Monday, November 15, 2010

Urbanites Can Survive on Smog.

Feeling in the need of reading a bit more science I picked up a copy of New Scientist (as mentioned in a previous post). It was slightly off-putting for me seeing the front cover picture of a ‘green’ city and the title ‘Urban Utopia – why the city is greener than the country’ but I persevered. I even decided to swallow bile and try reading the main ‘Escape to the City Story’. Perhaps I was being unfair, perhaps I’m too biased, perhaps I need to read more of this sort of stuff to get a more balanced view.

The basic contention of the article is of course quite correct: people packed together in cities will use less energy because resources are concentrated. They don’t need private transport, all their turds go in the same sewer, there’s less need to run electricity through miles of wires or water through miles of pipes. The dustbin men won’t burn as much fuel collecting the rubbish etc etc. So far, so bleeding obvious.

But about five paragraphs in we are told that UN reports suggest ‘that in 2008, 50% of the world’s population lived in urban settlements, which together take up just 3% of the Earth’s land area’. Yeah, okay, got that: battery farmed chickens take up less land than free-range ones.

Then, the next paragraph gives us: ‘This mass exodus from the countryside should lift the strain of intensive agriculture from the land, allowing forests to bounce back.’

I am absolutely stunned at the deep stupidity of that statement. Are we to suppose that city dwellers subsist on a more meagre diet than those in the country? Is the contention here that city dwellers can exist on organic carrots and tap water and that this will relieve ‘the strain of intensive agriculture’?

This was another lazy divisive article to display the magazine’s green credentials. A fairly unsurprising product of a BBC ‘science’ researcher who already has a history of producing such trash. There’s also a sinister edge here concerning how much easier it is to deliver ‘services’ to city dwellers, and to deal with their ‘social problems’.

Of course, it’s also so much easier to look after animals when they’re in a zoo.

Note: the next article in the magazine, one titled ‘Nurturing Nature’, explains to us how children raised in cities are more obese than those raised in the country. Go figure.


Larry said...

I'd stop reading that magazine if I were you, its feeding you bullshit! Let's all move to the city, let the countryside fix itself-yea right! You couldn't pay me to live in a city!

Neal Asher said...

I don't think I would mind living in a city, at least for a little while, for the novelty. But that's not what gets me about this. It's the implication that cities can somehow do without what the countryside produces. Where does this woman think just about every product in supermarket food aisles comes from?

Huan said...

Sure doesn't meat come in plastic trays nowadays? and veges come ready frozen out of a plastic bag?
That's the worrying thing the profound disconnect between real life and the life many people lead.
I'm not talking sci-fi here but many people just don't have a clue.

Anonymous said...

New Scientist's hue would appear to be light green, as it were - there are plenty of dark greens who do not like cities at all.

Here's one comment I found on green website Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Network..

"If you could make a time-lapse bird's eye animation of the growth of city, it'd resemble the growth of a malignant cancer, a spore, which spreads and consumes and poisons it's [sic] substrate."

I quite enjoy living in the urban hive, myself, so that made me smile.