Beginning the year with an overarching vision seems a good idea. Luis Irastorza’s book “Las Ciudades del Siglo XXI- ensayo sobre sus fundamentos socioeconómicos, tecnológicos, energéticos y climáticos” (The Cities of the XXIst century- an essay on their social, economic, technological, energetic and climatic basis) brings such a vision.
The book begins with exhaustive chapters describing the current status of the social, economic, environmental and technological issues that matter for cities and their future. It is not an optimistic, or pessimistic vision, but one based on a set of structured indicators; such texts usually remind me Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “Black Swan” and his idea of a “narrative fallacy”, but I think that here the idea of incertitude (or rephrased, the certainty that there will be unexpected significant events, or “black swans”) is well integrated, and there is not such fallacy. The set of current crisis that characterize our times seem well described, as the need to act.
The author identifies, for a Spanish and a global context, a set of problems and trends, and the need to act in several domains: climate change, energetic and water efficiency, building refurbishment…
The author concludes the need to reduce the energy consumption and the greenhouse gases production; as he says, “we know what goal needs to be achieved- the almost complete decarbonisation of the economy- but not the precise path to follow nor the distribution of the effort to be carried out across sectors and countries. I wish everybody luck!”
Although the book is written in Spanish, there is an interesting translation to English of the summary, conclusions and proposals at the end.