A City Can Be Green?
When someone says a “city,” one thinks about dirty, and unhealthy. No one thinks that city living is the way to be more green. David Owen, the author of Green Metropolis proposes that living in the city is greener.
How David Owen thinks Cities are Green
- Everything is condensed so people either take public transportation, walk, or bike.
- Only half of the population has cars, most are rarely used.
- City dwellers use almost half the amount than people who live outside cities..
- Less big appliances.
- Living space is very small, which does not allow for the accumulation of things.
People have sprawled out over a large area, in order to get anything they have to drive there cars. They have more space in their cars. They have more space in their homes so they accumulate more.
Owen Claims that Solar encourages people to consume more energy and that the more green energy and cleaner energy for cars just continues to encourage the environmentally damaging behavior.
How to change?
In order to change the car-dependent lifestyle he claims that driving has to be unpleasant so no one wants to do so. He also says that HOV lanes only allow for a better flow of traffic. In order for them to really work environmentally they need to eliminate regular lanes and charge single-occupant cars. I would have to argue that carpooling is not always a realistic expectation. My mother, for example, is a doctor who has very different shifts than anyone else, she can not realistically carpool with someone, I do not think it’s fair to punish these people when there is no way they can carpool and no public transportation that is available and efficient.
Is it really greener?
While I do agree all these things make city dwellers have less of a direct environmental impact, I do not think that its impact is much less. Cities have a dense population leading to a dense concentration of pollution. Also what about all of the resources it takes to get goods and services to cities? Is that factored into his pollution equation? I think if this is factored in we might find that fossil fueled trucks, trains, and other forms of transportation are being used to supply these resources.
New York has the third highest cancer risk caused by airborne chemicals. Cities concentrate pollution that contributes to many health problems. Cities also have very high amounts of particulate pollution. With such a large population there is a large amount of garbage that needs to be disposed of. Although I realize that they would have a similar amount if they lived in the suburbs, cities do not have adequate plans for their garbage disposal. They often send it to other land fills in other states. Urban air pollution causes around 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year.
- Increase the risk of respiratory illnesses they include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Lung Cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Children and the Elderly are especially susceptible to Health Effects of Ozone, fine particles, and other airborne toxicants.
- The more polluted cities are with pollutants and smog, the more someone is at risk for hospitalization and early death.
I think that Owen makes good points but, there are many things he does not take into consideration that make the city solution appear less green. I think all communities need to have more self-sustaining practices, rather then relying on outside sources to bring in many of their goods. There will always be a portion of the population that wants to live in the city and a portion that wants to live in a rural setting. Irregardless of where one is living the use of public transportation, biking and walking should be encouraged. Communities should be as self-sustaining as possible utilizing local resources whenever possible. How will we get to a green world? Maybe a combination of ideas that Americans can adapt to and accept.
I highly recommend that you read the book, it contains some excellent ideas and is very insightful. Although, I do not think it is the all answer to our environmental problems it does bring up some very good points. I highly recommend the reading to broaden your look at environmental issues and some possible solutions. I find Owen’s writing to be very opinionated and his model for an environmental world to be very unrealistic.
What do you think? Is city living the way towards an environmentally friendly future?
“Cities all over the world are getting bigger as more and more people move from rural to urban sites, but that has created enormous problems with respect to the environmental pollution and general quality of life.”