Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop is a joke

Issue 147

Critical urbanism

Alissa Walker explains how Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop is even more of a joke than it used to be. Jake Bittle reviews Mario Alejandro Ariza’s “Disposable City: Miami’s Future on the Shores of Climate Catastrophe” about how Miami faces a bleak future with climate change. In Horizons, I wrote about how homeownership made our societies more conservative and individualized.

US public transit officials are asking for billions in aid from the federal Congress to avoid dire consequences. C40 Cities positions the “15-minute city” as a key strategy for the post-pandemic urban future. Poorly designed participatory processes entrench inequities instead of rectifying them. Soundcloud cofounders launching €59/m e-bike rental service in Berlin (Paris’ public service is €40/m). KPMG estimates work from home culture will permanently reduce miles driven by 10% in the US and cut car ownership. New Zealand is providing another $100 million to support transit. In Washington, DC, free parking is a massive subsidy to overwhelmingly white and wealthy people. Eviction protection for around 12 million US renters expires at the end of July, and landlords are already trying to kick them out. Car companies are basically phasing out small cars in the United States. A new startup wants you to pay $2,000/m to live in a trailer.

Tech dystopia

Grace Blakeley explains Jeff Bezos can thank Amazon’s market power for his single-day wealth boost of $13 billion. Tim Maughan, in conversation with Brian Merchant, reflects on how this crisis is revealing how precarious all of this tech has really made our world. David A. Banks explains how automation isn’t getting rid of workers, it’s giving bosses far greater power over them.

Microsoft has played a key role in laying the technological foundation for the police state. Uber deducts airport tickets from drivers’ wages, and it may violate their Constitutional rights. Tesla has the highest emotional appeal even though JD Power found its owners report more problems with their vehicles than any other automaker. UK Uber drivers are suing for access to its algorithms, arguing GDPR gives them a right to see the data Uber collects on them and how it’s used by the algorithms. Major US unions filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Amazon’s exploitative response to the pandemic. Tesla’s new deal to get cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo will directly benefit an Israeli billionaire who’s been sanctioned by the United States.

This week on Tech Won’t Save Us, I spoke to Julie Michelle Klinger, author of “Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes,” about the resource scarcity myth that’s fuelling the push for space mining and why we need to ensure space remains a commons.

Climate crisis

Polar bears could be nearly extinct by the end of the century because of sea ice loss. Apple’s climate pledge is a mixed bag (and I think this report ignores how it conveniently doesn’t have to change anything major about its business). Scientists have identified more than 12,000 species shifting their range because of climate change.

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