Ronald Bailey was not too impressed with the Rifkin op-ed on urbanization and the environment.
As humanity has urbanized, we have become ever less subject to nature's vagaries. For instance, a globally interconnected world made possible by the transportation networks between cities means that a crop failure in one place can be overcome by food imports from areas with bumper crops. Similarly resources of all types can be shifted quickly to ameliorate human emergencies caused by the random acts of a brutal insensate nature. Autonomy is just another word for freedom.
The further good news is that the movement of humanity's burgeoning population into the thousand of megacities foreseen that Rifkin is part of a process that ultimately will leave more land for nature. Today cities occupy just 2 percent of the earth's surface, but that will likely double to 4 percent over the next half century. In order to avoid this ostensibly terrible fate Rifkin proclaims, "In the next phase of human history, we will need to find a way to reintegrate ourselves into the rest of the living Earth if we are to preserve our own species and conserve the planet for our fellow creatures." Actually, he's got it completely backwards. Humanity must not reintegrate into nature-that way lays disaster for humanity and nature. Instead we must make ourselves even more autonomous than we already are from her.
Since nothing is more destructive of nature than poverty stricken subsistence farmers, boosting agricultural productivity is the key to the human retreat from wild nature.