Monday, May 25, 2009

13/05/2009 - Low carbon society symposium. Professor Nick Taylor - How sustainable is sustainability?

Professor Nick Taylor from UCL discussed how to design a sustainable transport system that will not negatively affect future generations. Current transport models frequently ignore behavioural change and there needs to be a more organic approach which includes people and their propensity to change in future transport models. We also need future transport models to be able to deal with sustainability.

In order to do this Nick suggested that cities be viewed as an organism which has the ability to evolve and change. There is no way of predicting what future generations will demand of their transport system therefore it is essential to develop one that can adapt. He made a comparison between the rate at which a city changes and the metabolic rate of an organism. Small organisms such as mice have faster metabolisms and therefore faster rate of change than larger organisms such as elephants. Does this comparison then suggest that large cities change slower than small cities, this may not be the case if you view a large city as a group of small urban environments, each of which evolve quickly and independently. The development of the urban village would significantly reduce the need to transport and work and recreational spaces would be closer to residential centres. From the audience discussion after Nick’s talk it was concluded that centralised control of transport in Dublin is key to the future development in the city, the DDTA will help this but it still involves too many agencies.

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