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We have many global problems to face. We are too many people, and the population continues to grow at an alarming rate. The distribution of resources is wrong. Nature is overloaded and overexploited. Cities and many countries lack self-sufficiency. Unemployment is increasing and social integration is diminishing the world over. The zoning of cities and urban sprawl causes unnecessary traffic. Our industrialised society is a tragic parenthesis in the history of man, with massive and increasing demands on ever decreasing natural resources; industrial growth is based upon gross national product and the interest rate. The environment is not included in these calculations, yet it is fundamental to industry. We can call the interest rate ”the new slavery”. Some people believe that money can multiply on its own, but it can’t!

Some of today’s trends are real challenges for town planners. The urbanisation continues - half of the population lives in cities. Half of the population is younger than 18 years old. The globalisation of trade is increasing. Local products can not compete in price with products from other countries. Decision making is centralized making it more difficult for people to influence them. The latest technological explosion opens up new worlds for us, but how can we find the right information - the real information? Our dependence on raw-material is hard to break down. Food production is industrialised – making us dependent on artificial fertilisers, artificial irrigation, biocides and gene manipulation.

The global population

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Click for a larger image

In 1900, the world population was about 1,7 billion. Of these about 0,25 billion lived in cities. Today we are more than  6 billion inhabitants and half of the population - about 3. billion - live in cities. The world population is growing by 2% per year which means it can be doubled within 35 - 50 years! By 2050, the world population is estimated at 10 billion, 75% of which will live in cities, ie 7,5 billion. At worst, new cities will be built for more than 4,5 billion within a 35 - 50 year time span. Young university students of today will experience this before they are retired.

In order to get an idea of the dimension of the problem, we can make a comparison:

1 million seconds = 12 days.

1.000 millions seconds = 32 years.

What does it mean to build homes for 4,5 billion people within 35 years? We need to build homes for 300.000 people each day for the next 35 years!

How can we sort out the need for fresh-water, handling of waste water, the need for food, energy, building material and communication for these future cities? And what about the rubbish? How can we educate young people to help them find solutions for these gigantic problems?

We very often talk about progress. What type of progress do we want? What type of progress do we want to hand over to future generations? Can a developed eco-cycle society contribute to solving some of the problems? Are eco-cycles the basis of sustainable urban development - a holistic vision of future city planning and building?

How can we mobilize the whole world to accept this challenge?

If one looks at the way human beings have done until now, it is easy to be pessimistic. The Finnish philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright believes we can easily understand the environmental problems, but have we no ability to change our way of living - change our lifestyle? Have we stopped evolving? Which way for survival? If mankind is going to have a chance of survival, we must all start to preserve the earth. If we are going to succeed in the greatest project in the history of man - to actively take care of the globe - we must start now. Our present cities must be changed and the new cities planned totally differently. Eco-cycle adaptation and a higher degree of self-sufficiency must be guidelines for future urban planning. If you are optimistic, you can imagine what an enormous market for ideas – for green products, eco-cycle adapted systems and transforming know-how. The eco-market is the fastest growing market on the earth!