Sydney in 2121AD: A Blue-Green City
The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all environmental challenges and become super-ecofriendly Green Utopian cities. This month, we highlight Sydney's future.
Sydney is regularly voted one of the top ‘most livable cities’ in the world. However, the environmental problems of this most livable city are rife and they are getting worse with every passing year. Wildfires, droughts, flashfloods, dust storms, sandstorms, hailstorms, tree loss, insect plagues, bad air, bad water, bad soil. In the near future, it is likely that terrible ‘one-hundred year floods’ will occur once every few years, and that the beautiful Sydney harbor will be eroded away, silted-up, and contaminated to a level where neither human nor fish can swim in it. Rising sea levels are also set to wipe away Sydney’s ports and the famous sandy beaches as well, whilst over-development and urban sprawl -- all the way to the Blue Mountains some thirty miles away -- degrades the terrestrial and riverine environment further.
Long ago, before industrialization, the skies of Sydney were astonishing in their blueness. This was not only because of the fresh ocean vista and clear skies but also because the eucalypt trees in the Blue Mountains released naturally-scented terpinoids into the air that cast a shimmering blue haze. Nowadays, the Sydney haze is brown and hardly at all of a pleasant scent.
The solution: blue environmentalism.
The moniker ‘Blue-Green’ is usually associated with eco-capitalism; the belief that a highly liberalized market economy can work well to protect the world’s ecology. In Sydney 2121, though, blue environmentalism denotes the total protection of the cities two most important environmental resources; the blue sea of the harbor and the Blue Mountains which mark the Sydney’s outermost boundary on land. If these two resources are preserved in an authentic ecological state, then Sydney’s future is assured too.
In Sydney of 2121, liberal capitalism flourishes in the city, as it has since its founding in the 19th century, but under strict rules of investment whereby each and everybody in business, from the average CEO all the way up to 'real workers', attend annual environmental education courses before they are granted a license to work.
There are also zones categorized as off-limits to development. For instance, no more construction is approved near the beach or in the mountains, or on sites of importance to aboriginal culture and myth.
The aborigines of Sydney, the Eora, managed to live for tens of thousands of years without destroying the land within the city and there’s something all Sydneysiders can learn from that.