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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The planet in numbers: urban life outgrows rural life

A new vision for the city of the future

As the world population expands, cities will have to transform to meet the challenge. Here come foldable cars and flexible apartments.
By Alex Konrad, reporter
A new vision for the city of the future
FORTUNE -- A small vehicle that looks like a Jetsons version of a smart car rests in a room at MIT's Media Lab. Here's how it works. When parking, the rear of the electric CityCar slides under the chassis, allowing the body to fold up into a compact shell. Once folded, the CityCar will fit into a space just one-third the size of a standard parking spot. A single door on the front of the car pops open, allowing the driver to step out onto the sidewalk.
The CityCar is just one example of how MIT's Changing Places group envisions the urban lifestyle of 2022. In October the world population hit 7 billion, and now for the first time in history more than half of the world's population lives in urban centers. MIT is studying how to house and move all those people in ways that will make urban living still bearable. Says Kent Larson, the program's director: "We're focusing on more efficient uses of resources, on ways to lower costs and energy use and at the same time increase personal space."
Arguments Against:
  • Large modern cities are too big to control.
  • Trains are packed; streets are crowded; busses are full. There are bus queues and traffic jams everywhere.
  • Unforeseen events (e.g. power-cut, heavy snowfall, etc.) can cause conditions of utter chaos.
  • City-dwellers are barely conscious of seasons. 
  • The cost of living is higher in big cities.
  • Cities breed crime and violence; houses are burgled; bicycles stolen.
  • Tension in big cities shortens people's lives.
  • Pollution in big cities is becoming dangerous to your health.
  • City people are not a warm-hearted and friendly as country people.
  • The country is a better place for children and much safer.
  • People lose too much time getting to work.
  • Contagious diseases become a serious health hazard.
  • Too many temptations present potential trouble for young people.
  • Too many evil people flock to the cities for better opportunities for their crimes.
Arguments in Favor:
  • Modern man is too sophisticated for simple country pleasures.
  • Commuting does not affect those who live in cities; it is only a small inconvenience.
  • People easily adapt themselves to city life; noise, traffic, etc. are hardly noticed.
  • there are more places for entertainment.
  • Life is never dull; there is always something to do.
  • There are better schools and services in big cities.
  • There is a greater range of jobs and the pay is higher.
  • There is more opportunity to succeed in life.
  • There is more opportunity to meet a variety of interesting people.
  • The educational level is higher; it is a better place for children.
  • There is more choice of schools.
  • The shopping has a wider variety and prices are better.

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