Sunday, June 14, 2009


Downsizing Cities to Save Them

Plenty of attention has been focused on the fact that urban infrastructure is starting to crumble, and that some urban areas, most notably suburbs, are being depopulated. Supplying urban services to abandoned areas and maintaining infrastructure (tap water, sewage lines, power lines, roads, trash collection, and the like) is a huge drain because, of course, there aren’t any taxpayers there to fund services and maintenance. So now comes one of the most sensible ideas I have heard in a long time: bulldozing such areas and returning them to nature. It is hoped that all cities with this problem — and there will be many more as industrial civilization declines — see the light and pull back to scales that their shrunken finances can manage. Further, just imagine the ecological bonus this will bring as blighted ecosystems recover and wildlife has more room to live.

Just one suggestion: Cities that initiate such programs should not just send in the bulldozers and trash everything. They should instead invite house-stripping companies to come first and take everything of value. That will make subsequent demolition a much easier job, and create far less waste. In addition, this up-and-coming industry will get a significant boost.

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