I've never owned a car and I've lived between Washington D.C. and Manhattan for most of my adult life. Before that I lived on organic farms in Lebanon.
It's interesting to read this and consider that there may be some ancillary benefits to living in a big city:
Generally speaking, studies have shown that city dwellers, who frequent public transportation, occupy smaller-than-average and multiunit living spaces, use less energy to heat and cool, tend to have lower carbon footprints than their suburban or rural counterparts, who often have bigger homes, use more energy to heat and cool, and typically drive themselves to and fro.
A 2008 report by the Brookings Institution, for example, found that the average American in a metropolitan area has a carbon footprint of 8.21 tons — 14 percent less than the average American living outside the city.
The flip side is that lately, I've become more and more sensitive to the smell of exhaust in New York. In day to day city living, you rarely think about the smell of air, but when you do, it's somewhat alarming to realize how much fouler it is than country air.
From an Antarctic research base to the Great Pyramids of Egypt and beyond, the world switched off the lights on Saturday for Earth Hour, dimming skyscrapers, city streets and some of the world's most recognizable monuments for 60 minutes to highlight the threat of climate change. Time zone by time zone, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries joined the event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to dim nonessential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The latest deadline set by the Nigerian government to stop flaring natural gas from oil wells in the Niger Delta has passed without stopping the flames, which campaigners say are poisoning local people. "Sometimes you can't tell whether it's the dawn breaking or the flame," says activist Vivian Bellonwu, the frustration clear in her voice, after seeing nothing change despite the 1 January target. "It's a history of shifting goal posts, missing deadline after deadline". Everyone agrees gas flaring wastes billions of dollars in useful gas. Campaigners say it causes huge environmental damage and according to doctors, it is responsible for causing chronic health problems among people who live in the Delta.This seems like one of those priorities that you shouldn't exactly keep letting deadlines pass.
U.S. President George W. Bush might be going down as the greatest protector of the seas ever. Later today, he is to announce the establishment of the "largest area of protected sea in the world." Commercial fishing and mining will be largely prohibited in protected zones of the remote Pacific that include some of the most biologically diverse locations on Earth.Some critics' heads may be spinning between the administration's countervailing ocean protection and the air pollution, but mine is still turned seaward. If Bush were so committed to protecting ocean life (not to mention securing more fishing and oil rights), why oh why did he not push harder for the United States to ratify the law of the sea convention? With what other agreement could you find President Bush tucked in with environmentalist and oil industrialist bedfellows? (image from flickr user Eric M Martin under a Creative Commons license)
The Brazilian government announced this week that it will curb Amazon deforestation by 70 percent over the next decade--an ambitious plan that will be formally presented at the UN climate change conference in Poland this week. Home to the world's largest area of tropical woodlands, Brazil lost nearly 4,633 square miles of forest between 2007 and 2008. That's roughly the area of Connecticut. Previous efforts to limit deforestation include a recent crackdown on soy production. Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the plan should prevent 4.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted through 2018.I like my soy and all, but I certainly prefer air without 4.8 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide. (image from flickr user gidsicki under a Creative Commons license)
The president, a human rights activist who swept to power in elections last month after ousting Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the man who once imprisoned him, said he had already broached the idea with a number of countries and found them to be "receptive". He said Sri Lanka and India were targets because they had similar cultures, cuisines and climates. Australia was also being considered because of the amount of unoccupied land available. "We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades," he said.For more on the consequences of climate change to small island states check out this video from Go Green Tube.