Thursday, June 16, 2011

Against urban farms

Good environmentalism is smart environmentalism that thinks through the total systemic impacts of any change. Farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls. ...

The National Highway Travel Survey teaches us that when densities drops in half, holding fixed location within the metropolitan area, households buy about 107 gallons more gas per year. ... Together, the increased gas consumption from moving less than a tenth of agricultural farmland into metropolitan areas would generate an extra 1.77 tons of carbon dioxide [per household] per year, which is 1.77 times the greenhouse gases produced by all food transportation and almost four and a half times the carbon emissions associated with food delivery. ...

Urban farms mean less people per acre which in turn means longer drives and more gasoline consumption. Shipping food is just far less energy intensive than moving people. If the First Lady wants to help the environment, she should campaign for high rise apartments, rather than plant vegetables.
--Ed Glaeser, Boston Globe, on moving food, not people