Saturday, February 20, 2010

51 / Cairo: Land Use And Transportation

Now in Egypt and seeing the sights, I have been guided today by Noha Nabil Mostafa, a very knowledgeable and professionally trained "Egyptologist." By the way, that is not my group in the picture with the Sphinx, but the picture does reveal the way tourism is currently being experienced near the Great Pyramids on the Giza Plateau.

Noha was interested not only in helping us to understand what we have been seeing in Egypt, but also in finding out what we do in the United States. Before she knew what I did, she launched off into a critique of Egyptian land use policy (illustrated), objecting very strongly to second home developments moving forward on the "green fertile fields" surrounding Cairo (her words).

I told Noha about Measure J, and its protection for commercially productive agricultural lands in Santa Cruz County, and her eyes got wide. It appears that this rather straightforward approach to land use policy resonates (at least with her) in Egypt, too.

The air pollution issues that the pictures make visible, related I feel certain to the truly horrific traffic in Cairo (pictured), were not as much at the top of Noha's consciousness. The smoggy air that permeates Cairo and its environs, and that makes the Great Pyramids largely invisible from any significant distance, is almost certainly not just the result of early morning fog from the Nile, and dust storms from the desert (excuses put forth to explain the lack of visibility of the Pyramids). I think the visibility issues are much more likely linked to the incredible traffic and the lack of much in the way of contemporary pollution reduction on the multitudes of cars that jam every street.

As those who listen to my KUSP Land Use Report know, land use policy, transportation, and air quality problems are all related. Even in Egypt!

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