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How green are Arthur C. Clarke’s predictions?

I’m always amazed when I see clips of Clarke predicting how technology will change our lives. The clip above is from 1973. In retrospect, he gets so much right, yet some parts are way off; here’s another, from 1964.

I really like this idea that the Internet (in his vision it’s based on satellite communications, not undersea cables), will free human beings from the need for gathering in large cities. This could still come true, but at the moment, governments and corporations have not realized the immense saving possibilities of “communicating instead of commuting” — imagine if you could work at home even one day a week instead of commuting to the office. Now, multiply that by millions and think of all the fuel that would not have to be burned.

But in a transitional period, it actually looks like living in densely populated cities is more green than living in the country. Public transit uses less fuel and walking is even easier than that on the environment, but for that to be practical you have to live close enough to your work.

The other aspect of this is that human beings like to get together to do things. It’s in our nature, and as much as we enjoy social media, it cannot replace the experience (good and bad) of being in the presence of other bipedal primates with big brains.

But wouldn’t it be grand to have the choice?

One Comment

  1. You can’t get much further off, at this particular moment, than the notion that more and more people will live in the country, not when for the first time in human history more people live in cities than the country and small towns (and a good many modern small towns would in most of history been cities).
    I’m not about to predict what will happen, but what logically should happen if we’re interested in survival is that cities begin to incorporate countryside and ‘green’ space to a much greater degree than in the past–there’s already a tendency to convert rooftops and even balconies to ‘garden’ space.

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