There’s a lot of doom and gloom about these days when it comes to reporting on the environment. Glaciers are melting at a not-so-glacial pace, sea levels are rising and thousands of tree stumps act as symbolic tombstones, marking spots where lush vegetation and forests once stood.
This grotesque (yet ultimately very real) take on current environmental change is what led the folks at Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning to develop a concept which educates the public about climate change and environmental conservation without focussing on “worst case scenarios.” Earlier this year, they launched Sustainia, a digital, idealised, collaborative version of future cities (in the year 2020 to be precise) as they might look if individuals, governments, organisations and companies worked together towards a common goal—in this case, sustainable living.
As part of Sustainia’s vision for a green future:
houses will all come equipped with solar hot water tanks,
rooftops will be painted white to deflect the sun and help regulate internal building temperature;
vertical farms and gardens will be established in cities, providing vegetables for citizens and reducing water and transport needs;
concrete walls will be replaced with “green walls” which have holes that plants and vegetables will occupy; and
all bodies of water (harbours, beaches, rivers) will be clean enough to swim in.
Right now, Sustainia exists as a set of cityguides, with the virtual realm currently being developed. Next month, Monday Morning (which is comprised of organisations such as Microsoft, General Electric, Philips, United Nations Global Compact and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s climate initiative R20 – Regions for Climate Action) will launch the second edition of its cityguides. When the virtual arm is up and running, anyone with internet access can visit the website, take a tour or even take part in the development of Sustainia. The more interactive and collaborative the project is, the easier it becomes to translate Sustainia’s principles into our everyday lives.
Image courtesy of Sustainia
A brief breakdown of why a roadmap such as this is important is provided in the “Guide to Sustainia”, which details the huge impact urban areas have on the environment. Our cities currently produce 80 percent of the planet's economic output. They are also responsible for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and chew up between 60-80 percent of global energy consumption. Those are big numbers for areas which only occupy two percent of the earth’s surface.
What’s really on show is the idea that urbanisation is not a negative by-product of development and can in fact be a very positive thing if carried out in a sustainable manner. The aim of Sustainia is to prove that living lightly and adopting sustainable lifestyles is not as out of reach is we may perceive it to be. All we need to do is make the conscious decision collectively to move forward in this way because, hey, we’ve already got the blueprint nutted out for us.
Check out the video below for a guide to the reasoning behind Sustainia: