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December 17, 2006

Richard Florida

Too much city?

« Mayor players | Main | Home is where the art is »

Rifkin 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?


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Please note that the link to the Rifkin piece is not operable at this time.


Matt - Thanks. Just redid that link.


In the past couple of months, I've had the opportunity to think -- even more than I normally do -- about places to live. My Canadian wife and I sold our home in Spokane, Washington and have been traveling in Western Canada. We spent 5 weeks on Cortes Island (pop. 900 in the off season) and are now spending some time in Victoria, BC. On the (small) island, we had to drive to do almost anything. While here in Victoria, we have gotten in the car only a time or two. Both places have the potential for creativity. The real problem with cities -- and everything else -- is the size of our footprints. I calculated our footprint (www.myfootprint.org) here in Victoria and found it to be 1.4 times what is sustainable. This is living in less than 500 s.f., driving one car (1992/30mpg) infrequently, and eating almost no meat. The Dalai Lama is attributed with saying that the solution to the overpopulation problem is more monks. We have to create a culture where it is acceptable not to have offspring and to live lightly on the land -- and be creative and have fun at the same time. It can be done.

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