To save the Earth, stack humans in green cities and leave the wilderness for other animals


Originally published at:


Or we could eat each other, it’s a tasty solution.


Earth…or as they like to call us in a galaxy far far away: Ancient Coruscant.


I believe some folks try this method already…wait, we aren’t thinking the same thing.


Or Trantor, or that world in Bil the Galactic Hero where they have to constantly ship in oxygen because there’s no green space left.


the Green Left’s usual (and potentially genocidal) tactic of reducing our population by 50% [citation needed]


Although more of our oxygen comes from microbes in the ocean than comes from forests.


You beat me to it stryxvaria. Citation definitely needed


I love the idea of arcologies, but as a non-driver I realize my distaste of the sprawling vehicle-dependant cities of today may not be shared by people who don’t see walkability as a plus and who drive to grocery stores and work and restaurants.


it varies from person to person…


They’d covered over the oceans too.


The technical solutions, and the ability of well-funded researchers to overcome the technical problems, have never been the limiting factors in achieving a prosperous, ecologically sustainable world. Especially not now - that was a lot less clear and demonstrable decades ago when the idea of green-ness and environmentalism took off.


According to Hans Rosling population will flatten out at 11 billion and we’ll be able to sustain ourselves and the environment at that level - that’s if we distribute wealth a little more equitably, or come up with new definitions of wealth - oh, and also if we stop all that fucking people over for empty demented reasons.


The whole Guardian series on urban futures is awesome


Oh, and also if we stop all that fucking (end sentence)


The Green Left may not want to achieve a population reduction via a mass die-off (that’s more the solution of the political right for all problems), but a certain subset of them will oppose Robinson’s suggestion because they think cities aren’t “natural” and “authentic.”

Exurban sprawl and one-industry towns are unsustainable and most citizens in the West aren’t interested in tilling the soil. Cities are the future, so the question now becomes how best to manage them.


Calhoun’s work (see Universe 25*) suggests that packing us in as tight as possible is a bad idea, even for an otherwise Utopian space.

* Sure, I could use the Wikipedia link to Behavioral Sink instead of the io9 article, but this is one case where Wikipedia is surprisingly dry and light on horrific details.


My concern about these “massive eco-arcology” plans is that they seem to be born out of the modernist dream of the 50s and 60s, which were tried, and proven to be massive failures for a number of reasons - they look good on paper, but don’t mesh with what people actually need for happy living.

Pruit-Igoe in St. Louis, Bijilmer in Amsterdam, etc., aimed to make more ecologically friendly cities by putting everyone in massive highrises, with the ground left as greenspace and common area. But with the common areas not connected to anyone’s personal responsibility, they got destroyed. Further, people don’t like living in massive identical buildings - it is a nice egalitarian idea that everyone’s home will be the same, but what seems “equal” on paper feels dehumanizing in practice.

I think a lot can be done to reduce the individual environmental impact of people, and make our food production more sustainable (and better distributed), that doesn’t require a modernist fantasy.


Unfortunately forcefully reducing our population and forcing people to all live in one area have the same root problem: force.


It’s better than national-“anarchism” and “anarcho”-capitalism, but not by much.