01stJune

Why we need to bring nature back into the cities

Why We Need to Bring Nature Back Into Cities optimistically examines solutions for our time (the Anthropocene era), which has been dominated by humanity’s negative impact on the environment. If we are in the midst of an unprecedented migration of people from rural to urban areas, there is some hope that the systematic damage we have caused could be minimized through greater awareness of our consumptive practices and better management of natural resources. As the urban footprint expands, cities need to adopt what have been typically rural practices, modified and innovated to fit the architecture and infrastructure of urban development. Green roof gardens, urban wildlife habitats, and green spaces would need to be incorporated to offset urban dwellers’ consumption of resources, coupled with significant changes in the ways in which energy is used and generated.
Green spaces can minimize the damage of urban living in multiple ways—by sequestering carbon, purifying water, minimizing runoff and cooling. Progressive, sustainable urban design often includes urban wilds, despite the conflict they pose to commercial developers, whose designs for “empty” space typically involve building high-rise apartments or corporate offices. There will inevitably be tension between housing the increasing urban populace and the decreasing space that cities can provide. A holistic environmentally conscientious view could use an alternative rubric for measuring the costs versus benefits on a larger scale. Anthropocene urban planning needs to take into consideration what is at stake in terms of the future of our planet. Unfortunately, the costs and access to affordable technology to make those changes is a challenge that cities in the developing world struggle with. Short-term priorities, by necessity, often outweigh long-term benefits.

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