Whole Earth Discipline

Infrastructure makes cities possible, and it has to be rebuilt every few decades. According to a report in 2007 by the infrastructure consultants Booz Allen Hamilton, “Over the next 25 years, modernizing and expanding the water, electricity, and transportation systems of the cities of world will require approximately $40 trillion.” What would infrastructure totally rethought in Green terms look like? China is currently building 170 new mass transit systems. High-speed rail is finally coming to the United States. With the coming of “smart grids” and microgrids, the distribution of electricity will be reshaped toward greater adaptability as well as efficiency.

A nice thought experiment, but high-speed rail still hasn’t arrived and there’s major political obstacles to rebuilding the grid. One of the ways that technological solutions fail to sufficiently address the crisis is that they don’t account for cultural or social forces that might impede their adoption.