Is the future really urban?

Friday, September 10, 2010 15:54

screenshot from the Foreign Policy website

We live in an urban age, for the first time in history the human species has become prevalently urban. The general assumption – backed by figures – is that the number of people set to live in cities will continue to grow, the acceleration unstoppable.

In this article, Urban Legends published on Foreign Policy, Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, argues the contrary. Kotkin suggests that not only will cities lack the pulling power to draw people in in the future, but also the resources and systems required to maintain the lives within them. He believes that as it will become harder to survive in cities, the suburbs will provide the answer.

“Consider the environment. We tend to associate suburbia with carbon dioxide-producing sprawl and urban areas with sustainability and green living. But though it’s true that urban residents use less gas to get to work than their suburban or rural counterparts, when it comes to overall energy use the picture gets more complicated. Studies in Australia and Spain have found that when you factor in apartment common areas, second residences, consumption, and air travel, urban residents can easily use more energy than their less densely packed neighbors. Moreover, studies around the world — from Beijing and Rome to London and Vancouver — have found that packed concentrations of concrete, asphalt, steel, and glass produce what are known as “heat islands,” generating 6 to 10 degrees Celsius more heat than surrounding areas and extending as far as twice a city’s political boundaries.”

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