I can find Simon Jenkins a bit reactionary and strident sometimes (strange given he also writes for the Guardian). But I thought he made some interesting pointsin last night's Standard about the environmental argument for city living (vs. building on/living in the country), in terms of energy use and pollution per person.
"We should use more intensively the land area that is already built over, and not spread new settlement across virgin acres of carbon-rich countryside, wherever they may be.
New settlements, however many times you prefix them with "eco-", are all carbon belchers. They are low density and require high mobility to service them.
Most people think of cities as ecological disaster areas, seething swamps of concrete and tarmac, fuming traffic and throbbing central heating. (Whereas) Greens are seen as inhabiting a virtuous Hobbit-state of woodland cottages, where people dig potatoes, sing folksongs and cycle everywhere...
...(But) Londoners...use space intensively and energy efficiently. They mostly occupy long-constructed buildings, sharing walls, roofs, ceilings and heating systems with others. They also share transport, street lights and entertainment. They walk, cycle or use public transport (mostly electric) to get to work or play. Londoners crowd roads, shops, restaurants, theatres, pubs. They communicate with each other without having to take long journeys.
They do not heat, light and cook in isolated homesteads, where almost every journey requires the carbon emissions of an internal combustion engine."
Now there are obviously environmental and social negatives a plenty to do with city living that Jenkins chooses to ignore. And he is talking about a certain kind of city - London or New York rather than Mexico City or Beijing. But I think he makes some useful points that dovetail well with trends like urban farming.
That said, I have always been and remain an outdoors type and country boy who has never lived in the Big City, with a desire to move to the West Country as soon as is reasonable, where I shall, in Simon's mind, increase my carbon footprint.
When not surfing. Or feeding my chickens ;o)