Imagining the Sustainable Communities of the Future

September 22nd, 2007

One of the challenges we face is just conceiving of the nature and scale of the change required to make the world a sustainable habitat for human beings. We know that our present reality is literally unsustainable, and is already beginning to show signs of critical deterioration through the effects of our industrial and post-industrial economic activity.

Scientists have reported that a record amount of Arctic sea ice melted this summer (2007). According to the UK Daily Mail, “The ice cap shrank by 386,100 square miles – an area four times as large as the UK – from the previous low in 2005.”

…”It’s the biggest drop from a previous record that we’ve ever had and it’s really quite astounding,” said Walt Meier, from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

See complete story.

Our entire way of living, our society and our economy, are about to undergo a radical change. The question is, how will we adjust to the already unavoidable consequences of climate change? And what steps will we take to prevent further global warming?

Our housing needs to change – and indeed our entire concept of community life may also change as a consequence. Our transportation needs to change. We can no longer keep building roads for fossil-fuel burning vehicles; while we can certainly switch over to electric vehicles, we have to look further at how we are generating that electric power, and whether indeed our whole aging infrastructure of highways and bridges – built originally to allow the military to move swiftly across the country to counter a Communist invasion – is really worth renwing and expanding to create more congestion and sprawl.

The question is, are we going to need to build entire communities that are little islands of cool, green, health – and eject their heat and waste into an even more degraded and overheated global environment? What are the alternative visions of the future that genuinely take into account the realities of our stratified, belligerent, and economically self-aggrandizing societies?

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