Being a native Londoner I’ve always held a deep fascination with cities and a steadfast preference to living in an urban environment. The name of this blog refers to a line from Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto where Jaguar Paw tells an outsider “this is my forest… my father hunted it before me… and my sons will hunt it with their sons after I am gone”. In a more abstract way, the city is my forest. I’ve experienced the comfortable feeling of ‘slotting in’ and conforming to the bustle in far-flung corners of the globe irrespective of cultural differences. I’ve lived in small (Seville), medium (Birmingham) and of course large-sized cities and found the experience commensurate in many ways.
The importance of cities in the future will only grow as mass urban migration occurs. Various projections envisage a planet where 75% of its ten billion inhabitants live in urban areas by mid-century. The failures of suburban and automobile orientated living are becoming more evident and require urgent attention in a world where climate change is such an ominous threat. Seeing first-hand how cities can positively affect the environment, civic society, institutions, and the economy at the same time has been inspiring and piqued an interest in the subject of urban sustainability.
The vast range of topics that sustainable urbanism encompasses make it an intriguing subject where there is so much potential to positively effect change. Architecture, urban design, town planning, sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, geography, environmental science, engineering, food, transport, energy, and politics are different strands that weave together to form a holistic subject where inspiration can be drawn from in myriad ways.
The prospect of smart cities is fascinating and elements of the smart city have already been implemented across the world. Technology’s inexorable rise to the engine of our species’ development allows us to imagine and create incredible solutions to problems, yet reversing the negative impact of climate change is an unprecedented challenge for humanity that will require focus and action in the coming century. Smart cities are a viable facilitator in protecting our planet.
Resolving social, political, and economic problems will always remain a challenge but an intelligent global approach to what lies in our future must account for cities’ significance in tackling issues of climate change, resource scarcity, and overpopulation.