Thursday, March 13, 2008

world's healthiest cities


The markets worsen, despite a massive federal infusion of cash. The limits to growth, predicted by the Club of Rome a generation ago, appear to be reached. In the short run, this means suffering for many families. But in the long run ... ? I wonder. Will it be good or will it be bad? Might it not be an opportunity, at long last, for a new Enlightenment? And in the face of the ubiquitous, systematic, and continuous Dumbing-Down of America since the 1970s, when the hippies dropped the ball, came down from their karmic high, and became god-fearing materialistic SUV-driving suburban home owners with credit cards & kids -- isn't it time for a new enlightenment?
Isn't it time for progress from wimpy greed to savvy sustainability? Isn't it time for the move from timid stupid Cheney-World to a smart and ballsy Deep Ecology?

Just asking!

Meanwhile, via Mercer we get the 2007 Health and Sanitation Index. It's a reminder of Arne Naess' distinction between "standard of living" and "quality of life". In terms of "living quality" (so Mercer), the top ten ranked cities on the Planet are:

1. Zurich, Switzerland
2. Geneva, Switzerland
3. Vancouver, Canada
4. Vienna, Austria, EU
5. Düsseldorf, Germany, EU
6. Frankfurt, Germany, EU
7. Munich, Germany, EU
8. Bern, Switzerland
9. Sydney, Australia
10. Copenhagen, Denmark, EU

Note that there are no U.S. American cities among the top ten. There are no U.S. American cities among the top twenty either.
In fact, in the New World, excluding transcontinental comparisons, the highest ranking cities in the Americas are:

1. Vancouver, Canada
2. Toronto, Canada
3. Ottawa, Canada
4. Montreal, Canada
5. Calgary, Canada

... NONE of which is in the United States.

According to Mercer's just released 2007 list, the highest ranking U.S. American cities are at the bottom of the top thirty: 28. Honolulu, and 29. San Francisco. In global comparison, better living is found in 3 Swiss, 13 European Union, 5 Canadian, 2 New Zealander, 3 Australian, and 1 Norwegian cities.

Top ranking EU cities are German (6; also Berlin, Nürnberg, Hamburg), Austrian (1), Danish (# 11 Copenhagen), Dutch (# 13 Amsterdam), Swedish (# 20 Stockholm), and Irish (# 27 Dublin).

In the global top forty we find a few American cities; there is # 36 Boston (better than Yokohama, worse than Lyon), # 44 Washington (below Osaka), # 45 Chicago, # 46 Portland, OR; # 48 NYC (better than Milan, worse than Lisbon), and # 49 Seattle.

In terms of quality of living, the absolute pits, the bottom of the barrel, so Mercer, is Baghdad, Iraq. Thank you, George Bush! Mission Accomplished! You are a Hero!

By comparison, the Mercer 2002 ratings -- before the Iraq invasion -- listed 2 US cities in the top ten: # 3 Honolulu and # 6 Minneapolis. At that time, lowest-scoring cities were in Africa. So the downfall has measurably occurred at Bush's watch.

For the Mad Hun on the Blistered Orb, this is yet another marker of the devolution of the United States of America. Well, this is what happens if you blindly trust Adam Smith's market ideology and deregulate as if there's no tomorrow. This is what happens if you blindly reject, via David Hume, climate change data, shrug off causal forcing, and consequently miss the sustainability bus. This is what happens if you blindly embrace Ayn Randian selfishness and become the greedy asshole of the Global Village. And this is what happens if you blindly buy into the evangelical notion of a static, never-changing Nature not meriting respect; the Baby Jesus version of Nature as the Great American Fridge. This is what happens.

And for the leftover republicans out there, who still think that environmental regulation is bad for business not to mention people, and who fail to envision a rational convergence of ecological, existential and economic interests, why don't you go to Zurich! Go to Geneva! At least go to Vancouver! The Mercer data settle the question. And if you're still hesitant, just today news came in that the Euro-zone is now the number one economy ... and the dollar is now falling below parity vs. Swiss franc. The results are in. Case closed. Smell the roses. That's what we get from the Big Republican Experiment. Thank you so much.

Oh, and here in Tampa, thanks to all the snarling SUVs, overweight trucks, and obese town cars, Hillsborough County just failed the EPA standards for clean air. Very very smart, everyone!

And pray tell, pretty please with sugar on top, remind me, why is Bush not yet impeached?