Chillin' Verde

Dispatches from 'Verdopolis: The Future Green City'

| February 17, 2005

Verdopolis is a three-day powwow on 'urban environmental sustainability.' Since most folks don't have that kind of time to spend on what's usually a gloom-and-doom topic, Grist Magazine sent Emily Gertz to be an interlocutor.

Gertz's first observation: 'This isn't your mother's environmental conference.' Participants aren't consumed by anger. Accepting the inevitability of human-caused climate instability, they've decided to focus on practical methods to minimize the problem (and plan to pounce on business opportunities that arise along the way).

The panels and audiences at the conference include designers, architects, engineers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, business people, academics, and environmentalists. One of the attending brainiacs, Yale social ecology professor Stephen Kellert, claims animals in zoos today have it better than the average urbanite. That's because animals' zoo habitats are designed to simulate the environments in which they evolved, while horizontally inclined human beings are forced to negotiate the towering verticality of today's modern city. With more people living in cities now than rural areas, says Kellert, horizontal views should be restored for the sake of human health, productivity, and happiness.

Gertz hones in on a handful of innovative environmental thinkers like Kellert, but perhaps the most informative of her dispatches comes from Day Three, or the 'Show Me the Money' session. That's when Gertz translates the Wall Street suits, providing a succinct breakdown of the Kyoto protocol, the practical problems and solutions related to emissions trading markets (a key feature in Kyoto), and socially responsible investment funds.
-- Hannah Lobel

Go there >> Emily Gertz Sends Dispatches From Verdopolis, a Confab on Future Green Cities

Go there too >> Next and the City: At Verdopolis, Emily Gertz Learns How to Make Cities More Like Zoos