What’s More Environmentally Desirable? Cities or Suburbs?

“Do you really want to be good to the environment? Stay away from it. Move to high-rise apartments surrounded by plenty of concrete. Americans who settle in leafy, low-density suburbs will leave a significantly deeper carbon footprint, it turns out, than Americans who live cheek by jowl in urban towers.


“Also, when environmentalists resist new construction in their dense but environmentally friendly cities, they inadvertently ensure that it will take place somewhere else–somewhere with higher carbon emissions. Much local environmentalism, in short, is bad for the environment.”

Edward L. Glaeser,  Help the Environment – Stay in the City, DC Examiner.com  February 11, 2009.

Update.The Pew Research Center just finished a study about where Americans would like to live and what sort of life-style they would like to have. The first thing they found is that even in dark times, Americans are still looking over the next horizon. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would rather live in a different type of community from the one they are living in at present.
            “Second, Americans still want to move outward. City dwellers are least happy with where they live, and cities one of the least popular places to live.” See  David Brooks, I Dream of Denver, N.Y. Times, Feb. 17, 2009, at p. A29.

Second update. David Brooks’ column produced three — count ’em, three — letters to the editor, all from evident or self-identified urban living fans, including the Chief Executive of the American Planning Association. See Letters to the Editor: From Sea to Sea, the City Still Rules, N.Y. Times, Feb. 20, 2009, at p. A22. All of them challeneged Brooks’ conclusions, but none of them took note of the Bureau of Census data indicating that American cities continue to lose population — the people are voting with their feet, and their wallets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *