Urban living is a relatively new phenomenon in terms of our evolutionary history. In fact, humanity has spent much more of its time living in close contact with the natural world that it has in its more recent environment, the cities that have become our 'natural' habitat. Yet, as Paul Shepard showed, patterns of socialization can be changed within a generation, which leaves cultural change open to very rapid transformations. In the case of urbanization, we need to reverse the trend that began with the agricultural revolution and has sped up exponentially since industrial revolution: the trend to treat the earth as a set of resources rather than as a living system filled with kin. When we raise children to treat the more-than-human world with reverence we reset an innate propensity to respect our wider home. This in turn enables a 21st century urban ethic worthy of an intelligent race.
Published on 24 September 2015