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Why Environmentalists Should Come Out of the Woods
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Why Environmentalists Should Come Out of the Woods


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The best place for an environmentalist to live is in the city. If you love nature, stay away from it.

The best place for an environmentalist to live is in the city. If you love nature, stay away from it.

Published in: News & Politics, Technology

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  • 1.  
  • 2.
    • “ If you want to take good care of the environment, stay away from it and live in cities.” Edward L. Glaeser
  • 3.
    • That might be an odd notion. We like to be close to the things we love.
  • 4.
    • Environmentalists like to be close to nature.
  • 5.
    • Indeed there’s a long-held misconception in the U.S., perhaps beginning with Thoreau, that we can effectively live among the trees, interspersed with nature.
  • 6.
    • But there are almost 7 billion of us. If we all moved closer to nature, there would be no nature, only us.
  • 7.
    • Nature is vanishing.
    • To restore it, we need to live closer, travel less, sustain ourselves by growing and producing closer to home and occupying less space.
  • 8.
    • Approximately 20% of North American forests have been permanently cleared for agriculture and other uses. 
    • Currently, forest cover is stable, however, in most of the lower 48 states and southern Canada, remaining forests have experienced significant human disturbance and do not possess the same degree of ecological integrity as the original forest.
  • 9.
    • According to one estimate, stands of century-old forest now account for only 7% of forest cover in the United States.
  • 10.
    • Farms and our food supply are also threatened.
  • 11.
    • It is estimated that 570,000 hectares of rural land was converted to urban uses between 1982 and 1992.
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resource Conservation Service
  • 12.
    • You might have heard the phrase “killing with kindness.” It’s not likely the intention, but we destroy nature when we come too close to it.
  • 13.
    • Living in nature means we need to drive more.
    • In many cases it means we want our friends to live in nature too.
    • Only then might we notice where there was nature, there is only us.
  • 14.
    • “ If you would be known, and not know,
    • vegetate in a village;
    • if you would know and not be known, live in a city .”
    • Charles Caleb Colton
  • 15.
    • Suburban residents may be closer to more greenery, but city residents are “greenest” in terms of energy use.
  • 16.
    • David Owen, writing in the New Yorker , commented that New York City is more populous than all but eleven states; if it were granted statehood it would rank fifty-first in per-capita energy use.
  • 17.
    • Imagine if New Yorkers, all 8 million of us, abandoned the city and moved out yonder.
    • If we all lived on a one-acre lot, we would occupy a space half the size of Maine.
  • 18.
    • That would make for a very big carbon footprint!
  • 19.
    • Residents of metro areas have smaller partial carbon footprints than the average American.
    • The average metro area resident’s partial carbon footprint (2.24 metric tons) in 2005 was only 86 percent of the average American’s partial footprint (2.60 metric tons).
  • 20.
    • The difference owes primarily to less car travel and residential electricity use.
    • (Brookings Institution)
  • 21.
    • It’s not entirely about big city vs. small town or suburb, however.
  • 22.
    • It’s about density.
    • Whether in metro areas or small towns, the higher-density development have smaller transportation and residential carbon footprints.
    • (Brookings Institution)
  • 23.
    • Low-density metro areas such as Nashville and
    • Oklahoma City are prominent among the 10 largest per capita carbon emitters.
  • 24.
    • “ Environmentalists should make good urbanists, since they understand systems, diversity, connectivity and interdependence .”
    • Caryl Terrell
  • 25.
    • So…
    • Come out of the woods…
    • Be a New Colonist
    • MOVE IN!
  • 26. STOP! Don’t print this, email it to all your friends… Be a New Colonist… visit