The Problem

Humanity is running up against the limits of a finite planet. We are experiencing rapid global climate destabilization and the endangerment of entire ecosystems.

Denver, Colorado, sprawl. Photo by Richard Register

These life-threatening global environmental problems demand a restructuring of cities, towns, and villages worldwide for long-term energy efficiency and conservation. Concerned citizens in every community – in every city, town and village – must get involved in formulating and implementing new land use and transportation policies and practices, preserving agricultural lands and open space, and reclaiming natural habitat.

An ecocity is an ecologically healthy city. No such city presently exists. We do, however, see hints of ecocities emerging in today’s solar, wind and recycling technologies, in green buildings and green businesses, in urban environmental restoration projects, urban gardening and organic farming, and in individuals using foot, bicycle and public modes of transportation in preference to the automobile. Car-free urban centers, “mixed use” and “balanced” development projects represent land use and architectural changes moving in the right direction, too.

But despite such positive signs and efforts, the much larger trend around the world is toward cars and sprawl. And now we are at a point of crisis in the way we live, which is largely determined by the way we build. This continuing trend is promoting global warming, species extinction, loss of habitat and agricultural land, serious public health problems and even war.

The prevailing strategy for “saving the environment” has largely been to try to improve a dysfunctional system. But some things cannot be improved without causing further and more destructive problems.