BY CFACT “UNDER COVER”
On February 22-24th, the 14th annual Ecocity World Summit was held to discuss the prospect of making cities more “sustainable.” Hosted by the city of Rotterdam and the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the Ecocity World Summit was held as a fully virtual event due to COVID-19.
CFACT attended this virtual conference to report on the various sustainability strategies proposed, which pushed the complete rethinking and even rebuilding of human civilization to better protect the environment. In fact, the conference was just declared a major “success” by event organizers. As one can imagine, like many of these United Nations-related conferences, there was some head shaking stuff proposed.
According to the conference speakers, cities of the future must be eco-friendly: car-less (e.g., “walkable”), zero emission, carbon-free, carbon-neutral, fossil fuel-free, total recycled water for heating (energy), drinking, and growing food on edible rooftops or in vertical farms, floating gardens, drone delivery, recycled everything, autonomous taxis, high-rise living in eco-friendly buildings boasting hanging green plants off every balcony, and park prescriptions from your doctor when you’re not feeling well. An ecocity is “in harmony with nature” and so are its inhabitants who mostly enjoy a vegan or vegetarian diet or minimal meat intake. It uses a circular economy and nature-based solutions so that it can combat future crises and be equitable, sustainable, safe, and resilient.
If people want to voluntarily create or pursue such a community – they’re free to do so! But the Ecocity conferences discuss the idea of how governments can force or nudge all citizens into such lifestyles whether they want to or not.
All of this, and more, was covered during the 47 sessions in this year’s 3-day virtual conference. In this article, we’ll cover some aspects from the first day, following up with another article of the remaining two.
But first, a little more background.
Typically, Ecocity summits take place at various locations around the globe. And while many may be led to believe it has international origins, in truth the Ecocity movement was born in the USA. Ecocity Builders (creator of the Ecocity World Summit) was founded by Richard Register of Berkeley, CA in 1992 — the same year of the first United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.
It has boasted many high-profile speakers through the years. In addition to Al Gore, past Summit speakers have included the Sierra Club’s David Brower, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Denis Hayes, director of the original national Earth Day (1970) and keynote speaker for the first Ecocity Summit. Today, it’s considered the longest running conference on “sustainable cities.” Partners include the United States Department of State, the Organization of American States, the Association of American Geographers, Esri and others.
According to Ecocity Builders and those in favor of the “Ecocity” movement, “An Ecocity is a human settlement modeled on the self-sustaining resilient structure and function of natural ecosystems. The ecocity provides healthy abundance to its inhabitants without consuming more (renewable) resources than it produces, without producing more waste than it can assimilate, and without being toxic to itself or neighboring ecosystems. Its inhabitants’ ecological impact reflects planetary supportive lifestyles; its social order reflects fundamental principles of fairness, justice, and reasonable equity.”
Often, grants are available to city/urban planners to help spur the “sustainable city” movement along. Those receiving this money use it to support the UN’s doom and gloom narratives of an “overpopulation”, “species extinction”, and “climate change” apocalypse. They maintain humanity is on an environmental trajectory of no return unless it fundamentally transforms the economy, consumerism, and mindset of the public to match UN dogma. Simply put, this means implementing so-called socialist “solutions” of drastic reductions and restrictions on the food we eat, how we drive, how we heat and cool our homes, and how we raise a family.
CFACT, for its part, has previously covered the 2017 Ecocity World Summit in Melbourne, Australia. There we caught on tape a run-in with Al Gore. After his artificially packed speech where hundreds of educators and students were invited in for free, CFACT’s Marc Morano and I tracked the former Vice President down (not too difficult with an idling Lexus SUV and Sedan in an enclosed parking garage to tip us off). After an hour or so waiting (with the vehicles in near sight), our opportunity to give him a copy of CFACT’s Climate Hustle movie came … and then went … as Gore declined the film once he realized who we were. Yep, he quickly scurried off with his many handlers to his getaway cars. The horror on the faces of his aides when they saw the movie we offered to him was quite memorable! You can watch that exchange here.
Mr. Gore didn’t attend this year’s virtual Ecocity World Summit, but there were other “experts” who shared Al Gore’s vision who did, including an appointee by the Obama-Biden and Biden-Harris administrations. We’ll get to that now.
The highlights for the first day were presentations from “Ecological Engineer” Dr. Nadina Galle and internationally acclaimed architect Winy Maas.
Dr. Nadina Galle is a TEDx speaker and “Ecological Engineer” from Canada who did her PhD field work in Boston at MIT’s “Sensible City Lab”. Dr. Galle began her talk showing a picture of a North American Suburb calling it “cookie cutter urban development.” Without acknowledging the many layers of construction it takes to build a home and neighborhood, she asserted suburban development wipes out “entire ecosystems” — even after the homes are built the shrubs and greenery are planted back in. She continued, “I always thought that was so strange, why do we first completely decimate an ecosystem, only to then still value it to a certain degree, and try to put in some shrubs and greenery after the fact?”
To Galle, and other Summit presenters, we must transform our mindset to nature and nature-based solutions. Declaring “we are currently undervaluing trees and other greenery in our cities” Galle shared how Melbourne, Australia (after a long period of drought and losing many trees) assigned thousands of trees their own email addresses so people can help report on the trees’ condition. “What happened,” she said, “was surprising. People started using these email addresses to send love letters to the trees, to express their emotions, to thank the trees for being there, to thank the trees for being so pretty and giving them oxygen.”
Dr. Galle supports a “smart city” concept that utilizes something called the “Internet of Things” to create data driven cities that employ monitors and sensors to “improve civic processes and the quality of life for citizens.” She claims this will connect people to what she calls the “Internet of Nature”.
She concluded her keynote address by speaking enthusiastically about doctors connecting their patients with nature to foster healing. She prescribed visits to parks (also known as “park prescriptions”) and new data driven apps like NatureDose and NatureScore (both developed in Bend, Oregon) to calculate how much time a person spends in nature, and hen links that “quality of nature to your health” within a certain radius of any address in the United States.
Dutch architect, landscape architect, former professor at Yale University and Ohio State, and urbanist Winy Maas also gave an energetic presentation called “Future Green Cities.” He showed fascinating transformations of cities into “green”, garden-like “ecocity” utopias, and th describe how this can be accomplished structurally considering factors like sun, shade, recycling water systems throughout buildings while feeding plants along the way, soil compensation, and using wood (instead of concrete) for high rise buildings. He used 3D computer imaging and The Green Maker software to transform New York City, for instance, into a jungle. “Fifth Avenue finally looks nice,” Maas said. His intent was to demonstrate how “the knowledge of buildings” together with the “knowledge of plants” can recreate the built world into an ecocity world. Winy snapped at solar panels on the ground saying , “they destroy our agriculture.”
During Q&A, an attendee named Suzie from the Rotterdam audience asked, “more green buildings create more biodiversity which means living more closely to more animals like even possibly bugs or even snakes which is a little bit annoying to me; do you have any ideas about this aspect?”
Dr. Galle responded with a story from the 1990s, close to where she grew up, of a large number of coyotes that eventually killed a toddler in someone’s backyard. She mentioned coyotes have been an issue in the United States also. “The Netherlands is going through this right now with the introduction of the wolf,” Galle added, noting the hindrance to agriculture and people feeling unsafe. But then she said, “This speaks to a larger problem that we’ve created as humans as being so disconnected from our natural world that these are now things that we’ve become scared of.” Before handing the question over to Winy she said, “design is a critical component to creating communities that can actually live in harmony with nature.” Then she encouraged Suzie, “to seek out the bugs and snakes and other things [Suzie’s] scared of to come to some better understanding” on how to coexist.
Co-host/moderator, Andy van den Dobbelsteen, who earlier told us he was a vegetarian, responded to a comment about re-introduced wolves having killed 20 chickens in the Netherlands recently, saying, “Maybe these wolves have killed about twenty chickens and maybe a few sheep, but we human beings kill 120 million a year in Holland alone…so who’s the wolf here?”
Stay tuned for further reporting from CFACT from the Ecocity World Summit, including analysis of an eye-opening presentation given by a Obama/Biden/Harris appointee.