The bible reading I did today along with COVID-19 got me thinking about cities. It was the familiar story about Sodam and Gomorrah. The bible notes commentator pointed out the main reason God wanted to destroy the cities was not gay sex (which in any case was going to be non-consensual), but as is pointed out in Ezekiel that the people oppressed the poor and needy.
I live in a city and in general they are great places to live. There are problems though with exploitation, crime immorality and pollution – as well as disease. When cities work they work well and are surprisingly sustainable. For example when you think about it food and other services can be delivered to a large population in a small area. Along with gas and electricity.
But so can disease, violence and pollution and much of what a city consumes come from outside its boundaries maybe from thousands of miles away. Some cities, particularly in the US are so spread out that they require the use of private cars and make public transport difficult to introduce.
In the age of peak oil and climate change we need to redesign our living and cities to make them more sustainable. Most of the energy cities use should come from within them. Buildings need to be made much more energy efficient. We should consider more homeworking and make walking and cycling much more dominant (you’re a lot less likely to pick up COVID-19 from these activities). We should try and grow as much food in or near the cities as possible (this was clearly the case in Genesis).
Hopefully the virus will lead to some more sustainable changes as people hopefully learn lessons from it. In the meanwhile wash your hands and stay safe.