Nachhaltige Städte

NEW YORK – Für die meisten Menschen sehen große, dicht besiedelte Städte wie ein ökologischer Alptraum aus: Ödland aus Beton und Müll mit Dieselabgasen und Verkehrsstaus. Doch verglichen mit anderen bewohnten Orten, sind Städte Musterbeispiele der Umweltverantwortlichkeit. Den wichtigsten Messkriterien zufolge ist New York die grünste Stadt in den Vereinigten Staaten, die einzige amerikanische Stadt, die sich den Umweltstandards annähert, die anderswo auf der Welt gesetzt werden.

Der durchschnittliche New Yorker erzeugt 7,1 t an Treibhausgasen pro Jahr; das ist mehr als der Durchschnittsschwede, der 5,6 t erzeugt, aber weniger als 30 % des US-Durchschnitts von 24,5 t. Die Einwohner von Manhattan, dem am dichtesten bevölkerten der fünf Stadtbezirke, erzeugen sogar noch weniger.

Der Schlüssel zu New Yorks relativer Umweltfreundlichkeit ist seine extreme Kompaktheit. Manhattans Bevölkerungsdichte beträgt ungefähr 26 000 Einwohner pro Quadratkilometer, ist also über 800-mal so hoch wie die der USA insgesamt und etwa 30-mal so hoch wie die von Los Angeles. Wenn Menschen enger aneinander wohnen, verringern sich dadurch die Entfernungen, die sie täglich zurücklegen müssen, und es begrenzt ihre Möglichkeiten zum rücksichtslosen Konsum; zudem zwingt es die meisten von ihnen dazu, in den von Natur aus energieeffizientesten Gebäuden der Welt zu wohnen: Wohnblöcken.

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