Suffering from list fatigue
People love reading about places that are worse off than where they live. That's why there's so many lists ranking cities for various things.
Thu, Feb 01, 2007 at 12:30 AM
We love lists as much as the next blogger, but we must admit that lately, we’ve been suffering from list fatigue. Every few weeks, it seems, there’s another report telling us stuff we already know about where we live—and where we don’t live.
The latest list, compiled by Earthday Network, ranks U.S. cities according to their “environmental quality of life.” There are few surprises. Low scorers include (don’t let the suspense kill you) Detroit, Houston, and Cleveland, while old eco faves Portland, Oregon and Colorado Springs earn top spots.
Call it pollution porn, smog schadenfreude — whatever. It all boils down to the same thing: People love reading about places that are worse off than where they live. And we here at Plenty are no different. In our Times Square offices, it’s pretty hard to ignore all the carbon-spewing traffic in the city, but hey, at least we have more parks and recreational space than El Paso.
The other problem with lists like these is that they’re far too broad to give credit where credit is due. Environmental activists in particularly un-green urban areas deserve props — probably more props than activists in cities that already have an established green scene.
A quick Google search for environmental advocacy groups in the Houston area, for example, led us to The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N., which seems to be a pretty cool grassroots coalition dedicated to recycling, conservation, eco-education, and a whole host of other environmental goodies. We’re guessing that The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. was probably not too shocked to learn of Houston’s abysmal placement on the Earthday Network’s list. But we’re also guessing they’re just too busy improving the region to spend much time pouting about their ranking.
Story by Alisa Opar. This article originally appeared in Plenty in February 2007. This story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.