Wired: Urban Living Is Kinder to the Planet Than the Suburban Lifestyle

crandell's picture

Wired magazine this month covers 10 "green heresies" that challenge our assumptions about sustainability in the article Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green. First on the list?

Live in Cities: Urban Living Is Kinder to the Planet Than the Suburban Lifestyle
By Matt Power, 5/19/08
"The fact is, urban living is kinder to the planet, and Manhattan is perhaps the greenest place in the US. A Manhattanite's carbon footprint is 30 percent smaller than the average American's."

This article also seems to imply that urbanism-as-sustainability is still a fringe concept in the environmental movement. Is that still true? And how would you compare urbanism to the other items on the list?


norabeck's picture

Bigger bang for the effort

Talking to my friends in the environmental movement, they don't automatically think of urbanism as a potential solution but most of them inherently know the advantages when we talk about the components one by one. Driving and reduced VMT is the obvious one that everyone agrees upon--but why that is so may be less mainstream.

In regards to the other items on the list, urbanism provides advantages beyond the direct goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions--I don't see the other ones doing that. The A/C v. Heating one is odd. Is this really a significant debate? The example is rather ridiculous, "in the Northeast, a typical house heated by fuel oil emits 13,000 pounds of CO2 annually. Cooling a similar dwelling in Phoenix produces only 900 pounds of CO2 a year." Doesn't this have more to do with the coal-fired powerplants in the Northeast? And there are other concerns with building in arid climates where a steady supply of drinking water is less clear.

On the same page they have a link that states, "It's Not Just Carbon, Stupid: Dangers of Focusing Solely on Climate Change." Hmm.


Write your comments in the box below and share on your Facebook!