How “Green” is Manhattan?

I traveling today and back in the saddle tomorrow so here is a great debate about the "greenness" of cities vs. suburbs. 

First check out this editorial from Edward Glaeser contributor to The New York Times suggesting that New york City is more environmentally "green" than suburbia.

Now we know that the suburban environmentalists had it backwards. Manhattan, not suburbia, is the real friend of the environment. Those alleged nature lovers who live on multiacre estates surrounded by trees and lawn consume vast amounts of space and energy. If the environmental footprint of the average suburban home is a size 15 hiking boot, the environmental footprint of a New York apartment is a stiletto-heeled Jimmy Choo. Eight million New Yorkers use only 301 square miles, which comes to less than one-fortieth of an acre a person. Even supposedly green Portland, Ore., is using up more than six times as much land a person than New York.

Now read the rebuttal from Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution.  Be sure to read all the interesting comments too.

I get the point but I don’t quite buy this. Manhattan sells services, most notably finance and entertainment, to the rest of America, and in turns draws upon industrial outputs, which of course include steel and glass. It is also no accident that Gary, Indiana is near Chicago and those rather aesthetically thrilling factories off the New Jersey Turnpike are right outside New York City. Try the other boroughs as well, they don’t call Staten Island a big garbage dump for nothing. Praising Manhattan is a bit like looking only at the roof of a car and concluding it doesn’t burn much gas. Manhattan supports its density only by being surrounded by a broader load of crud.

An interesting debate indeed.

Be back tomorrow.

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