The 'One-Planet City'

Planning student Jennie Moore is going a step beyond the 'ecological footprint' model, and is researching what she calls the 'one-planet city'.

"...Jennie starts with the premise that the city, currently conceived as an isolated unit of human population, is inherently unsustainable. She says:

Cities are basically concentrated hubs of trade and consumption. From a thermodynamics and complex systems theory standpoint, cities are dissipative structures – they consume materials and energy and produce waste. They're dependent on surrounding ecosystems; they can't function within their own geographical boundaries. However, cities are also hubs of organizational capacity. So my research asks at what scale, at what point does a city exceed its share of global ecological carrying capacity and how could that impact be reduced?

Her investigation into the notion of a one planet city is informed in part by "One Planet Living Communities" such as BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development), an eco-village in the UK. But unlike these new, "clean slate" communities that are constructed to be models of ecological sustainability, Jennie Moore's one planet city concept deals with the more challenging fabric of existing cities – specifically those in the developed world, i.e. North America, Europe, Japan, etc. North American cities, for example, generally have ecological footprints so high that if everyone were to live like the average citizen of these cities, 4 or 5 planets would be required to sustain their levels of consumption and waste production."

Full Story: Conceptualizing the One Planet City

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