environment | June 17, 2013

Design For A Sustainable Future, Today: Alex Steffen & Mitchell Joachim

Cities are the solution for a sustainable future, according to planetary futurist Alex Steffen. He recently paired up with fellow Lavin speaker Mitchell Joachim to discuss the future of urban planning at the Futuregreen Hospitality Forum in New York. In an in-depth Google Hangout, the two explained the need to "ruggedize" our cities. Rethinking our urban design is important because, contrary to popular belief, cities can be microcosms of sustainability. When cities are built with climate change prevention in mind, they can be vital components to securing our future. Steffen uses Hurricane Katrina as an example. It would have been more cost-effective to build levees up to the rigorous standards scientists advised, rather then repair the city after the fact. Not to mention that people would be safer.

Joachim agrees that despite the vast amount of foresight and research we currently have on the impact of climate change, we often don't employ it. He admits that "There are moments in history when confronted with a big crisis that we do create big change." Unfortunately, we are more reactive in our urban planning. Steffen says that a major reason for this is that we assume the predictions scientists make depict the "worst-case scenario." In reality, the two speakers say that we can no longer afford to do the bare minimum. In their forward-thinking talks, Joachim and Steffen discuss what we can do right now to ensure a prosperous future. Change takes time, so we should start putting the wheels of change in motion today.

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cities | June 10, 2013