Cities of the future

I think most people assume that our path is nothing but a straight trajectory toward a kind of future we’ve seen in movies and on TV.  We will get flying cars and mega cities with trains that run on the sides of buildings.

After the smile brought about by those wonderful idea fades from our faces, I think most of us assume that we will at least get more of what we have now.  Maybe with some better landscaping and less traffic, but basically the same.

There is however a reason that we will not get any of those:  energy.  All those scenarios require huge amounts of energy that simply won’t be available.  No Jetsons, no gigantic cities, no more sprawl.

What we will get if we aren’t careful is a very ragged existence in the ruins of high energy suburbia.

Only slightly facetiously, here’s what we could have if we do it right. We’ll have the benefit of some electricity, some internal combustion, sanitation, disease prevention, and advanced communications.  But there is a reason that this type of living arrangement has lasted since the beginning of human settlement in cities:  low energy.  We should begin planning today to make the most out of our transition to a low energy future.



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2 responses to “Cities of the future

  1. Ernie Yanarella

    This Lego diorama is not really all that far-fetched. If you go to Old Europe, you will find many medieval hilltowns that retain the density and sociality of their medieval origins. Sadly, many of them outside the town walls are now surrounded by sprawling commercial and residential developments that stand in sharp contrast to their medieval cores. Dick Levine and I have championed this urban form as a post-modern city-as-a-hill. For more, go to:

    Ernie Yanarella

    • I agree, in fact I’ll be in old europe soon enough, sampling the delights that could await us if we choose to go back to the future….

      Your and Professor Levin’s work is really far sighted and so hopeful


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