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✊🏙 Big Tech gets huge subsidies 💰 Deadly urban heat waves☀️ Lyft now major US bike-share player 🚲

Hey urbanists, The Guardian had a great series on the subsidies that US cities are giving to massive
July 8 · Issue #41 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
The Guardian had a great series on the subsidies that US cities are giving to massive tech companies and whether those investments are actually paying off.
I also took a look at the record heats hitting cities across the Northern Hemisphere, and why rising temperatures are an important urban issue.
Have a great Sunday!

The high urban cost of Big Tech
The Guardian has a fantastic series of articles this week looking at the $9.3 billion in subsidies given to major tech companies in the past five years — averaging $658,000 per job created — to set up facilities across the United States and whether those investments are actually paying off for locals or just padding the bottom lines of megacorporations.
  • In Seattle, Amazon’s growth has created a lot of jobs, but it’s also led to soaring house prices and increased homelessness: “There’s an incredible correlation between the increase in homelessness and the increase in the number of people who have incomes in excess of $250,000.” The company recently held city council hostage to make it repeal a tax to fund affordable housing, and since Washington does not have an income tax, the tax burden falls on the bottom end of the income spectrum: “if you’re making less than $25,000, you’re paying about 18% of your income in state and local taxes. If you’re above $250,000 you’re paying about 4% of your income in state and local taxes.” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos donated $100,000 in 2010 to oppose a campaign to overturn the law banning income taxation.
  • The $1.4 billion in tax incentives given to Tesla for its Nevada Gigafactory has left the government unable to fund public services, including bus routes for 4,000 students, and worsened inequality. The underclass who have not benefited say they’ve been “Tesla’d” and Jenny Brekhus, a Reno city councillor, says Nevada can’t “be a low tax, low service state and play this economic development game where you give away tax revenue.”
  • Foxconn’s planned Wisconsin factory is getting $4.8 billion in incentives — the highest in US history — and some believe the state will be paying the price for the next 25 years. It’s a huge gamble when Foxconn has only promised 3,000 jobs, “with the potential to grow to 13,000 new jobs.” It looks more like another Republican tax giveaway to a megacorporation than sound economic policy.
What’s the alternative to handing out billions of dollars to corporations that don’t really need it in exchange for promises which likely won’t even come to fruition or won’t pay off for locals? From the 1950s to 1990s, North Carolina pursued a successful policy of investing in education and infrastructure, and making targeted research investments to boost its existing capabilities.
Soaring temperatures have urban impacts
Source: University of Maine
Source: University of Maine
Temperatures records are being set across the Northern Hemisphere as heat waves hit multiple parts of the world simultaneously.
  • Montreal hit its highest temperature in 147 years of recording on July 2 — 36.6°C (97.9°F) — and more than 50 people have died in the heat wave afflicting southern Quebec over the past week.
  • Temperature records have been set across Ireland and the United Kingdom, causing roads to buckle and the roof of the Glasgow Science Centre to melt.
  • Southern California has seen record heats, with UCLA hitting an all-time high of 43.8°C (111°F).
  • Ouargla, Algeria reached 51.3°C (124.3°F), which is likely the highest temperature ever recorded in Africa, and other temperatures exceeding 50°C have been recorded across Asia.
It’s incredible that as the effects of climate change become ever more apparent, there are still powerful forces strongly in denial, and who will force the poor and disenfranchised to suffer the terrible consequences of inaction.
Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related death in the United States, according to the CDC, and its effects can be worse in urban areas because they’re more likely to trap heat than rural areas, which can stop temperatures from dropping at night.
Heat waves are especially deadly when nighttime temperatures don’t cool enough to offer urban residents relief. The human body isn’t able to recover from the effects of extreme heat if air temperatures don’t dip below 80 degrees Fahrenheit [26.7 degrees Celsius] at night.
This requires us to consider heat retention when designing cities, as a good urban canopy and more reflective roofs can literally mean the difference between life and death. 
Eric Holthaus
Yesterday was Africa’s hottest reliably measured temperature in recorded history: 124.3°F (51.3°C) in Algeria

Africa has 16% of the world's population—and produces just 3.8% of all greenhouse gases.

Climate change is fundamentally a story of injustice.
Other great reads
🇪🇸 Seville, Spain built 80km (49.7mi) of bike lanes in 18 months. Ridership has gone from being nearly non-existent, to almost 10%.
🚲 Lyft bought Motivate, making it the largest operator of docked bike-share services in the United States
🚊 Nice opened its second tram line earlier this week
Privatized “public” transportation is taking over because decades of tax cuts have left governments starved of infrastructure funding
🇺🇸 British architecture is dominated by white males. A new campaign wants to change that.
🚌 Transport consultant Jarrett Walker approves of NYC’s plan to redesign its bus network from scratch
🇨🇦 US may have high subway construction costs, but Canada’s have been increasing too
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me on Twitter, Medium, or Instagram for even more!
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