Sometime in 2008 an unprecedented global demographic transition occurred, the majority of us now live in cities. This fundamental change in where we live will undoubtedly change who we are and how we come to understand natural systems. There are now over 20 urban centers that house at least 10 million people; in 1950 there were only two. While they are generally considered the home of the most creative and artistic talent, the pioneers of ground breaking public policy and considerable economic drivers they are often simultaneously the sites of abject poverty and extreme environmental degradation. If sustainability is truly a human goal then the development of a functional land ethic must be possible within the paradoxical context of the urban environment. Increasingly then, urban green-space, will provide the experiential framework required for the development of an ecological identity, the pre-requisite for a land ethic and the practice of sustainability.
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Much of the disconnect between people and land can be attributed to differences in the rate of change. Biological evolution measures time in terms of generations, cultural evolution measures time to the nanosecond.
"A billion hours ago, human life appeared on earth.
A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged.
A billion seconds ago, the Beatles changed music forever.
A billion Coca-Colas ago, it was yesterday morning".
April 21, 2002 (Newsweek, Coca Cola add)
Adams enjoyed the unique distinction, among twentieth century Americans of
simultaneously being the best known photographer and its best know environmentalist.
"Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards"... Edward Abbey