Could America Build A Sunshine City?

Masdar personal rapid transit podcar, Masdar City
Masdar personal rapid transit podcar, Masdar City Wikimedia Commons

In Tuesday's New York Times, Andrew Revkin describes Masdar City, a tiny future oasis of eco-friendliness in the deserts of the Persian Gulf. As Revkin described Monday on his blog, Dot Earth, Masdar City will be:

...a 2.3-square-mile complex that by 2016 should, if plans hold, house nearly 50,000 people working on next-generation energy technologies. No cars. Solar cells for electricity and solar-thermal arrays for the energy needed for air conditioning. Local agriculture. Waste fully recycled.

The city will be funded by the $15-million Masdar Initiative of the government of the United Arab Emirates (as well as some outside investors) in an effort to put less economic focus on the ever-shrinking fossil fuel technologies.

Revkin goes on to ask what every competitive American was already thinking: "Where's Nevada, or Arizona? Where’s the federal government? Have a look at President Bush’s proposed energy budget for 2009, particularly the parts dealing with energy efficiency, solar investment, and the like."

But could it really work outside of the Middle East? I wonder especially in light of Hugh's recent post about rainfall in cities (emphasis mine):

...Scientists do believe that cities can cause rain as hot concrete warms the air, tall buildings alter the winds, and pollution from car exhausts give airborne water something to condense on, forming raindrops. The effect seems to be most pronounced in the southeastern U.S., where there’s lots of warm, humid air.

(Flickr photo of a photovoltaic cell, by Pink Dispatcher)

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