Op-ed pick: Are cities the key to containing climate change?

Today on the show, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, mentioned that cities are at the forefront of governmental and societal change. An article in Scientific American ponders whether they should also be considered the front line of the climate-change battle.

Suburban sprawl has helped U.S. emissions balloon in the last few decades. “Urban expansion on the scale the world is going to experience is going to require more land,” argued economist Paul Romer of New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Any strategy based on containment is just doomed to failure.”

But providing incentives for people to remain close to the metropolitan core, such as better public transportation, can help minimize the impact of city size on surrounding rural land. China is currently building 40 different metro lines in 40 different cities, each one covering roughly 1,000 kilometers, said Jonathan Woetzel, a director at consultancy McKinsey & Company’s Cities Special Initiative. “One single act of infrastructure creates opportunities for new lives, new choices for 50 [million] to 100 million people” as well as cutting down on the demand for cars, roadways and their attendant pollution in the world’s most populous country.

A 2008 photo of Sydney shows the urban sprawl along the eastern seaboard as Australia’s population continues to climb above 21 million inhabitants. Experts warn that the Australian government has little chance of meeting its  greenhouse emission-reduction targets if growth continues at its current rate. (TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

Read the whole article here.