Love, Hate, Sustain New York City – Sustain
This is the first Sustain article in a mini-series focused on sustainability and New York. Sustain Investing is a platform to invest in companies that do good for the world.
Love and hate create a unique tension that compels citizens to strive forward, creating progress for humanity.
On a summer day a walk through Central Park can be magical — 1.3 square miles, or roughly 4% of Manhattans surface area transforms into a green wonderland. The breeze rustles trees while diverse sets of people exercise, escort dogs, picnic, play volleyball — happiness and enjoyment are palpable in the air. Love.
Taking a step out of the park, and one is hit by an array of gargantuan buildings that tower over us humans like dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. These buildings contribute to 40% of New York City’s carbon emissions. These emissions threaten our climate, which is slowly changing. As a result, storms will increase in frequency and intensity, leaving 37% of lower Manhattan at risk by 2050 — including Chinatown, Soho, Tribeca, FiDi, and the West Village (amongst other neighborhoods). Hate.
With a jaunt to the west side highway, one might find themselves grabbing a Citi Bike (owned in part by Lyft) to ride southward on a picturesque bike lane that overlooks the Hudson River. Although some do swim in this river, park officials still advise against it. Biking in NYC, one of the most sustainable forms of transit, continues to grow in popularity. New York has added 45 miles of protected bike lanes in the last two years to grow its overall network to 1,217 miles — one of the largest in the country. Love.
At night, subways and cabs are more typical transportation options, although the subways have not been updated for the growing population of the city, and taxi drivers have been exploited by perverse, opaque, and predatory loan structures. In recent years, ride-hailing service companies have made transit a bit more convenient. On the other hand drivers continue to protest their low pay, as recently as this May, while the companies protest the government’s calls to raise wages. In addition, these companies have had the indirect effect of decreasing the use of public transit, increasing congestion and vehicle miles travelled, and consequentially raising the city’s carbon footprint and contribution to climate change. Transportation accounts for ~18% of NYC’s carbon emissions. Hate.
Many of us love and hate New York City for various reasons . The internal conflict breeds attraction and wonder, and compels us — particularly those of us originally from somewhere else — to stay for longer than imagined and proudly call this place home. People around the globe aspire to come to this city, a sea of opportunity that can simultaneously underwhelm and overwhelm. It’s important to realize that the city is vulnerable, as we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere at growing rates, storms more severe than Sandy threaten to take away what we so dearly love and hate.
Let’s work together to understand the influence companies have on our city, and discover ways that we, as collective owners of these companies, can influence them to do better. Let’s learn to fix what we hate and keep what we love. Let’s Sustain New York!