Saving the Earth One City at a Time

Richard Register argues that we can do much more to redesign cities and city functions to reduce energy consumption, primarily by ceasing to plan for automobiles.
May 13, 2009, 1pm PDT | Michael Dudley
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

"The concepts behind the ecocity are fairly simple...[but] a major difficulty in moving toward ecocities is that cars have influenced urban design for 100 years. Many of us caught in this infrastructure find it extremely difficult to get around in anything but the car. The distances are just too great for bicycles, the densities just too low to allow efficient, affordable transit.

It's possible to build ecocities, and we must do so if we are ever to solve the looming triple crisis of climate change, declining biodiversity, and dwindling fossil fuel energy.

Cities are 'whole systems' and function something like living organisms. Their main organs are linked together, complementing each other's services for the benefit of the whole and relating the whole to its environment in a way that could be of reciprocal benefit to all organs and the whole organism. The city's organs include structures for transportation, living, working, education, shopping, recreation, manufacturing, and distribution.

The whole organism of the city we've been constructing for the last 150 years has been built on the basis of linking functions through ever-lengthening strands of connection.

[Eco-cities] are the wave of the future - if we are smart enough to get to that future in one piece."

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 in Foreign Policy in Focus
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email