An aerial view of New York City, which has a population of about 8.8 million people, has sparked conversation on Twitter about what living sustainably really means.
“If you live here you are not an environmentalist,” the Twitter-Blue subscriber, Culture Critic, tweeted alongside a photo showing what appears to be a cluttered, smoggy cityscape — the Big Apple.
The tweet has since attracted more than 4 million views.
If you live here you are not an environmentalist. pic.twitter.com/YQwuju21wa— Culture Critic (@Culture_Crit) March 11, 2023
But sometimes, photos don’t tell the full story. New York City, and urban living in general, can be far greener than you think.
When compared to other cities around the country, New York’s per-household output of dirty air ranks last on a list of 200 cities compiled on Lendingtree’s MagnifyMoney website.
“New York households had the smallest carbon footprint, emitting an annual average of just 5.38 metric tons of carbon dioxide,” MagnifyMoney noted.
In fact, some of the largest cities — Los Angeles and Chicago among them — ranked lower on the list than smaller ones, including Ogden, Utah, and Appleton, Wisconsin, with populations of fewer than 100,000 people. Transportation is a big factor when determining pollution output. Cities high on the list often have more vehicles in them.
New York Mayor Eric Adams’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice says that air quality is now better than it has been at any time in the last 50 years.
“Greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 19 percent from 2005 levels. We are but a few plantings away from the goal of a million new trees,” the office said.
The mayor is also touting improvements in the water, as well. With 500 miles of fixed-up sewers, officials claim the harbor is cleaner than it has been in a century.
The statistics provide some context to the photo of apparent smog hovering over New York. And, Culture Critic’s post has had a few critics of its own.
“I HATE to even do this I’m taking the bait but you’re looking at 2 million people who don’t drive and live in the smallest homes anywhere in the country lol,” a viewer responded.
Another tweet viewer has an alternative explanation for the haze over the city.
“Also … that’s fog,” they wrote. “I’ve yet to see significant smog in the city and I’ve been here for 15 years.”
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