Conservation a close-up of skyscrapers reveal different colors and geometric shapes

Meditations on Megacities

As my driver skillfully navigated the on-the-ground chaos of screeching motorcycle horns and hellish gridlock, I turned my head to the passing still lifes. Tent encampments, sidewalks overflowing with garbage, decaying buildings, commuters with backpacks clutched protectively to their fronts. Each as characteristic a scene of a city as familiar to me as my hometown in San Francisco. From these blurred impressions, a question crystallized. Is urbanization — as closely related to human development and progress as environmental damage, vulnerability to disease, and inequality — a net good for people and the planet?

Read more