City Dwellers

August 19th, 2011 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on City Dwellers

We are an urbanized people, and by all accounts it looks like we will continue in that direction over the next 100 years. By the middle of this century, experts predict that we will have 8 billion people living in (or near) cities. Accordingly, we will need to generate huge amounts of energy to accommodate this population. Ironically, the denser the population in a city, the less energy is used. This begins to make sense when you consider that people are closer to the activities of their lives and therefore less transportation is required.

In the video below, Alex Steffen makes a very interesting presentation depicting how cities can become quite sustainable and green, using less and less carbon. Steffen is an author and journalist – his most recent work is Carbon Zero, a book describing cities that create prosperity not climate change, accelerating their economies while reducing their climate emissions to zero.

The video is well worth the view and we certainly need to heed his words and plan for how to best accommodate billions of people in a very narrow setting.

One thing worth mentioning – while I very much enjoyed Steefen’s presentation, I did notice that he did not mention the carbon emissions from the rural areas; and it is this problem that is perhaps our most serious long term pollution problem. I am, of course, referring to conventional agricultural and our current predominant food system. Conventional farming practices and our factory farming model is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all modes of transportation – driving, shipping, flying, locomotive- combined. We can fix the urban areas all we want, but until our food system is overhauled, we will continue to gobble up resources (land and water) at an alarming pace, and our carbon emissions will continue to be a problem.