Alex Steffen: Build Up, Not Out
Alex Steffen, the
author of Carbon Zero, thinks crowded megacities could be the ideal frontier
for fighting climate change. As cities get denser, their per-capita energy
costs drop. By 2050, he envisions humanity scattered among a constellation of
walkable urban centers, powered by decentralized green energy, with a largely
car-free population living in eco-friendly housing. At a certain point, he
says, "people buy efficient and sustainable buildings just because they
work better." In the next decade, he foresees a "snap forward,"
the "start of an inevitable process of the zero-carbon future
out-competing the high-carbon future." The worst mistake we can make "is
to think the world of the next 10 years will be like the world of the last 10,"
Steffen says. The decisions we make now will be "the difference between a
planet with serious climate challenges but a bright future and one working with catastrophe." SE