Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability

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Penguin, Sep 17, 2009 - Social Science - 368 pages
8 Reviews
In this remarkable challenge to conventional thinking about the environment, David Owen argues that the greenest community in the United States is not Portland, Oregon, or Snowmass, Colorado, but New York, New York. Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan- the most densely populated place in North America -rank first in public-transit use and last in percapita greenhouse-gas production, and they consume gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn't matched since the mid-1920s, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. They are also among the only people in the United States for whom walking is still an important means of daily transportation. These achievements are not accidents. Spreading people thinly across the countryside may make them feel green, but it doesn't reduce the damage they do to the environment. In fact, it increases the damage, while also making the problems they cause harder to see and to address. Owen contends that the environmental problem we face, at the current stage of our assault on the world's nonrenewable resources, is not how to make teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. The problem is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan, whose residents presently come closer than any other Americans to meeting environmental goals that all of us, eventually, will have to come to terms with.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kwbridge - LibraryThing

I knew I would enjoy this book because I already believe that urban living is more sustainable and energy efficient. But, I found it REALLY annoying to be told that by someone who lives in a suburban / rural area and drives places that are a mile away. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Othemts - LibraryThing

Owen makes a very compelling case for cities as the most environmentally friendly places to live and work due to the efficiencies of living closer, sharing resources, and reducing travel with New York ... Read full review

Contents

One More Like Manhattan
Two Liquid Civilization
Three There and Back
Four The Great Outdoors
Five Embodied Efficiency
Six The Shape of Things to Come
NOTES
INDEX
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

David Owen is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of a dozen books. He lives in northwest Connecticut with his wife, the writer Ann Hodgman, and their two children.

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