Urbanization is on the rise around the world. By 2050, some 70 percent of humanity will live in the cities and that is good news for the environment. Many of the environmental advantages are derived from living spaces being condensed. For example, electricity use per person in cities is lower than electricity use per person in the suburbs and rural areas.
Condensed living space that creates reduction in energy use also allows for more of the natural environment to be preserved. In a suburban or rural environment, private properties are spread out, because land values are relatively low. So, more of the natural environment is destroyed. In cities, property values are higher and space is used more efficiently. That means that more people live in the same square mile of land than in the rural areas. Another environmental advantage of cities compared to rural areas is a decrease in carbon emissions per person. In a rural or suburban area people normally use their own vehicles to drive to work or anywhere else. Due to congestion, the use of personal cars in the city is much less attractive. More people use public transportation instead and that means that less carbon dioxide gets released into the atmosphere.
The first appeared in Cato at Liberty.
Marian L. Tupy is a senior policy analyst at the Cato Institute and editor of HumanProgress.org.