Monday, April 2, 2012

In and Of the City: The Cost of Urban Ecology’s Foundational Distinction

Urban ecology, the environmental sciences youngest and most rambunctious cousin, is in a position to influence the design of the cities of the future.  Its clout comes from its willingness to think big, to think about the ecology of entire cities as if they were just any other ecosystem.  Urban ecologists call this big picture view the “ecology of the city”.

From this disciplinary perspective, Chicago is just another savannah, one where admittedly the commonest species is the human animal.

However, by taking this bird’s eye view of cities, is urban ecology losing sight of the bird-on-the-ground?  I mean this quite literally.  Is urban ecology losing it roots in natural history?  Will the successful cultivation of relationships with decision makers, municipal authorities, city planners and other governmental powers-that-be, come at the expense of urban ecologists’ knowledge about birds, wildlife, beetles and the other creeping things inhabiting the city?

Are we (and I count myself in this troupe) urban ecologists, forgetting the world-fascination, the intense delight, that comes from direct encounters with nature in the city?  

Read on at 3quarksdaily

No comments:

Post a Comment