Eustace Conway: Naturalist and founder of The Turtle Island Preserve

Living in the country, because it allows you to be more aware of how your actions affect the natural world. If you live in a city, then you lack the education, connection, and awareness of how you fit into the natural environment. You’re removed, and that can break down your depth of understanding and love. Separation from the environment, from seeing how you participate in the big picture day-to-day, is one of the most devastating problems that we have on this continent to date. 

John Hickenlooper: Mayor of Denver

Living in a dense area with transit infrastructure uses less energy for heating homes and traveling, leaving a smaller environmental footprint. In this regard, Manhattan is the greenest place on earth. It’s serendipitous that the urbanization of the world is happening just as we encounter issues of sustainability throughout society. We have a unique opportunity to move in directions that leave a legacy of economic opportunity, environmental health and genuine sustainability for future generations.

Jules Pretty: Author of Agri-culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature

I’d like to sit on the fence. Both urban and rural contexts can provide for sustainable forms of living. There is evidence to show that contact with the natural environment and green space promotes good health and mental well-being, but this is independent of the type of green space. Nearby nature (that we find in cities) and countryside and wilderness (that we find in rural areas) are both good for us. The important thing is getting out into nature. It makes us well, and increases the likelihood that we’ll act responsibly.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2007. This story was added to in June 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2007.