It amazes me that one can still speak to people sometimes who don’t seem to comprehend what unsustainable actually means, there’s a kind of sheep mentality that thinks we can keep treating our environment and each other the way that we are, and get away with it. Luckily I live in a place where most of the people are aware, we don’t all necessarily think the same way about it, but we do all acknowledge that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Alex Steffen describes it as stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
He says that when we look to move to renewable energy we are actually tackling a problem that can’t be solved, with the growing urban population operating in the way it generally does now, we could never generate sufficient energy by any means. I’m not sure if I completely agree with this notion, but I do like what he is putting forward as an alternative, cities need to be re-designed so that space is shared more efficiently. Rather than owning certain pieces of equipment, such as a power drill, we would have access to the service when we need it.
Buildings also need to become more efficient, using the breeze for cooling, sunlight for heating and light, utilise systems where they collect rainwater that can then be used to create gardens and perhaps connect to the rivers. Alex mentions pollination pathways so that butterflies and bees are invited back into the urban environment, to me it sounds like a much more life and people oriented philosophy than is currently operating in our cities.
The more dense a city the lower the emissions according to Alex, this is because people don’t actually own cars, they use public transport, they walk, and they ride bicycles. This too needs to be incorporated into the design of our future cities, having become a country girl I tend to think a bit negatively about cities, but like anything, it’s all in the perception. Cities can be opportunities to do things differently and to do them better than before, much of this is already happening around the world and if we are to survive as humans on this planet it needs to become our new way of being.
Futurist Alex Steffen is excited about the cities of the future. We live in a rapidly urbanizing world, and this is a good thing. The density brings many unforeseen blessings, shedding the car is just one of them.
We will no longer be talking about the dream house, but rather the dream neighborhood. Welcome to his vision!