The Green City

Written by azhar.

Let’s go green. Green is the future. Saving Gaia. These are some of the popular campaigns governments all over the world are organizing to make the Earth a better and cleaner place for the future generation. However, there is one problem – how do you really categorize a green city? A city covered with huge acres of greenery?

Several cities around the globe have just revealed their green plans. Chicago, for example, is currently working on a new green initiative known as the Eco-Bridge. It is the last of the major recommendations drafted by the master plan to provide recreational opportunities, views of the city, and calm water for rowing and sailing. There are also suggestions to include wind turbines in the project so as to provide an opportunity for the city to enjoy economic benefits from the project.

However, this project has been panned by the citizens living in Chicago themselves. One of them commented that it is a way of ‘coating the city with sugar’. He cited an incident whereby he was unable to view the surroundings of the city when standing behind a double-decker bus as it was blowing out black smoke. Some critics even highlighted the difference between a green space and a green city. They questioned the economic benefits that only a few turbines will bring and some went further to describe Chicago’s transportation service as a ‘disaster’. So is constructing a green space in a city enough to label it a green city?

Chicago is not the only country attempting to be the ideal city of the future. Abu Dhabi, a country synonymous to oil and wealth, is building a waste-free and zero-carbon city known as the Masdar City. The city will derive most of its energy from solar panels, as sunlight is a very abundant resource in the region. Any activity that involves the burning of fossil fuels is not allowed in the city. Cars, or at least those that run on gasoline, will be banned. The project even claims that the city will be zero waste through composting, recycling and sustainable practices. Public transportation systems will exist to substitute the need for cars. It is a city which embraces renewable and sustainable technologies for the future. We may be looking at the Silicon Valley of green technology.

There are several websites in the Internet which showcases initiatives or projects currently being developed by scientists all over the world. One of them is popsci.com, a website which displays the latest inventions that will shape the future of the environment. One of the innovations which is shown there is the Pod Car, an electric car which works like a grocery cart at the supermarket. Take a look at the picture below:

The pod cars can be folded and stacked when parking, thus saving a lot space. The most ingenious feature of the electric car is that it can charge itself with solar panels on the roof. In my opinion, I believe the pod cars look adorable and are helpful in conserving both energy and space. However, I do have doubts regarding the invention. Firstly, since you can stack it, I will assume that we will not have our own personalized cars. It is impossible to get you car out of its parking lot; you have to wait until the first few drivers stacked in front to leave first. Another possible drawback is that the cars may not be suitable for huge families or disabled drivers and passengers. And what if it is raining the whole week?

Another creative innovation that caught my attention is the energy highway. It is basically a highway with wind turbines which will line the highway medians. Cars passing the turbines will generate power. I think this is a very innovative solution to conserve energy. There are many car users in the world today. The only potential limitation with this green idea is that it will be very expensive to install the wind turbines along our highway medians.

If Singapore dreams to be a green city one day, it will need to start bringing in energy-efficient cars into the market. The worse is still yet to come with the surging oil prices. More people are using the public transport, making congestion inevitable. The government may also need to increase the number of bus and train services to keep up with the increasing number of commuters. I appreciate the government’s initiatives to raise awareness regarding methods to help conserve electricity. Perhaps a green city is best defined as a city filled with 'green people'.


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