Thursday, June 5, 2008

Save the Planet: Move to the City!

A few months ago I got into an argument with my father over Sunday lunch. He was claiming that hybrid cars are actually worse for the environment because it takes more energy to produce them than a regular gas-guzzling car. I was irate. Dad couldn't cite any sources (Bad Daddy!--Haven't your daughters taught you anything?!). But when I later researched the subject, turns out he was at least partly right. Here are a few other environmental facts that may surprise you: cattle raised to organic standards produce more methane gas than regular cattle, cooling a home in Arizona produces less CO2 emissions than warming a house in New England, and Honolulu and Los Angeles are the two cities that emit the least amount of carbon dioxide per capita in the US.

Surprised by that last one? Here's writer Jonah Leher in Seed on the topic:

When most of us think about environmentally friendly places, we imagine rural landscapes and bucolic open spaces. We picture a terrain untouched by concrete. Cities, in contrast, seem like ecological nightmares. They are densities of pollution, artificial environments where nature consists of cockroaches, pigeons and florist shops. But, according to Bettencourt and West, the conventional wisdom is exactly backwards. Cities are bastions of environmentalism. People who live in densely populated places lead environmentally friendly lives. They consume fewer resources per person and take up less space. (On average, city dwellers use about half as much electricity as people living outside the city limits.) The typical Manhattanite generates 30 percent less CO2 than the typical American.


Herbal Amanda said...

I notice you focused mainly on air pollution in your post. You forgot to mention that farms also dump load of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer into the environment which pollutes our water. Cities also allow people to actually use less gas since they do not have to travel as far to their jobs than if you lived in rural areas. Its a wacky world we live in these days.

Also it is true that hybrids use more energy to make, but that may change as we get better at making them. What about electric cars? They may be more environmentally friendly looking, but if you lie in an area that uses fossil fuels as there energy source are you really using less gas, or simply disguising it?

About the cattle thing, is that industrial organic cattle compared to conventional industrial cattle? If so that doesn't really mean much since industrial cattle is pretty much the same whether organic or not.

Herbal Amanda said...

Also, bigger cities build up not out putting more people in a smaller space. Smaller towns and cities however tend to sprawl leading to more ares of the world being taken over with large houses which waste more energy per person. :)

Ok I will stop taking over your comments section now... unless I remember something else.

Herbal Amanda said...

In true Jillian fashion you sparked me to actually post a rant on my blog. Thanks! :)

Sean Benson said...