A series of articles I wrote for TreeHugger that I think are perhaps the best I have done:
Writer David Owen argues in his book The Green Metropolis that to solve some of the energy issues, urban planners need to make suburbs more like New York City. But is that really more energy efficient? Looking at it more closely, it turns out that we don't all have to live in Manhattan or Mumbai to make genuine improvements in energy efficiency and reduce our oil usage. It turns out plenty of smaller, medium density cities, such as those found in Europe and Australia, do much better. Read the full article.
Working on a post for our Minus Oil series, looking at the relationship of oil, cars and urban design, I keep circling around a post Alex Steffen of Worldchanging wrote two and a half years ago: My Other Car Is A Bright Green City." Alex describes how he was presenting to a group of Tesla engineers and designers and noted that "I thought the Roadster, though undoubtedly cool, went nowhere near far enough to be called sustainable." Read the full article
Matt has noted that almost three quarters of our oil goes for transportation, and concludes that we have to create "more communities where the average person's daily needs are met on foot, on non-motorized vehicle and via public transportation." But is there proof that this actually works? Does it mean that we have to turn all of our cities into Manhattan or Copenhagen?
No, we don't. We don't have to create new communities and put everybody in a passivhaus. Our existing cities and buildings can work just fine; You just have to chose the right place in it. Read the full article.
Michael Pollan says that if you eat a typical American diet, you are made of corn. Dale Allen Pfeiffer takes it one step further, and says We are Eating Fossil Fuels. (Actually, Jaymi points out that Michael Pollan says that too.)
But whenever one discusses the idea that buying local food saves fuel, the naysayers show up. After all, there is the study from New Zealand's Lincoln University that proved New Zealand lamb transported to the UK to have a carbon footprint of only 688 kg per tonne shipped, vs the purported 2,849 kg footprint of UK raised lamb. (They evidently use a lot less fertilizer and feed in New Zealand). Read the full article.
A few years ago, Wired Magazine published an interesting map showing carbon footprint per capita that graphically demonstrated the obvious: Where you get sprawl, lots of cars and air conditioning, you get a much bigger footprint for every citizen due to their higher energy consumption. So if we want to reduce our footprint and get off oil, what is the best thing for Americans to do?
Move to Buffalo. Read the full article.
Katherine Salant writes in the Washington Post:
Can a big house be green? Yes, but a smaller house will always be greener because fewer resources were used in its construction and less energy is needed to heat and cool it.
It is certainly a point we have been discussing on TreeHugger for years, and it is great to see it in the Post, even if we would have answered no to the question. But it also raises another important question: how do you measure green, and how do we determine our fossil fuel footprint? Read the full article.