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Do more people produce more C02?

Original post made by Responsible Resident on Apr 19, 2007

Is it not the case that there is a direct, positive correlation between urban density and its carbon footprint? Is it not the case that as Menlo Park's housing and therefore population increases, we make an ever larger contribution to greenhouse gasses, consume more resources such as water and power, increase vehicular traffic, and through development construction itself utilize energy-intensive construction materials and burn larger quantities of polluting fossil fuel?

Just wondering.

Comments (7)

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Posted by I love cities
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Not being an expert in statistics or whatever, I'd say your premise that more people means more CO2, while a truism, needs leavening. The problem might be stated as "What is the best way to house people without getting into questions of who has a right to live in one place or another?"

Urban living, with its encouragement of walking and mass transit, is probably much more efficient in greenhouse gas production than suburban living. When you can't get around by walking or taking the subway, you have to drive. That's inherently inefficient. When a store can't handle its business in bulk, as in a city location with lots of customers, that's got to be an inefficent way of doing things. Suburban living is a luxury that we can't afford.


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Posted by Not an ideologue
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 20, 2007 at 12:46 pm

IF we had decent mass transit. And we don't. We don't have space for it. We don't have money for it. We just have advocates of dense "transit oriented" housing who insist that the mass transit will magically appear if we pack enough people into a tight enough space.

Reality check: no matter how dense the housing, most of the occupants will still have cars. And although those people may have the best intentions to use mass transit--assuming they can find a job that is within a reasonable distance of a train station or near one of the few buslines in the area--as soon as they switch jobs or schools, those intentions will go by the wayside.

I agree with the original poster.




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Posted by Suburbanite
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Apr 20, 2007 at 2:04 pm

I like living in suburbia, especially in a town like ours that doesn't sprawl and where it's relatively easy to get to downtown or a shopping center without a car (I know those in Sharon Heights and Belle Haven will disagree), and to grow produce and flowers.

What really worries me is that those who promote higher density aren't also promoting the green spaces and supporting infrastructure to support it every step of the way. Without that infrastructure (transit, schools, parks, water) within our town, more CO2 will be spent transporting people and things longer distances to and fro. Even more energy will be expended with those vehicles stuck in our ever-worsening traffic.


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Posted by Fuzzy Green Logic
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 20, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Yep, by preventing more people from living in Menlo Park, you're being totally eco-friendly. Because shifting the burden of housing people to another town means that the environmental impacts of those people just disappear. Genius idea!


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Posted by Suburbanite
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Apr 20, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Fuzzy - we can manage environmental impacts within our own town and I wish our city would start. The green task force might help.

How do you propose to create more parks in a built-out city? More schools? More water lines? Do you really want us to plow under our gardens and parks to provide housing for the never ending demand for more? Who is willing to give up their land? Are you?


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Posted by Fuzzy Green Logic
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 23, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Suburbanite: You raise an excellent question that everyone should ask him/herself: What am I willing to give up in order to make the environment healthier?

I seem to have missed the part in this discussion where someone suggested eradicating all zoning laws and building high-rise condos in people's yards and public parks. I'm quite sure that idea didn't come from me, and I know that's not what infill development means.

I have to ask: by not providing adequate housing for people who work in Menlo Park to live in Menlo Park, how is that improving the environment and reducing traffic? By ensuring that firefighters and police continue to drive here from Grass Valley and teachers and store clerks continue to commute from the East Bay?

Is there some plan to build a dome over Menlo Park to keep the rabble and their emmissions out of our town? Just keeping Menlo Park clean and green isn't enough. We're all connected -- I think that's one of the key tenets of environmentalism.

What you're proposing doesn't sound like a way to keep Menlo Park eco-friendly. It sounds like an elitist NIMBY plan to foist off our housing obligations on surrounding communities.


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Posted by Not fuzzy at all
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 23, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Fuzzy, the core of your argument is that pollution is created by people driving into Menlo Park to work here, and that we can solve that problem by packing this town full of high-density housing.

In point of fact, Fuzzy, no one is keeping anyone out of Menlo Park. The people who commute here from outlying cities do so for one main reason: they prefer the quality of life they have in those communities. They don't want to give up their 4-bedroom homes with pools for 900 sq foot studios on the train tracks. Can you blame them?

On the flipside, most of us who live in Menlo Park do not work in this city. Why not? Because, unless you are part of the venture capital/hedge fund/private equity clique, there aren't many jobs for your typical Menlo Park mortagee. And with the current focus on developing high density housing in areas formerly zoned commercial, the likelihood of residents finding jobs here dwindles even further.

So, by emphasizing the development of dense housing above all other kinds of growth, you're creating more pollution from those of us residents who increasingly need to commute out of town to work. I understand that the fuzzy green folk would rather overlook that piece of the puzzle.

A lot of us are sick of the N-word, and truly, I think it's losing its effectiveness as a one-size-fits-all zapper, especially when used by narrowminded zealots or developers. We don't have "housing obligations;" rather, we have an obligation to maintain the vitality of our community and to focus our growth in a sustainable direction. Housing is a piece of the solution, but must be considered with the other variables, something that the fuzzy folks often fail to do.

Finally, if we all need to come together as a community and sacrifice our quality of life for the greater good, where is Atherton in this picture? You could put at least 100 homes on each of those ten acre lots. Or is this sacrifice to be limited to the middle class while the nabobs on Fair Oaks Lane remain unscathed?


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