Jeremy Rifkin, one of the smartest social and economic commentators around, has a fascinating new piece on cities in the Washington Post. He's rightly concerned about the impacts of increasing global urbanization on energy and the environment. But the forces of concentration and spikiness acting on our economic world are too strong to be reversed. It seems to me that the great challenge of our time is to build more livable and sustainable cities while protecting the natural world.
The coming year marks a great milestone in the human saga, a development similar in magnitude to the agricultural era and the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, a majority of human beings will be living in vast urban areas, many in megacities and suburban extensions with populations of 10 million or more, according to the United Nations. We have become "Homo Urbanus." ... In the great era of urbanization we have increasingly shut off the human race from the rest of the natural world in the belief that we could conquer, colonize and utilize the riches of the planet to ensure our autonomy without dire consequences to us and future generations. In the next phase of human history, we will need to find a way to reintegrate ourselves into the rest of the living Earth if we are to preserve our own species and conserve the planet for our fellow creatures. The rest is here (sub req).
What do you think?