Future Los Angeles as a 'Green Utopia'?

Using the supremely optimistic forecasts of Utopian literature, the Ecotopia 2121 Project details the best-case scenarios of the futures of real world cities across the globe. This month, we highlight the future of Los Angeles.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the streetcar car lines of Los Angeles were systematically bought-up and then closed-down and dismantled by a group of conspiring auto companies led by General Motors Ltd.

LA streetcar graveyard

In Los Angeles 2121, streetcar networks make a big comeback as a major transportation organ due to the closure and redevelopment of the highways. Instead of being paths for cars and trucks, L.A.’s highways are converted to vegetated greenways for pedestrians and cyclists. The highways would also act as a network of ecological corridors; connecting populations of wild plants and animals around Los Angeles that would otherwise be isolated.

In this scenario, cars are confined to the role of filler in new green high-density housing; an architectural style that counteracts the troubles of urban sprawl and encourages more enjoyable commuting experiences.

But how can streetcars and vegetated walkways possibly serve a city of five million? Firstly, since global warming will likely degrade L.A.’s ideal climate, it becomes a less attractive place to live there and so there’s bound to be less Americans choosing L.A. as their preferred home. Climate change can’t alter the blue skies or close proximity to the beach and mountains but it will pose four tangible threats:

1) the summers will probably grow much hotter,

2) the air will probably be much smoggier,

3) there will probably be many more wildfires,

4) and there will probably be much less water.

The extra expense to contend with all of these adversities will likely impoverish the public purse as well as the finances of private landowners.

Those that do stay in Los Angeles in the early 22nd century will have the opportunity to try out the green walkways, where upon they’ll find their commute both much cheaper and much more pleasant. Not only will people be happy to be rid of the junkscapes that an automobile city forces upon their lives, along with the accompanying pollution, the accidents and jams, and the stink and noise, they will also be wealthier because they do not have to spend so much money to buy and run their own car.

(For the full story of 'Los Angeles 2121', check out the 'Los Angeles' chapter of the book Ecotopia 2121, published by Skyhorse Publishers: NY)

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