Friday, 20 April 2007

city life

As I fly over Toronto, I sometimes wonder how much of it—this city—is devoted to its own maintenance. Feeding the people here, repairing the infrastructure, removing waste and supplying replacements for broken items. What else goes on here in Toronto?

Steve Johnson has written books exploiting the trope of the city as an organism. But new research suggests this is a false metaphor. When organisms get larger, they use less energy (by mass), and move slower. On the other hand, “as cities get larger they create more wealth and they are more innovative at a faster rate.” In other words, as compared to growth in size, energy requirements grow more slowly while wealth grows more quickly. Bigger cities are 'smarter' cities. That's not to say things are perfect:
Large cities generate considerable wealth, they are home to many high paying jobs and are seen as engines of innovation. But cities also generate pollution, crime and poor social structures that lead to the urban blight that plagues their very existence.
This research suggests that more resources should go toward solving pollution, crime, and social problems—not toward suburbanization. I agree; suburbs are a great evil. I suppose that if cities handled pollution, crime, and social problems better, fewer people would flee to the burbs.

But I sure wouldn't trade in my childhood of running around in the woods of Maine.

No comments: