Futures Lab Russia, July 2021, invited Integral City to imagine cities in 100 years. This series of blogs comprises the lecture that was offered by Marilyn Hamilton PhD, Founder of Integral Cities.
Gaia Continues: Along with these evolving population profiles, life conditions are also shifting in cities around the world, producing a toxic mix of interconnected threats. The relationship of natural capital to human endeavor shows that human society (in the industrial and post-industrial world) is almost bankrupt because it is now consuming my Earth’s capital at a dangerous and unsustainable rate. As noted by Rees and Wackernagel with their Eco Footprint (1994) over two decades ago, living at this rate of consumption demands the equivalent of three to four planets.
All of this demonstrates to me, that I need to create an evolutionary solution – especially if I want you humans to build “new cities”.
MH: Before we talk about new cities, let’s consider what we need to know to regenerate existing cities.
Implications for Development of Existing Cities
Gaia: As we have seen, an evolutionary analysis of sustainability threats tells us that cities in the developing world face greater levels and more complex risks than cities in the developed world. These relate to both the internal ways of thinking, cultural beliefs and visions of the future as well as in the external behaviors and structures and systems of the city. That’s why you suggest that developing quality of life in your human habitats requires both placecaring and placemaking.
Ecological Implications for City Regeneration
When threats to city sustainability occur because of major natural disasters, restoring city capacities depends on strategies that must be evolutionarily appropriate to the level of complexity of the city while keeping in mind its ecology, climate and natural capital load (Esborn-Hargens & Zimmerman; Zimmerman 2010, 2005).
Many examples of disaster-based meltdowns, dramatically illustrate the difference of regeneration in the developed world (e.g., Sendai, Japan) compared to the developing world (Haiti).
Where the threats are less dramatic, for example where deterioration has occurred over extended time frames, the results may be no less drastic. For instance, in places where there is little social equity for workers’ health and safety, toxic soups of physical and chemical deterioration endanger human survival. We know of polluted cities from cold-war Russia; the electronic and shipping recycling dumps in China and India; the maquiladoras in Mexico and southern Asia – or even Miami’s recent apartment collapse. These cities are stuck in life conditions that have long ago threatened the health of the local Biosphere and toxified the Cosmosphere sufficiently to imperil the health of the Anthroposphere. These same threats are now increasing regional and global deterioration, including global temperature increases, CO2 emissions, terrorism, corruption, refugee displacement and restricted governance participation. In addition such unsustainable city systems are clearly impacting any clear resolution of deforestation, democratization, non-fossil fuel adoption and unemployment (Glenn et al., 2011a, p. 3; 2011b).