My last post didn’t really scratch the surface of Yeomans’ book The City Forest: The Keyline plan for the Human Environment Revolution. Instead I got caught up thinking about art.
So I figured I’d return to this book a bit, and register some of my first impressions of it. Here they are:
1. The book seems very fresh.
I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but I have a misguided tendency to imagine that widespread awareness of impending environmental catastrophe is a relatively recent phenomenon.
So it always comes as a surprise to read somebody’s warnings from long ago – warnings which indicate that sufficient information was circulating, even as early as 1971, to start ecological alarm bells ringing. Yeomans himself was worried that it was already too late.
As far as his ideas being (depressingly) fresh, listen to this:
The chemical sciences which have been debauched by business to make billions from polluting the Planet will continue to out-shout the healthy but financially crippled biological and social sciences. Business will fight strenuously and as ruthlessly as ever against changes which threaten their influence and their profits, while at the same time, they will advertise with the power of their money, that they will save the world.
2. The logic of the book seems to run a bit like this:
(pardon the huge simplifications…)
There is a massive problem with the world.
That problem is pollution (both local and global).
The cause of this problem is humanity’s inability to design landscape properly, coupled with the large scale industrialisation of agriculture.
A major cause of pollution is mismanagement of water flows in landscape (both rain water, and human effluent). One proposed solution for this is Yeomans’ “City Forest” scheme – designed to process the nutrients of human waste, and slow the flows of rainwater.
Yeomans is proposing that forests be deliberately designed and grown in very close proximity to – or indeed, as an intrinsic part of – cities.
This is a radical extension of his techniques for working on farmland. Yeomans is proposing urban design solutions.
I’d be curious to know whether these ideas were picked up by anyone. Town planners, city designers, urban revolutionaries? Does anyone carry this little green book in their breast pocket and refer to it when laying out new urban conglomerations?