Urban density is major element in the picture of a bright green future. Compact homes, closely situated, make a drastic difference in the all-around efficiency of a city, from energy to transportation to shopping for basic necessities. They also make it easy to skip driving and take transit or walk, which decreases pollution and improves physical health. Finally, they foster the creation of supportive community networks in which resources can be better shared and everyone feels safer.
Knowing, however, that populations in general are on the rise, and urban populations in particular, it's important to look ahead towards growth that can accommodate greater numbers without degrading the surrounding natural environment and encouraging sprawl. Smart growth strategies look at ways to make living closer to the city more appealing than a life out in the suburbs, encouraging more dense development on the edge of cities and less sprawl out into the open space outside the metropolitan area.
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Urban settings should also be designed for disaster.
The next flu pandemic will force us to stay away from each other as much as we can, for weeks or months, the whole thing lasting a year or more.
What are the social inventions that would help us get stuff and services moving without us breathing into each others' lungs?