People don’t want to move to the burbs, they want adequate, affordable housing

Climate change focus moves to the suburbs as cities continue to sprawl
— Read on

Most people who move to the suburbs do it because it’s subsidized and incentivized at every level of government relative to housing + transport in a city. It’s not that hard to build 1200-1500 sq ft apartments or rowhomes with balconies and greenspace and soundproofing, tree-lined streets, and limited vehicle traffic and to keep it affordable. It’s certainly easier than dealing with the financial catastrophe of a nation’s wealth built on real estate scams and inflation and rising inequality. It’s definitely easier than dealing with the environmental catastrophe of sprawl. But here we are, writing news articles about how people just have to live in the suburbs and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Who gets to breathe?

Today as I’m paging through reviews for $800 HEPA filters in an early smoke season during a pandemic, I’m remembering a sci-fi story where you had to buy clean air and poor people coughed and scrimped for air canisters and died.

If we’d fixed ventilation and air purification instead of just shutting restaurants and gyms down repeatedly, we’d have gone a long way toward dealing with covid – plus the flu and colds. But we’d also have set ourselves up for less disruptive smoke seasons.

“Pas du tout! I am a Bolshevik.”

It is hard to see how a figure so marvelously intemperate could ever be bridled to the satisfaction of the Anglo-American mainstream. Still, the intellectual historian Robert Zaretsky has made an impressive attempt to win over skeptics in his new book, The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas. Somewhere between biography and philosophical overview, Zaretsky’s study sorts Weil’s views into five central categories. Each of the corresponding chapters integrates discussion of her personal eccentricities with analyses, rehabilitations, and critiques of her thought. The results are lucid and informative, but the restraint inherent to the medium, in this case the sensible academic monograph, threatens to undermine the extremity of Weil’s fiercely singular and ferociously subversive message.