TED Conversations

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  • Jul 29 2011: Adam,

    you refer to the work of Geoffrey West re the efficiencies of ever-larger cities. His work does however contain a very large catch. For the city to not die it requires an ever-accelerating pace of change. Fall behind and the city dies.

    So to follow this model we are betting the survival of millions of people on the ability for a huge, rapidly growing (and simultaneously aging) city with an immensely complex set of service-delivery hardware to change evr-more rapidly. I contend that is frankly a ludicrous proposition. Nothing can continue to get better and better faster and faster forever.

    Smaller, manageable locally and with far lower resource requirements is a far better model. Remember Cuba which reduced energy consumption by 90% overnight and found solutions that work and which continue to work.

    Geoffrey West's models do not reflect what happens when a radical paradigm change occurs, they only project evolutionary change from the current baseline.

    In sum, it is a radical re-imagining of how we live and manage our population that is needed. We cannot continue as we are and expect an endless exponential growth in the rate of change to save us.
    • Jul 29 2011: Ken, i am confused on Cuba fact - based on Reuters 2009 article they only reduced 12 percent overnight, based on measure affecting 90 percent of economy. Still - i agree with core of your argument - when people are under pressure they can do wonderful changes.

      So how do we create that sense of urgency about 2050 challenge now with regular citizens and consumers?

      Or are we implying that only central planning (cuba-style) measures can help today 2050 challenge?

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