Bill Leighty's presentation, for The Leighty Foundation, at the 2019 American Society of Mechanical Engineers - International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (ASME - IMECE) conference, 11-14 November, Salt Lake City. Humanity's attempts at "mitigation" of "climate change" -- the suite of imminent and future dangers caused by unrestrained burning of fossil fuels and forests, and by other anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions -- will be inadequate to prevent rapid sea level rise. Thousands, then millions, of internally displaced persons (IDP's) -- in the USA alone, and many millions, worldwide -- will abandon low-lying coastal areas and migrate upland, generally inland.
Where will we put them, in the USA at least, without sprawling Des Moines and Chicago further over the world's best farmland ?
What will we build for them ? Might this be our opportunity to correct our grand error at the end of WW2, of building our cities for cars instead of for people ?
The only efficient urban topology for excluding all personal light duty vehicles (LDV's) from the urbanized area, avoiding the costly public and private infrastructure necessary to support them, is a loop -- or donut, or torus -- a necklace of adjacent "villages" and neighborhoods centered about transit stations, about 1 km apart, served very frequently by contra-rotating, concentric, fixed guideway system (FGS) transit -- light rail or streetcar or bus transitway. The FGS also carries mail, packages, and some freight.
Plenty of village paving accommodates walking, bikes and scooters, wheelchairs, Uber and Lyft and other transportation as a service (TAAS) providers, and service vehicles. Residents' fewer private LDV's are stored in a central parking structure or lot.
Cost of living is far lower than in the low-density cities upon which these loops are placed, accommodating both IDP's and neighbors who wish to also go "carfree" and use the new transit system and the village attractions, at lower personal cost.
We need to start NOW contemplating this national and global emergency: imagining and planning, engineering and policy-making and financing.
Imposing Carfree cities upon extant cities will require a great "taking" of private property, which must be compensated. The loss of coastal real estate value will be staggering; our civilization might not survive.
CarFree planning NOW is our great responsibility and business and cultural revival opportunity, as engineers and businesspeople and citizens.