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
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