Chicago vs. Houston -

Cecil, thanks for putting the Texans in their place. In fact, bigger is considered better in the Lone Star State, and they’re not above a little exaggeration.

While you point to Chicago’s superior mass-transit system (there’s a phrase you don’t hear too often), I think there are a couple of other energy-environmental factors that will keep Chicago ahead of Houston. One is that Houston’s economy is still tied to oil companies–although they have diversified quite a bit, the local economy still seems to follow the fate of Big Oil. To the extent that we reduce our oil consumption over the next 20 years, Houston’s job growth may be limited.

Impacts of global warming are tricky to predict, but it’s safe to say that a general warming trend would be more beneficial to Chicago that Houston. Also an increase in the frequency and power of hurricanes could be a real headache for Houston – the city’s evacuation for Hurricane Rita in 2005 revealed the problem of having only two interstates leading out of town. Houston is close to sea level, with the downtown elevation at 50 feet and the highest point at 125 feet, whereas Chicago’s average elevation is 579 feet.

The biggest environmental factor down the road may be fresh water supply. Most of the Sunbelt cities, Houston included, see problems ahead due to population growth, dwindling water supply and no new sources. The Texas state comptroller said the state will lose more than $450 million in revenue next year due to water shortages. Chicago, of course, sits next to the world’s largest fresh water supply.

I’m just an ignorant Texan, but I thought that Lake Baikal was the world’s largest fresh water supply.

Just to clarify, the error was on The Economist side. I may have mentioned passing the Philly metro in my interview (thus the confusion), but I am well aware we are not passing Chicago as either a city or a metro anytime soon. I have edited my blog post to clarify.

I’d also point out that Houston does not have any sort of water shortage problem, being in a tropical area with plenty of rain, as well as having most of the bayous that drain through Texas to the Gulf passing by it. Central and north Texas is another issue, though.

Glad we could get that straightened out, Tory. Cecil says no hard feelings. Given Houston’s proximity to the gulf coast, known for its dramatic weather, we agree that whatever problems you may have down there, you won’t be troubled by a lack of rain.

Also just a dumb Texan here, but according to my math, it will only be about 3.5 years until the metro area populations are equal. And the rate of growth of the two areas is likely to stay the same for the near term, making this fairly likely to happen.What that’s worth, who knows, who cares.

As far all of the global warming crap, by now anyone with a brain should be realizing that the whole thing is a religion not science.

Just stumbled onto this thread, and I was very surprised at the amount hostile comments about Texas, seems like you guys (notice I didn’t say “y’all”) have a real complex, must be over-compensating for some perceived shortcoming or self loathing. Seriously, we never think twice about Chicago. Neither good nor bad, just not anything we care too much about.

I’d certainly understand if some if this was the result of having spawned Dear Leader and his entourage.

Mind explaining your math, my friend?