Half the human race lives in cities. So, if we're serious about promoting sustainable life, the city is the best place to start.
Every day, London, New York and Paris between them consume 3 supertanker loads of oil and 20,000 tons of food. At the same time, they spew out 100,000 tons of solid waste and FIVE TIMES that weight in carbon monoxide.
The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions together gave birth to the cities. These cities have since grown up, and have become fat and sick. If they're to live, it's essential that they slim down and 'unclog their arteries'.
Another important Dismantlement will take place in our cities and will be the dismantlement of the cities themselves. This will be partly a natural process spread over a long time span. As certain other Dismantlements start to bite, many city dwellers will relocate to towns, villages and the countryside, gradually transforming today's megacities into large towns offering good quality of life to everyone.
Naturally, the countryside will not be able to absorb city populations without great damage. So, the most important Dismantlement of all - that of the human population - will have to be well underway first...
Dismantlement will create a new balance.
There will be good communications between the smaller cells comprising manageable towns and TELEVILLAGES. Everyone will have a meaningful life and there will be no desperately huge cities because there will be no need for them.
Remember, we're talking about a timescale of two hundred and fifty years, so it's not going to be as disruptive as it sounds. Dismantlement of the cities will happen gradually, but will require gentle prodding and direction so that they come apart in an orderly fashion, as opposed to a messy, painful way, which is what happens when we let natural disintegration rule. We're seeing it now with the decay of our inner cities. They didn't have to rot. We could have done it a different way if we'd had the resolve - if we'd had a PLAN.
Dismantlement gives us our plan.
On average 10% of a city is rebuilt and changed every generation. As long as we change in the right direction - to a plan - every city on Earth could be totally transformed by the end of our 250 year 'second lap'.
The city of Toronto has stopped its outward growth and is building homes closer to where the jobs are. The city has intentions also to cut carbon dioxide creation by 3% a year, even though its population is growing. Not only that, but, in a sign of real global understanding, this city in North America is helping to finance the planting of new forests in South America to soak up some of the carbon dioxide which cities like Toronto create.
Milton Keynes, England
Britain's most energy-efficient town boasts an 'energy park' comprising hundreds of houses, all of which have fuel bills a third lower than the average city house. Other Milton Keynes innovations include partly 'burying' homes in the earth to reduce heat loss, and incorporating a huge sloping wall made of glass to make the most of the sun's heat - wise measures when you consider that half the earth's energy needs are for heat.
The new energy-saving homes of Schiedam in the Netherlands are knocking as much as 90% off the average price of heating a home. In these homes, central heating is not even needed, because the water heater alone provides all the warmth that's needed. A pump pulls fresh air into the house and warms it up with the old stale air it is ejecting.
Davis CA, U.S.A.
Davis, California, provides a model for all towns and cities to follow. For a start, it has put a ceiling on its population of 50,000. The town hopes to be getting HALF its energy from the sun by the year 2000, and the planting of 20,000 shade trees has significantly reduced the need for air-conditioning in the hot summer months. There are almost as many bikes in Davis as there are people (and 70km of bike lanes to accommodate them), and FOUR TIMES as many bikes as cars! Residents are also encouraged to grow their own food. If they don't have their own garden, they are given an allotment.
Here is a city that has avoided the need to dismantle through forward planning and inspired transportation policies. Click here for details.
Of course, the problems aren't the same everywhere. We'd like to hear what yours are, and what's being done to solve them, if anything.