Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century

By Eugenie L. Birch; Susan M. Wachter | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Growing Greener Regions

ROBERT D. YARO AND DAVID M. KOORIS

In 2007, the population of the United States reached 300 million; that of the globe recently hit 6 billion. Climate change and ecological damage unparalleled in recent history echoed these milestones. Storms have become more erratic and extreme. The first plot of habitable land recently gave way to rising sea levels in coastal India. Deforestation, desertification, and sprawling development are drastically reducing the world’s biological diversity and available arable land. Global warming is no longer under dispute. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change links human behavior with higher land and ocean temperatures and rising sea levels over the past century and into the future (IPCC 2007). The greatest impetus for growing greener is thus the impending crises stemming from climate change.

Human activities are responsible for many of these ecological problems. For example, in America’s Appalachian region and other mining districts around the world, miners eliminated mountains, filled river valleys, and left gaping holes carved into the earth’s crust to reach the underlying natural resources. The use of fossil fuels for transport and manufacturing concentrates pollution in the air, oceans, animals, and, most worrisome, in those who use them and their children. Just as humans have created these problems, they can also relieve them by promoting greener patterns of growth. Most important, they can reduce the demand for energy through promoting green regional design to achieve a greater balance between the built and natural environments, curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Intervention at the regional scale is not only feasible but also necessary to counteract the dangers of climate change. In this essay we define the key aspects of green regional design. We then use the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area as a case study of the application of regional design, detailing its use in the creation of open space, transportation (and related land uses) and energy networks that frame an

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