Our Path to Sustainability

7439a95a99911435fbd78a7dd1ff20d2Arched Walkway, Downtown Phoenix, AZ

Through the Industrial Revolution, humans achieved the abilities to reshape the living environment in a much larger scale. Empowered hands started a long period of urbanization, and humans were willing to sacrifice the natural environment to reach the economic goals. Thus, the misalignment could existed in different aspects of urban evolution process.

Economically, a small portion of the society members were extremely benefited from industrial activities, road constructions, shipping activities, etc. Socially, lower income society member had limited access to the cities’ resources, like parks, food, clean water, etc. In other words, only certain individuals, or per se capitalists, got what they want from the urbanization.  In traditional urban development norm, we could achieved what we need after purposeful inputs, but usually the outputs accompany unexpected consequences. For instance, widening highway infrastructure to connect a job center and a residential suburb could reduce the travel time between both and boost the regional economic development potentially, however, the infrastructure wiped out green fields that could be used as habitats for birds or other species, and the sprawling could initiate more suburb expansion which wouldn’t benefit for building walkable communities close to job centers. Furthermore, creating more pollution for the living environment and inefficient urban structure.

“Whether cities are on a track of sustainability?” We may reach different answers on where we were/are on the urban evolution timeline. Anyhow, “as long as population continues to increase, we must expect the continuous creation of new threats to survival.” i However, we shall still have the faith on that a city, any city, definitely have capacities to endure for a more livable future, because the voices are echoing nowadays for a worldview should rise to see nature, nations, and our neighbors to be partners in a grand project of mutual reinvention. ii  Additionally, with the proper use of modern technologies instead of abusing it, humans can seek ways to maximize cities’ potential for high living quality environment as a whole. Through years of endeavor, we have seen urban greenways, high performance buildings, and net-positive communities have been built, we believe humans are back to the right track of sustainability. Nevertheless, the road to a sustainable future would be long and challenging, we should think holistically and explore opportunities along the way to embrace the changes. It is not just simply changing ordinary citizens’ living style, also includes radical changes on the social side, as well as on the political, economic, and cultural sides. iii Through years of endeavor, we have seen urban greenways, high performance buildings, and net-positive communities have been built, we

i. Gregory Bateson. 2000. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. 1 edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
ii. Naomi Klein, 2014. This Changes Everything: Introduction.
iii. Naomi Klein, 2014. This Changes Everything: Introduction.
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