could actually be worse, but I’ll also add that the world just doesn’t have enough cobalt for the dreams of electric car visionaries to be fully realized (and a lot of what we do have is in the famously stable and reliable Democratic Republic of the Congo).

good building design and investment in property cuts down on heating and building costs.

Developers are incentivized to make money, not to spend it on the most energy-optimal design and construction processes. You know this.
On top of that, many businesses are relocating to lower cost-of-living areas rather than waste money operating in a city where they are subject to much higher taxes resulting in lower operating costs and reduced commute times for suburbanites.

This is a political case for preferring suburban life if you’re a business owner in a city with high taxes, not an environmental one.
Really, the entire concept of locating a business in a major city is archaic to begin with, 9/10 there is literally no benefit to doing so.

I- huh?? What are you TALKING about lmao

And let's be honest, the quality of life is much higher in a suburb than in a city.

This is a purely subjective value statement that may be true of your own feelings, but isn’t true of everyone’s!
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Postby Senkaku » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:54 pm

Loben The 2nd wrote:
Senkaku wrote:Suburban living being more pleasant for many people doesn’t actually make it environmentally superior to urban living (and in fact a lot of the things people like about suburban life versus cities are achieved only at significant environmental cost)


perhaps some people dont want to be packed in like sardines.

funny how that happens.

Given the heavily American population of this forum and the remarkably low density of a lot of American cities, the argument that cities “pack people in like sardines” is somewhat amusing
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Postby Bear Stearns » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:55 pm

I live in the city because of work and I'm a moral degenerate. However, it's a soulless and unsustainable lifestyle. I'd prefer to live in the country.
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Postby James_xenoland » Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:17 pm

The virus itself means the death of the totalitarian push for denser housing in places where it isn't needed. (i.e. no land.. or 0.1% of the US) A few places around the country have been talking/dreaming about forcing it via zoning law.. only one has attempted that I know of.. minneapolis.. Passed just before the end of last year.. just before the virus.. lol That is not going to age well and is a really bad look.

It's for the best though. Dense living is a detriment to not just society, but mental and physical health anyway.


Vetalia wrote:
Senkaku wrote:Even cities that dump their raw sewage into the ocean or don’t recycle at all or whatever are more eco friendly than suburbs if you want to think abt their land and carbon footprints


I am pretty sure the environmental consequences of cities packed full of millions of people dumping their untreated sewage and industrial wastes into waterways is far more severe than the consequences of someone living in a suburb in a developed country with modern infrastructure...the land impact is pretty negligible, too, and itself can be mitigated effectively with good wildlife management and preservation of green space. Even good plant management for a conventional suburban grass lawn can create habitats for numerous species and of course there is also plenty of room for gardening and other uses.

You could argue about the carbon footprint but that can be mitigated just as effectively in a suburb with much higher quality of life to boot compared to a city, particularly one where people are packed in like sardines.

Yup, very good points.. Plus I wouldn't ever really put much thought into those types of claims.. When ideological claims precede "scientific" findings, especially ones carried out by investigators more interested in being activists.. probably best to take such claims with a spoonful of salt.
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Postby An Alan Smithee Nation » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:32 pm

So instead we will have a massive suburban sprawl over all the good agricultural land? Seems foolish.

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Postby Major-Tom » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:39 pm

I live in a medium/small town most of the time. I prefer it to the city.

That said, I recognize that urbanization is here to stay - it's far more sustainable than every individual driving 30 miles for their commute, far more sustainable for people to carpool and take public transport in urban centers, far more sustainable to build up rather than out, etc etc. In terms of environmental and human impact, cities (flawed as they often are) will be here to stay and will continue to be improved.
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Postby Major-Tom » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:40 pm

An Alan Smithee Nation wrote:So instead we will have a massive suburban sprawl over all the good agricultural land? Seems foolish.

Build megacities in the deserts.


You ever been to Phoenix? Trust me, ball-scorching deserts + 6 million people just don't go hand in hand.
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