G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Reihan Salam’s blog post on New York City’s particular vulnerability to disasters – natural or man-made – should remind all of us that there are consequences to putting all of your eggs into one geographical basket. As of this writing, over half of the deaths stemming from Hurricane Sandy have occurred to New Yorkers.
I haven’t really seen this discussed among the pro-population density crowd e.g. Matt Yglesias though I do have a twitter request in to him on the topic. But it makes sense that high population density increases the per capita risk of the people who populate a particular parcel of land. Since we’re now rightly concerned about the costs that have occurred in the form of lost life and property damage, it seems that we should also ask whether it was ever a good idea to cram so many people into one small area in the first place? It’s a cost/benefit analysis, as always. But the returns to infrastructure and central planning seem to be lower and lower as population density increases.
City’s are very nice in many respects, but they tend to suck in these types of extreme situations.