Two Questions: Made In China, Ending In Suburbia

Today at Slate, the Green Lantern asks whether American consumers (who buy heaps of toys and appliances that are made in China) are to blame for air pollution in Beijing. The answer: kind of, but it's tough to determine the extent. In the end, the Lantern reminds us that, "for all of China's environmental problems [and regardless of how much of that is our fault], Americans still emit about four times more carbon dioxide per person."

That got us thinking about our daily acts of consumption and wastefulness back home, especially those of us commuting types that make our homes in the suburbs. We couldn't help but think of our all-time favorite superlative, which comes from the documentary The End of Suburbia. Therein, James Kunstler refers to the mass construction of suburbs in the United States as "the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world."

Knustler, it just so happens, recently contributed to a Freakonomics forum (with four other forward-thinkers) in an attempt to answer the question,"What will the suburbs look like in 40 years?" The answers: no one's certain, but it's somewhere in the range of slum, wasteland, and flexible hybrid of groundbreaking modular design.