There is no city without nature. Without air, water, and food the
city cannot exist. Even if we wanted, we could not produce air or
water out of nothing. Nature contains the city and provides the
means of its existence. Destroying nature, therefore, amounts to
self-destruction. A comparison at the human scale would be a man
actively destroying his own body. No sane organism seeks self-destruction;
it contradicts the principle of life whereby every living being
strives for survival and expansion.
|This recent SeaWiFS overpass of Bolivia
shows obvious human habitation in the
forms of deforestation and urbanization.
We have been accustomed to the notion that the
city is opposed to nature, and that exploitation of natural resources
is a necessary evil. Like a mad organism, the city destroys its
surroudings a little more everyday. This lack of consciousness of
the bigger whole, has brought cities to extinction in the past,
and will again in the future if nothing changes.
At the center of the Mayan civilization, between
AD 900 & 1500, the city of Coplan died out because it did not
manage its resources in a sustainable way. A widely accepted theory
suggests that over farming caused the collapse of Coplan. The land
was not given fallow time to rest and regenerate itself, as a result
it was producing less crops every year until there was just not
enough to sustain the needs of the population.
To an extraterrestrial visitor looking at earth
from above the city would appear as a parasitic organism feeding
itself of nature. “Developed” cities do not merely exploit
their immediate natural surroundings, but rather rely on complex
global networks of trade and consumption. The millions of hectares
of genetically modified corn fields in the American Midwest feed
the megalopolises of the Northeast. Cheap t-shirts and sneakers
consumed in New York City are produced in Chinese sweetshops. Suburban
wooden houses are made of Amazonian trees. Indeed, everything is
interconnected, and the resources consumed in cities are too often
the result of a destructive exploitation of natural resources in
another part of the world.
Being conscious of where our resources come from
and at what price for the environment is a first step towards sustainability.
We cannot wait for the adverse effect of the city’s exploitative
relationship to nature to hit us to react, because they are absolutely
non-reversible. After reaching a certain threshold, global warming
will change the ecosystem for ever, leading to the disappearance
of certain vegetal and animal species and to the spread of others.
Even if after that point, the temperature was to cool down again
these species would not reappear.
Cities do not need to be parasite to nature.
One the contrary, we believe that more energy and well being can
be generated through a symbiotic integration between human settlement
and the environment. Our consciousness allows us to rise above exploitation
and self-destruction. Humans are not finite and self-sufficient,
but rather belong to much larger social and natural wholes. OrganiCity
presents sustainable urban practices and aims at demonstrating that
cities can exist and grow in symbiosis with nature.