Intro to future scenarios & the post-carbon wilderness

I’ve been reading lots of books in the emerging genre of future environmental/societal/economic scenarios. These books are both calls for action and roadmaps into the uncharted wilderness of tomorrow. It’s much to early to predict which path our society will follow, but I can safely make the case that there won’t be just one scenario in play, but that hyper-locality will create a mosaic of best to worst cases (in fact we already live in such a world). So here is an introduction to the best and the worst of what the future may hold for humanity.

Scenario planning isn’t that new, governments and business have been using this process for decades. The UN seems to excel at generating scenarios, with the IPCC and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment laying out the foundations for most of the compelling environmental, population, economic, and energy futures.

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Interview with Peter Newman

One of the books that I’m using this semester is Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change by Peter Newman, Timothy Beatley, and Heather Boyer. The ASLA interview with Peter Newman is has few excerpts worth sharing as I develop the syllabus for LA 4002 Implementation of Sustainable Landscape Design and Planning Practices. The two paragraphs worth citing are:

A resilient city is sustainable in its economy, environment, and community, but it has a deeper quality which enables it to quickly adapt to challenges and rebuild itself for any challenge it faces. This is a spiritual quality, which we can see in individuals, families, communities, and businesses, when they are able to face their problems honestly and reinvent themselves rather than live in denial. The reality of the peak oil and climate change crises is that most cities are in denial and not prepared for the big changes that are required.

Green infrastructure has moved from being “the bits left over in urban design” to being “sensitive to the underlying ecology,” and a concept that needs to be respected. Now we need green infrastructure to go to a third level – to help facilitate the Resilient City. This will require green infrastructure to have an integrated function in recreational activity, regenerative activity (carbon sinks and biodiversity), and regional agricultural activity.

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