drplokta: (Default)
drplokta ([personal profile] drplokta) wrote2015-07-18 10:49 am


So, England has 35,000 square miles of countryside. How much would you say that it needs for farming, wildlife habitats, recreation, scenery, and all the other things for which we need open space? That's a fairly fundamental question while we're deciding how much of it we can afford to build things like houses on. Do we need 35,000 square miles? Would 33,000 square miles be enough? Or 30,000 square miles? Or do we perhaps need more than the 35,000 square miles that we've got? Think about your answer for a bit before moving on to read the next paragraph, which is behind a cut tag.

Well, I was lying about the 35,000 square miles; it's more like 45,000. So unless you decided we needed more than 35,000 square miles in the previous paragraph, you should have no problem with releasing vast swathes of greenfield land for building. Because the fact that I was lying about how much we have makes no difference to how much we need, so if you decided we need 35,000 square miles or less, then we have lots and lots of spare countryside on which to build. If you've suddenly decided that no, we need closer to 45,000 square miles, ask yourself why.

[identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com 2015-07-18 03:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Like most moderates, I have noticed other people each take up about a tenth of a cubic meter. The UK has what, about 64 million people of about 6.4 million cubic meters or people. They should all fit in one building 200 meters on an edge.
Edited 2015-07-18 18:53 (UTC)

[identity profile] voidampersand.livejournal.com 2015-07-18 05:11 pm (UTC)(link)
In land use policy the details matter. For farming, it's not just how much land, but the quality. For wildlife habitat, it's what ecosystems it preserves and its connectedness to other habitats. Some forms of recreation involve building — there's a big difference between a golf course or a marina and a wilderness trail. For scenery, the aesthetics of the landscape matter. And then there is countryside that is useless for all purposes. None of this is captured by a statistic such as "35,000" or "45,000".
ext_28681: (Akirlu of the Teas)

[identity profile] akirlu.livejournal.com 2015-07-18 08:11 pm (UTC)(link)
It's a dumb question. It's the wrong question entirely. So much more depends on what land, and what's on it now, and who has access to it. And there are values other than "need" that factor into whether turning, say, a national park or a working orchard into row houses is a desirable move. So your "you should have no problem" conclusion is nonsense, because "how much do we need" isn't at all the only notion that might factor into someone having a problem with converting open land into a Tesco's.

[identity profile] vicarage.livejournal.com 2015-07-18 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I thought this was a daft gimmick when I first saw it. People have no idea how in the absolute many square miles are in England, but do know what relative percentage of economically developable land around settlements they'd be happy to lose.

[identity profile] del-c.livejournal.com 2015-07-18 11:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I made a bet with myself that this would be the twist, and I was right.

The trouble with it as a debate society device is that it works exactly as well for either proposition. Just as you used it to "demonstrate" nobody needs the green-field land you need to develop, I can use it to "demonstrate" you don't need any green-field land at all: you've already got enough brown-field land you can redevelop.
hazelchaz: (gif)

[personal profile] hazelchaz 2015-07-19 05:25 am (UTC)(link)
I pick D. Not qualified to answer the question.

[identity profile] minnehaha.livejournal.com 2015-07-19 06:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Sorry about your horse pasture.