NPR’s Morning Edition recently featured an excellent two part series on the aggregate effects of our living decisions on the environment.
The stories hit hard from the angle that suburbia increases per capita carbon footprint while denser, urban living offers significantly lower per capita carbon footprint. Yes!
Here’s the underlying important point: living in denser areas can INCREASE quality of life while DECREASING our impact on the environment. Wow, a win, win?
So, what’s the problem? It takes a coordinated partnership between centralized government and private developers to create these desirable dense urban areas. It doesn’t happen by itself. As seen in Atlanta’s sprawl, if left to private developers with minimal government intrusion, suburbia will continue expanding.
Here’s a dose of crazy: what if suburban housing prices didn’t properly take these cost of living issues into account? (That is, what if the value of suburban real estate didn’t take into account the cost of living decrease caused by significant commute time and energy costs?) What if, in addition to our current short-term housing pricing adjustment, suburban real estate will have a long-term trend downward (or, at least, not upward) relative to urban real estate? This downward pressure will only increase as energy prices continue to rise.
- Part 1 – “Life in the ‘Burbs: Heavy Costs for Families, Climate”
- Part 2 – “Atlanta Family Slashes Carbon Footprint”
BONUS: Related, check out this NYTimes story about New York’s continuing love affair with cars despite increasing energy costs and an impending congestion fee near city center.