Forget moving back to the land, we need to move back down the block.
The idyllic faux country house of the suburb is basically a farce. Back to nature, not really when getting to and from nature relies on an automobile. Any notion that being environmental with CFLs, hybrids, biodegradable detergents basically gets negated in that given land use and transportation you just can't win. That's what I read from an article in the New York Times (what else, my local California paper -- you think I'm kidding they quote someone from Belmont, CA which a good friend of mine lives). Suburbanites use more energy and produce CO2 than city dwellers. For instance this graphic below from the article:
More troubling is that suburban life espouses a philosophy, what do you find attractive.
But the problem with suburbs, many environmentalists say, is not an issue of light bulbs. In the end, the very things that make suburban life attractive — the lush lawns, spacious houses and three-car garages — also disproportionally contribute to global warming. Suburban life, these environmentalists argue, is simply not sustainable.
I don't think it's so cut and dry, with proper zoning the suburbs can blend the two. Local supermarkets and daily business can offset the senseless driving that goes along. Intelligent mass transit can probably reduce the commute congestion. The damage from lawns and 5000 sq ft, may not be so difficult, but reducing the average square footage is entirely doable.
The city wins, but that's because the suburbs are just so out of whack. Progress can be made.