Urban planning has lots to do with the commute mess we are in, and it's a very outdated model. there may not be much economic incentive to change this culture either
Yes, it hasn't changed much since they were building Babylon and Carthage, and really not much economic incentive to do anything about it. Yet.
- sure I'd love my bicycle-friendly cities (and even better where there is bike-friendly city planning), but it's not everyone's cup of tea. you can't force people to adopt more efficient modes of transport. People love their cars, and until we come up with a better car design, I'm not sure how we move the ball. maybe at some point, we will see the "true" cost of fuel.
There is no better car design. It's as good as it's going to get. What's needed is a completely different method of transport. Yes, bikes are nice, but as you say, not everyone's cup of tea and you can't force
people to use something they don't like. The built-in efficiency problem with cars is the insistence on human control. Too tedious to go into exactly why in this thread, but a completely automated system (google "Personal Rapid Transport") can be 60-90% more efficient for any given capacity. Unfortunately, that requires a completely different infrastructure, but again, that's where poor countries have a massive advantage, because they have no real infrastructure to begin with ... which is why I get intensely irritated by posts that advocate "allowing" those countries to adopt hopelessly obsolete, polluting technologies.
agree that the housing model needs change. Even in germany (with its subsidies, etc.) it still take a hefty cost to install solar power in homes (and only making sense with long-term cost capture). Your average person will not invest (or could afford to).
A combination of simple profiteering, the inherent complexity of retrofitting into a house not designed for solar, and perverse government incentives (which favour much-less-efficient PV rather than heat collectors). Fitted as standard in new houses, it would be very cheap. Ten square meters (=10MWh/year) of the latest generation thermal-diode type heat collectors costs about 1000 euros wholesale, and about 2000 euros for the associated support equipment (pumps, controllers, tank, pipes, etc). At E0.15/kWh for gas heating, a new-build system (NOT a retrofit) would pay for itself in ~2 years, even in famously un-sunny Germany.
There are many things that could be done to make a better world, but perhaps at the cost of a tyrant (think eugenics, less people, less energy, less consumption, but who decides. Less cars, less consumption, but who decides?) not ez
It's even less easy when governments are simultanously pulling the strings on their favourite (usually inappropriate) renewables method, and subsidizing fossil fuels and general pollution in the name of "economic growth", whatever that is.