Life af­ter Car­bon

The Next Global Trans­for­ma­tion of Cities

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews | Climate Change -

Peter Plas­trik, John Cleve­land, Is­land Press (DE­CEM­BER) Hard­cover $35 (304pp) 978-1-61091-849-7

Peter Plas­trik and John Cleve­land’s Life af­ter Car­bon is a highly en­gag­ing, for­ward-look­ing study of how mod­ern cities are in­no­vat­ing to sur­vive.

This su­perb book looks at the evo­lu­tion of the world’s cities and their chal­leng­ing fu­ture. It is or­ga­nized into three co­he­sive parts: a sur­vey of “ur­ban cli­mate in­no­va­tion lab­o­ra­to­ries,” the ex­am­i­na­tion of four spe­cific ideas that rep­re­sent mod­ern city in­no­va­tion, and a bold per­spec­tive on how these ideas will help set the course for cities of the fu­ture.

Out­stand­ing ex­am­ples depict the many in­no­va­tive ways that some of the world’s cities are al­ready po­si­tion­ing them­selves to meet chal­lenges like cli­mate change and ur­ban con­ges­tion. Through­out the text and in side­bars, the book refers to ini­tia­tives by cities in North Amer­ica, South Amer­ica, Africa, Europe, and the Far East. These il­lus­tra­tions ef­fec­tively demon­strate the op­ti­mistic view that ma­jor global cities are al­ready in­no­vat­ing, pri­mar­ily in the area of cli­mate change, but also in ur­ban in­fra­struc­ture, trans­porta­tion, re­source con­sump­tion, and waste dis­posal. The sto­ries are pow­er­ful them­selves, but the book takes them fur­ther by in­cor­po­rat­ing them into spe­cific ar­eas that show how cities can use in­no­va­tive think­ing to cre­ate jobs, gen­er­ate “ur­ban abun­dance,” pro­tect ur­ban life, and meet fu­ture re­quire­ments.

While “fu­ture think” per­me­ates the book, its third part is the most am­bi­tious and prophetic. It of­fers a hope­ful view of the fu­ture, wherein ur­ban “green­ing,” au­tonomous ve­hi­cles, and re­new­able en­ergy may con­trib­ute to cities’ ul­ti­mate sur­vival.

A book that ex­udes pas­sion, en­thu­si­asm, and op­ti­mism for the fu­ture, Life af­ter Car­bon is es­sen­tial reading for any­one with a stake in the de­vel­op­ment of to­mor­row’s cities.

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