Friday, June 13, 2008

When All The World's A City

Science-fiction is replete with stories set in a technological future featuring massive, global-spanning cities; Trantor from Asimov's Foundation trilogy and Corissant from the Star Wars prequels are but two examples. But what is seldom addressed with any specificity is how a society feeds a planet-sized city while lacking any arable land on which to farm and raise animals. Several authors posit that we will eventually establish a system for importing these important foodstuffs from other planets, but that infrastructure may take a bit of time to set up.

So as our cities continue to expand at ever faster rates and we move closer to transforming into this seemingly unavoidable urban sphere, one must ask the question: what will happen to biodiversity when the world becomes a giant city? Fortunately, there are some extremely intelligent people who are already working on it:

A new study outlines the uncomfortable question of what happens to the planet’s biodiversity when cities take over the world. Cities are growing, and they’re growing fast. It is projected that urban growth will create an additional 350,000 square miles of cities roads, buildings and parking lots—covering a combined area the size of Texas—by 2030. Every week humans create the equivalent of a city the size of Vancouver. What will this staggering growth mean for both nature and people? According to the study, co-authored by Conservancy scientists Robert McDonald and Peter Kareiva McDonald, it means significant species loss and a further decline of natural resources like fresh water. They say we need to prepare—now.
The gist of the article seems to be that the more we consider this problem and plan ahead for it, the better off we'll be. Unfortunately, we're a species that doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to planning for the future, especially on important matters that concern our very survival. Of course, you and I will be long dead by the time this really becomes a problem for the rest of humanity but I'm still concerned for the future of our planet.


Anonymous said...

I am posting this comment so that you know that I appreciate your posts regarding the environment/sustainability/green-ness. Didn't want you to think it went unnoticed.

JBW said...

Gracias, bud. Like yourself, it's just something I think is very important.