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What Cities Need

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What Cities Need

Our world is changing—there is no doubt about it. There are seven billion people on our planet right now and over the next 60 years that number will jump to roughly nine billion. More than half of those nine billion will be living in a city. Meanwhile, the population of the United States currently sits around 315 million people—about 250 million of them live in or around an urban area. That means more than three-quarters of us share a paltry three percent of land area.

If those numbers don’t worry you, you’re not paying attention. As our society grows larger and more crowded, there are questions we must answer. How can we reduce pollutants in the air, clean and maintain our water supplies, protect ourselves from storms and hurricanes, and help our growing cities remain hospitable and affordable?

The answer is simple: nature.

Everywhere we look, nature is working on our behalf. Consider this: Urban trees and forests reduce smog and keep rivers healthy by absorbing nutrients that spoil water quality. Their root systems bind with soil to prevent erosion and minimize flooding. Large swaths of green space in urban areas also help mitigate stormwater runoff; that’s a major problem for some East Coast cities, where outdated infrastructure is often inundated during heavy rainstorms. As a result, pipes overflow and untreated sewage runs into surrounding waterways.

As we contemplate problems like stormwater management and pollution, we must realize that our success in solving them lies in our ability to think creatively. For example, most of us agree that smart urban growth involves a thoughtfulness about native wildlife and sensitive areas. But why not start working with what we already have? Let’s use existing vacant lots and rights of way to create urban green spaces and plant trees. More green space not only benefits air and water, but leads to a more diverse mix of wildlife, prettier cityscapes and a happier, less stressed population.

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Read more: Environment, Green, Nature, , , , , ,

by Laura Huffman, The Nature Conservancy

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57 comments

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4:04PM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

I strongly support Nature Conservancy

10:19AM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

How about for people to be a little bit more kind, friendly & smile a bit more!? I think that would be a good start.

10:20AM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

No more people...please.

9:40PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Cities definitely need more "green space".

4:24PM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

Thank you for this interesting post. All cities should plan 'green' areas, plant more trees, and think of suggesting to high rise builders to have garden areas on the roof tops.

10:17AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

We do indeed need to 'start where we are' and since big corporations are a fact of life, that means including them in the solution. There are always new people going into them and older ones coming out. Educating kids on how their behavior impacts everything around them, and the importance of limiting their family size to 2 kids so lets not assume the population will keep growing.And just because trees will clean the air better than stack scrubbers does not mean it's okay to keep useing coal. No more new plants and invent ways to use the old ones to produce clean energy. And for the suspicious types, how about you guys be the watch dogs to make sure the old energy giants keep moving in the right direction ? We can DO this!

6:56AM PDT on Mar 23, 2013

disturbing the natural balance is the issue

11:09PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

...and fewer people. Big, overcrowded cities need fewer people.

10:18PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Thanks for the info.

6:12PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

thank you

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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