I'm currently in Stockholm, Sweden, about to give a presentation to the Industrial Ecology Department at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). My presentation is about sprawl and urban planning in the United States, with a special emphasis on the Chicago region.
I thought I'd share some of the data that I'm presenting. Most of the this data is plucked directly from the Census, so the analysis isn't particularly sophisticated, but for my friends that aren't neck-deep in these trends, I think they could be thought provoking.
I've compiled these particular data to show that even as we're living closer together in cities than we did in rural areas historically, we're very much growing apart. Our homes are getting larger and fewer people are living in them. In Chicago, the suburban population is growing rapidly while the central city population is shrinking in proportion to the State of Illinois and in absolute terms. A large majority of Americans drive alone to work, and suburbanites are even more likely to drive alone because they have little other choice (unless they live and work along the same commuter train line).
My research revolves around environmental planning and innovation strategies for combating climate change. I'm growing increasingly convinced that the solution to climate change cannot come from new technology: we must instead re-learn how to live together. Urban and suburban living provides us many luxuries, but we cannot live in cities forever and expect to have our "own" everything. As we've transitioned to urbanity, we've forgotten how to share stuff. I'm certain this in not sustainable. I believe figuring out how to share again will be the major challenge of the twenty-first century.
You can click on the images to enlarge them. Shall we begin?
1. An Increasingly Urban World
|8. ...and residents in the fastest growing counties are much more likely to drive alone to work. Even in the City of Chicago, one half of the entire population drives alone to work. They really have no choice.|