Ed Driscoll

Barack to the Future

“White House pushes ‘wooden skyscrapers’ as a solution to global warming,” Michael Bastasch writes at the Daily Caller:

The White House launched a new campaign to sell its global warming agenda to rural America: “sustainable” buildings, including skyscrapers, made out of wood to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

The Agriculture Department (USDA) announced it was launching a new $1 million program to promote wood as a “green” building material to boost rural economies, as well as a $1 million competition “to demonstrate the architectural and commercial viability of using sustainable wood products in high-rise construction,” according to Department.

“Wood may be one of the world’s oldest building materials, but it is now also one of the most advanced,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Building stronger markets for innovative new wood products supports sustainable forestry, helps buffer reduce [sic] greenhouse gas emissions, and puts rural America at the forefront of an emerging industry.”

The project is combines parts of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the administration’s push to win over rural America using green jobs. The USDA hopes to spur the use of wood technologies in industrial building projects like “tall buildings and skyscrapers, as well as other projects,” claiming that such buildings would produce be more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.

“By some industry estimates, a 3-5 story building made from emerging wood technologies has the same emissions control as taking up to 550 cars of the road for one year,” according to USDA. “Wood-based designs have also been demonstrated to improve energy efficiency, thereby reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling.”

Emphasis mine. I’m not sure how Vilsack or whoever wrote his press release gets from three to five story buildings to “skyscrapers.” But in any case, it’s not as if his boss made his political bones in a city whose rich 20th century architectural tradition was spurred on by a calamity caused by a devastating late 19th century conflagration made all the more intense due to a concentrated massing of wooden structures, right?

The fire’s spread was aided by the city’s use of wood as the predominant building material, a drought prior to the fire, and strong winds from the southwest that carried flying embers toward the heart of the city. More than ⅔ of the structures in Chicago at the time of the fire were made entirely of wood. Most houses and buildings were topped with highly flammable tar or shingle roofs. All the city’s sidewalks and many roads were also made of wood. Compounding this problem, Chicago had only received an inch of rain from July 4 to October 9 causing severe drought conditions.

Don’t worry — I’m sure it will be different the next time.

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)