Tackling Climate Change Through Density

Increasing mileage standards will do little to measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In order to seriously tackle climate change we need to ditch the cars, and the development patterns they encourage, and move to walkable places.

In an exceprt from his new book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, Jeff Speck addresses the connection between density, walkability, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

"It turns out that trading all of your incandescent lightbulbs for energy savers conserves as much carbon per year as living in a walkable neighborhood does each week," observes Speck. "Why, then, is the vast majority of our national conversation on sustainability about the former and not the latter?"

"Places should be judged not by how much carbon they emit, but by how much carbon they cause us to emit. There are only so many people in the United States at any given time, and they can be encouraged to live where they have the smallest environmental footprint. That place turns out to be the city - the denser the better."

"Quality of life - which includes both health and wealth - may not be a function of our ecological footprint, but the two are deeply interrelated. To wit, if we pollute so much because we are throwing away our time, money, and lives on the highway, then both problems would seem to share a single solution, and that solution is to make our cities more walkable. Doing so is not easy, but it can be done, it has been done, and indeed it is being done in more than a few places at this very moment."

Full Story: Stop climate change: Move to the city, start walking


Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."