In Florida, 600 tons of dead fish piled up on the beaches. In the western United States, droughts contributed to forest fires that caused air quality warnings thousands of kilometers away. The very first heat warning was issued in normally humid and temperate Britain. Record rainfall in China led to fatal floods. Each of these events happened in a matter of days last week and was likely fueled by climate change.
One way to make a difference on a personal level is to give up your fossil fuel car. Traffic is responsible for about 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which reports that doing without just one car would save about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment each year.
Of course, in some places it is easier to drive car-free than in others. A recent study by LawnStarter compared the 150 largest US cities to see which are best (and worst) for a life without a car. The results were based on metrics related to walking, cycling, commuting, safety (e.g.
San Francisco, while ranked 81st among 150 cities for safety, came out on top largely because of its mild climate and high commuter values (and despite its challenging hills). In fact, cities on the west coast took four of the top 10 spots, with their mild climates helping to move the needle.
Shreveport, La., Came last with the lowest safety rating in the bunch. Like many southern cities, it suffered in the rankings from a humid climate, inhospitable for walking or cycling, and a poor commuter system. It wasn't the hottest, however: five Arizona cities – Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler, Phoenix, and Gilbert – ranked in this category, outperforming all other cities with their number of days in excess of 90 degrees. (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Freemont, California, along with Seattle, have the fewest days over 90 degrees.)
Washington, D.C. was considered the best way to commute and the best of times, which helped him climb to third place. Portland, Oregon ranked second thanks to its access score, which rewarded cities for having greater numbers of cyclists, hikers, and carpoolers.
This week's chart, based on LawnStarter's study, shows the top and bottom 10 cities for car-free living.
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