The Independent Looks at The Green Movement at Fifty

The Independent/Screen capture

The British "quality broadsheet" The Independent is running a series on 50 years of the environmental movement, dating it back to the publishing of Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring.

This impassioned and angry account of how America's wildlife was being devastated by a new generation of chemical pesticides began the modern environment movement: it awoke the general consciousness that we, as humans, are part of the natural world, not separate from it, yet we can destroy it by our actions.

Of course, then they have to deal with the Big Lie spread by groups in America like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which claim that banning DDT killed millions, which they do here.

I was asked to contribute, discussing the progress in architecture and planning during the last fifty years.

Public Square in Milan, filled with cars/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

50 years on: Our attitude to environment and architecture has hardly changed.

So much has changed in terms of our built environment over the last fifty years. In 1962 the International style ruled our skylines, and people lived and worked in towers with floor to ceiling glass, made of carbon-intensive concrete and sealed with petrochemical caulks and neoprene. Developers plundered the countryside building faux Georgian tract housing. New motorways were being built everywhere to accommodate the ever increasing number of gas guzzling cars. Innovative architects like Peter and Alison Smithson were reinventing housing with projects like Robin Hood Gardens.

Today we build taller towers with better floor to ceiling glass; instead of an insulating value of next to nothing, they have double that, almost nothing. We are still cooking limestone and crushing rock to make concrete, responsible for 5% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. Prince Charles is building faux Georgian tract houses. People are reinventing housing and tearing down Robin Hood Gardens. Cars are everywhere; they are cleaner but marginally more efficient as they got bigger, heavier and air conditioned.

More in the Independent

Tags: Rachel Carson | United Kingdom | Urban Life

2014 Gift Guide

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK