Another criticism of low-density residential development concerns its impact on the environment. Increased development, according to critics, means more pollution, more congestion, and the degradation of natural resources. The alternative — higher density compact development — would mitigate these impacts, they claim.

The environmental benefits of compact development, however, are suspect, as discussed in Part V. But on the surface, critics of economic growth and development seem to make a valid point: If people live further away from central cities and their workplaces, they will have to spend more time in their cars. Since cars pollute, low-density development should increase air pollution.