I finished reading David Owen's Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability a week or so ago, and I keep meaning to write this review, but I keep leaving the book in my office and I wanted to quote from it. Well, the library wants their book back, so I'll have to get along without quoting. Suffice to say that Mr. Owen gets it. The future of our society lies not in everyone rushing out into that off-the-grid home in the middle of nowhere, it does not lie in urban farming or backyard composting, it does not lie in McMansions covered in solar panels and small-scale windmills. No, the future of our society lies in urban density, and the efficiencies of scale that result.
Owen deftly links the automobile to urban sprawl, and vice versa, and clearly lays out the disastrous environmental consequences of both. He excoriates much of the modern environmental movement, with their Thoreauian obsession with open space and living among nature, and demonstrates that places like Amory Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute indicate a decidedly anti-urbanist bias that pervades environmental organizations. He shows just how sustainable big cities (most notably Manhattan, New York City, NY) really are, despite the common perception of them as "environmental nightmares". He does this all in a way that makes these important social lessons very accessible to the reader, and for all these reasons I highly recommend that you grab a copy of his book. It's available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in both dead-tree and digital (Kindle & Nook) formats, and can be requested via Link+ by Riverside Public Library patrons.