Parking Lots... Get Rid of Them
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
I know this has nothing to do with writing, but parking lots suck. They’re ugly, bland, tasteless, and devoid of anything resembling life. They’re hot and reek of tar when the summer sun beats down on them. They’re helpful, sure, but their era of helpfulness is ending, and we need to speed it up to help save the planet.
Just spitballing some ideas here.
Better Use for the Space
On this planet, we only have a certain amount of land in total. More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, which we can’t build houses on, grow food on, or do anything meaningful with. So why are we carpeting our precious arable land with concrete, pavement, asphalt, and cement?
This article from Greentumble does a good job introducing you to the issues. Parking lots raise ambient temperature by up to 2-3 degrees Celsius, which on a summer day of 34 with a humidex in the 40s, this extra temperature can be sickly in cities. The resources that go into making parking lots and the parking lots themselves can be just as damaging and, sometimes, more damaging than the cars that park on them. This is a terrifying concept but commercialism defines Western society, and there are laws that every commercial store needs a certain amount of parking spots, and thus we get massive parking lots in our cities.
Parking lots reduce walkability. They create the need for more cars on the road. They often clear land that could have been used for pretty much anything else, and that’s the idea behind why I want to talk about parking lots.
With the world moving toward a digital existence, much more shopping is done online. Two of the world’s most massive companies that come to mind are the Alibaba Group and Amazon. Both companies are massive in their respective markets, headed by billionaire CEOs. Amazon’s CEO is even said to be the world’s first trillionaire by 2026!
Therefore, the need for more brick-and-mortar locations is diminishing. I think this should signal that it’s time to begin ridding our cities of these parking lots for other building projects. We no longer need a massive parking lot for a store when all those objects can be bought online. And as more fulfillment centres are brought to major cities, travel costs for best-selling items is cut down. These parking lot destructions wouldn’t apply to underground lots or lots for supermarkets, though making big lots stackable to save horizontal space is also a viable step in the right direction.
(Yes, I realize this would eliminate a lot of jobs, but this is an article on parking lots, not our economic welfare. Besides, in a world where everything is being automated, isn’t a universal basic income a guarantee to happen at some point within the next couple decades?)
Horizontal space on this planet is in short supply. I mean the lateral space of habitable terrain on the planet. Remember how 70% of the planet is water? Well, how much more of the planet is desert or mountain or tundra or jagged cliffs or rock shores? The liveable portion of the Earth constantly feels smaller and smaller.
Parking lots take up so much valuable space that we could use for more apartments to rent or for houses. I personally think that with overpopulation being more prevalent, major urban centres need this kind of reduction and space efficiency as we grow outward.
Some cities have a housing crisis already, specifically places like Toronto, New York, and Tokyo. For major cities where housing is hard to find and affordable rent for the middle class is unheard of, parking lot removal could help to relieve some of these issues.
We can use the space for greenhouses. We can turn empty lots into viable places to grow food for a population that is still struggling to make food security a basic human right. We simply don’t have enough food and it means food prices go up, even here in developed nations. The situation is even worse in the developing nations of the world.
The rise in food prices can be combated by finding ways to grow more food. If we could turn parking lots into small, local markets for fresh veggies and fruits, then prices could come down and people could afford fresh produce more often. Is that not more ideal than mass paving swaths of farmable land just to park cars?
We could even turn parking lots into solar panel farms. More solar panels means more electricity generated via a renewable source. And that means less fossil fuel burning and less greenhouse emissions.
Solar energy is not perfect and it does not alone create enough energy to replace other sources, but it’s a start in the right direction.
The whole idea behind scrapping parking lots would be to fuel a green future, and we can’t do that without addressing many other issues. Parking lots are just one of them, and the space of a wide open parking lot could easily power some extra households.
The extra power (roughly 15 watts for every square foot) would be more than enough to take some of the strain off of the energy sector and help to push us into greener futures.
Here’s the ultimate goal: replace parking lots with apartment buildings or condos (without ridiculous fees, just apartments you can buy) and slap solar panels all along the side and then sit a greenhouse farm on the top to help provide food to a nearby supermarket.
Sounds kind of nice to me.
So, what do you think?
Comment your thoughts!
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And have a good wander, friend.