The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all environmental problems and grown to become super-ecofriendly. This week we highlight the future of Graz; the principal city of the Austrian state of Styria.
Graz nowadays is a Clean-Tech hub in Europe; a sector that includes renewable energy, recycling technology, and zero-waste production. The sector earns hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the city and it is growing in leaps and bounds.
All this means that Clean-Tech is becoming highly influential in Graz; firmly establishing itself within the city’s ethos and identity. In coming decades, as the 21st century proceeds, anybody who works against Clean-Tech, by not using it for example, may be called out as being bad for the city.
Back in 1599, Graz was the home of Johannes Kepler, one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. Kepler was the one who worked out how the planets move round the Sun in elliptical orbits and he was working in Graz as a math teacher.
At this time, a cultural war was raging all over Europe between Catholics and Protestants. The leaders of Graz were Catholic. Kepler was Protestant. In 1600, during a crackdown against Protestants, Kepler was forced to leave the city.
Graz today (and Graz in 2121) is a pretty city with beautiful suburbs set in the forested foothills of impressive mountains.
The residents of Graz want to keep Graz beautiful. The liberals among them are inclined to do this through environmental policies. The conservatives, though, are inclined to do it via policies highlighting cultural identity and strict immigration control. In the 22nd century, we find these two value systems are fighting for the future of Graz.
The liberals want every organization in the city -- be it public or private -- to be ecofriendly and use Clean-Tech. The nationalists, on the other hand, want each organization to be more 'Austrian'. In 2121, they strike up a deal and forge a new policy — one as strict as during Graz’s cultural wars over religion.
Everybody in Graz must live a ‘Clean-Tech’ life or else be banished from the city. Thusly, if you are found to pollute the city's landscape in anyway, or if you are just found to be littering, then your permit to reside in the city is permanently revoked.
Ill-judged as it may be, the nationalists of Graz believe foreigners cannot possibly be as 'clean' as Graz’s new law will require them to be. They are of the opinion that these new immigrants will soon violate one rule or another, thereby attracting the uncompromising hand of the border police who will send them on their way.
For German language reviews of The Ecotopia 2121 Project, see Neue Zürcher Zeitung or Forbes Austria