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The City as Infestation?

October 16, 2012 • Climate Change & Mitigation, United States, Daily Email Recap

The story below is from NPR. The “global overview” perspective author Adam Frank is encouraging seems to be an important one.

The City as Infestation
See: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/10/09/162506048/the-city-as-infestation

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For all their variety and variation, cities are, at their root, physical systems. That means, at some fundamental level, they are also expressions of the laws of physics. In physics size matters (or “scale” as we call it). Physicists learn different things about an object by looking at it from different scales. In our first exploration of physics and cities we stayed at the street level. At that scale we saw cities as machines: cars and elevators, pipes and plumbing. Then we went up to the roof. At that scale we saw cities as engines, vast systems for turning energy into work. Today we want to take the final step in our journey and look at cities at the largest scale. Today we get the 20,000-foot view: the city from the sky!

 

When we climb into jet-planes, flying high over the land, we see physics and cities from the grandest perspective: the city as a force in planetary evolution.

 

Take a plane, especially at night, and the view from 20,000 feet lets you see far more than the layout of any individual city. Instead you see vast, sprawling networks of interconnected human habitation. Cities are the nodes of those networks.

 

At night you see a spider-web pattern of light spreading across the planet. It’s densest in the cities, thins out in the suburbs, finally transforming into delicate tendrils that link one metropolitan area to another. From the sky you see that entire regions, hundreds of miles across, have been colonized by aggregations of cities and suburbs. From horizon to horizon, the view from the air shows individual cities spreading until some areas become one, an almost seamless urban axis (think of the coastline from Boston down to Atlanta). It’s only when we fly over landscapes that are truly far removed from cities that the surface finally becomes dark, dotted only with the occasional outlines of small, faint towns.

For the full article, please click here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/10/09/162506048/the-city-as-infestation


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