Gas prices are at an average of $1.96 per gallon, far below the $4-plus they hit last year. The price of oil amid a global recession that has sharply curtailed demand declines to $35 per barrel on Feb. 20. People are fearful as many lose jobs and others go through foreclosures. In such an environment, many don’t have “peak oil” or climate change foremost on their minds. But the concerns about the world having a finite reserve of oil and worries about climate change haven’t gone away.
Peter Newman is one of those thinking and speaking about these topics constantly. In a newly released book, Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change
, the author and professor from Australia and co-authors Timothy Beatley and Heather Boyer warn that cities must adapt in the face of these two major challenges or they will collapse. The book discusses four possible outcomes for cities: “collapse,” “ruralized,” “divided,” and “resilient.”
Rather than dwelling on doomsday predictions, the authors choose hope, saying that we as humans can, in Newman’s words, “begin to change our cities towards resilience.” Such cities will innovate so that they become based on renewable energy, not oil; are eco-efficient and carbon-neutral; will produce energy and grow food locally; and will take other measures to reduce consumption and become sustainable. They will be transit-based (especially rail), not car-dependent, and far more in tune with nature, and they’ll create much more viable and pleasant walking and cycling spaces.