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[caption id="attachment_1163" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Richard Register"][/caption] Sixty years ago it was the American rush to the suburbs financed by the national government of the USA: GI loans, deductible house interest payments at tax time and free, free at last, thank God all mighty free at last freeways. (Actually, the term was coined by Brooklyn, New York lawyer and urban planner Edward Basset in 1930 but coming on strong only during and since the 1950s.)
[caption id="attachment_1163" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Richard Register"][/caption] I used to joke about my unusual life, being a sculptor, environmental activist, development politician. I lived in a mountain village in New Mexico at 9,000 feet (back to the land!), in a studio storefront in Venice, alifornia (loved the art scene), at Paolo Soleri’s experimental town, Arcosanti, Arizona (to reshape cities around the world). Enjoyed enough drugs, sex and rock n roll that Bob Dylan could never accuse me of letting someone else get my kicks for me. (Met him, Joan Baez and Jim Morrison along the way.) I’m traveling all over the world these days to give speeches on eco-cities so we don’t wreck the planet, trying thereby to get beyond jet fuel hypocrisy to better than balanced karma.
[caption id="attachment_716" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Richard Register"][/caption] I went to a movie the other night and – my mistake – got there on time: I had to sit through ten minutes of ads, plus four reminders to turn your cell phone off, then previews that went on and on. What’s with this relentless over the top violence? Does everything have to be blown up, glass shattered, blood spattered? What about all those violent video games sucking up hundreds of billions of hours of humanity’s time? Couldn’t something more positive, productive, non-violent and creative hold our attention?
[caption id="attachment_716" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Richard Register"][/caption] .....That’s pronounced CAR-cen-taur-OP-olis. While I was living in Lost Angeles in the 1960s, lost in the smog, back when each breath seared your throat and lungs and hot tears rolled down your cheeks under dark mid-day skies, this European journalist came touring through town. He was writing an article about the city of car centaurs, the LA citizens that were half car and half person. “Truly said,” I said, “this here is Carcentauropolis, for sure.” It was the city to coin the term, piecing together smoke and fog. It was the city of the future with its own PR department called Hollywood, leading the charge to super mobility, the envy of the world – and the world is still dreamily following. Carcentauropolis victorious!
I was in Korea recently sharing the stage with futurist Jim Dator. He’s head of the Research Center for Future Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Privately he told me he thought signs were very bad, that we probably would not make it, that is, that humanity and the biosphere would undergo catastrophic collapse taking all his futuristic dreams with it.
[caption id="attachment_716" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Richard Register"][/caption] Happy Earth Day! Here comes the oil spill! BP’s Deepwater Horizon, state of the art oil drilling platform digging into the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico 5,000 feet below explodes, killed 11 workers, burned into early morning Earth Day April 2010, toppled, sunk and released what may end up as the worst technologically caused natural disaster in American history. Blame is everywhere: BP, Transocean the owners of the drilling rig, insufficient regulation, a faulty “blowout preventer.”
[caption id="attachment_716" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Richard Register"][/caption] I have noticed that there were few tools offered in my memory of the Degrowth conference for actually bringing in a new economics that embodies degrowth. I followed Joan Martinez-Alier’s links and some of the text of the contents of the publication he mentioned, in an issue of the Journal of Cleaner Production, and it seemed to me, as usual among business people, economic theorists and even climate change solutions advocates, the built environment and what its variety of expressions imply was completely omitted. Since various different designs and layouts of cities vary massively in their impacts, this line of investigation seems to me to be crucial.

The Eighth International Ecocity Conference (Ecocity 2009) is over and so is the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. It is time for some assessments and moving on. Let’s try to make sense and progress of the United Nations event despite the general disappointment,...