National Geographic recently launched its “Seven Billion Special Series“–a year-long series on global population. I hesitantly read the first article expecting more of the same old gloom and doom but “The City Solution” offers a refreshing take on why economists and environmentalists can embrace cities.
With Earth’s population headed toward nine or ten billion, dense citites are looking more like a cure–the best hope for lifting people out of poverty without wrecking the planet, writes Robert Kunzig.
Harvard economist Edward Glaeser supports this point of view in his new book, Triumph of the City where he writes, “There’s no such thing as a poor urbanized country; there’s no such thing as a rich rural country.” Poor people flock to cities, according to Glaeser, because there is more money and cities produce more because “the absence of space between people” makes it cheaper to move goods, people, and ideas. Moreover, city dwellers tread lightly:
Their roads, sewers, and power lines are shorter. Their apartments take less energy to heat and cool…and they drive less.
The fear of urbanization has not been good for cities, countries, or for the planet. The author suggests that it is a mistake to see urbanization as evil rather than as an inevitable part of development. People (and planners) should no longer look at cities as tumors “but as concentrations of human energy…to be tapped.”