I often hear Americans whine about climate change, complaining that even if it is real, there's nothing we can do about it, because no matter how hard we try China will never stop polluting so it's all pointless. As a counterpoint, I present the Garden City:
In 1902, a self-taught urban planner named Ebenezer Howardpublished his utopian vision for "Garden Cities"--self-contained circular towns radiating from a central city, connected only by train. Neither town nor country, they were a dense, compact fusion of the two: suburbia without sprawl.
Although Garden Cities never really caught on in the West, the Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture has resurrected the idea with Chinese characteristics: a “prototype city” twice as populous and 20 times as dense, with a tower taller than the Empire State Building at its core. Working with one of China’s largest real estate developers, the firm aims to build them by the score.
The idea is that the small, dense cities, surrounded by "greenbelts," will be built, people will move to the cities, then, when they reach capacity, instead of sprawling out, with new, haphazard construction spreading across the landscape the way it does in American cities, a satellite city will be built nearby, connected only by high-speed rail, to start taking in the new population growth.
It's genius, and it's been around conceptually for over a hundred years. China has plenty of problems, but it turns out destroying the world with pollution isn't one of them -- or, at least, they're doing more to make it not one of them than America is. (Cough cough fetishistic individualism is going to kill us all cough cough)
We could use this kind of design in America. I say we fence in New York, bulldoze the suburbs, and start building satellite cities until we've replaced the necessary housing. (Not necessarily in that order.)