Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century

By Eugenie L. Birch; Susan M. Wachter | Go to book overview

Afterword

NEAL PEIRCE

The early years of the twenty-first century have been ominous. Take any measure—potentially calamitous global warming, international terrorism, war in the Middle East, islands of genocide, fear of pandemics. Reasons abound to be deeply pessimistic about our times.

But there is an exception: life-generating, life-sustaining green. And it’s not just the green of open field and forest, as critical as those “lungs of the world” remain. The new focus is how regenerative green can be expanded within the world of asphalt and concrete, the jungles of brick, steel, and glass that characterize the rapidly expanding growing urban regions of our time. The definition of “green” keeps growing as fast as morning glories race up a wall, embracing energy-saving and renewable resources, reduced burning of fossil fuels, cleaner air and water, more efficient water and wastewater systems, brownfields cleanup, community gardens, opportunities for better health.

The essays in this volume explore this new green landscape with fresh eyes. They look into historic antecedents, international comparisons, the effects on health, real estate, urban planning, and the essential social fabric of cities. Just glancing through the table of contents is heartening. A refreshing, clear message comes through: that the means, methods, and science to create sustainable green cities, places we would choose for ourselves and children and grandchildren, do exist and are within our power to effect. The question is not the possibility of green and livable cities in a more sustainable world; it is whether we have the collective imagination and will to make that world real in our place and time.

But this book will also make you impatient, and on many fronts.

Why, beyond Seattle, south Florida, Boston, and a few other locales, do we lack clear, statistically significant data on the greenness, the sustainability of our great metropolitan regions, the areas my colleagues and I choose to call the “citistates” of the today’s world?

And what are we building? We now have a marvelous set of tools to

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