Parking lot in NYC's West Village

If you live in a city where parking is scarce, you won't like hearing this. MIT Professor Eran Ben-Joseph has written a book titled Rethinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, and the gist is that the U.S. has far too many parking spaces.

Ben-Joseph estimates that there are 800 million parking spots across the U.S., taking up enough space to cover Puerto Rico in asphalt. In fact, Ben-Joseph says that many large cities have up to one third of their overall space dedicated to parking.

So what's wrong with a glut of parking lots? For starters, they're made of asphalt, which absorbs energy from the sun, which warms the ambient temperature. The lots also lead to faster water runoff, which hurts the ability of plants to remove toxins from the air.

The book doesn't paint parking lots in a positive light, but we're guessing there isn't much that will be done to change the issue, at least in the short term. We are, after all, a country of auto owners, and we need a place to park our four-wheeled friends. And it's not like we're going to replace open lots with a glut of parking structures, since those can cost four times as much money to build.