There's no doubt that I live a "greener" life in Brooklyn than I did while living in crunchy granola Boulder the previous year. Of course, I already miss Colorado's vistas, the fox bounding past our spacious abode in the glorious foothills, and most of all, the house's washer/dryer. But the one thing I don't miss is having to jump in my car several times a day for life's basic tasks. Back in Brooklyn, all our family needs can be met within walking distance, from doctor visits and food shopping to school drop-offs and yes, laundry. This is not to shortchange those in Boulder who are honestly striving to leave a lighter carbon footprint. Many green-minded Boulderites are religious about biking. Even in the snow. (They also think they own the streets; big mistake when a New Yorker comes to town.) That said, I think Witold Rybczynski in The Atlantic has nailed this:
The problem in the sustainability campaign is that a basic truth has been lost, or at least concealed. Rather than trying to change behavior to actually reduce carbon emissions, politicians and entrepreneurs have sold greening to the public as a kind of accessorizing. Keep doing what you're doing, goes the message. Just add a solar panel, a wind turbine, a hybrid engine, whatever. But a solar-heated house in the burbs is still a house in the burbs, and if you have to drive to it, even in a Prius, it's hardly green.