Sustainable City Regions: Re-localising Landscapes in a Globalising World

  • Robert Thayer Jnr


This paper emphasises physical, technological and economic variables in a globalising world, and how they might influence local economies and local landscapes. With the expected 'big rollover' in demand versus supply of oil in the next decade, the scale of the landscape will change in response to a permanent rise in the price of transportation and shipping fuels. Air travel will become less accessible, as will shipping of high mass, low value-added materials and goods. This will necessitate the re-establishment of more local supplies and shorter transport distances for people and goods, and for the first time in human history the perceived size of the world will expand. In response, the 'grain' of the landscape will become finer. More people will populate the rural landscape, while cities and towns will become more compact. The landscape is influenced by the three major operative technological systems (matter, energy and information). While the depletion of oil will greatly affect matter and energy, it will have less influence on information, which is relatively immune from entropic thermodynamic effects. While source-to-end-use distances will shorten, world per-capita energy expenditures will fall, and more local goods will be created and consumed, it remains to be seen whether this contraction in the scale of the instrumental landscape will be matched by more localised ownership, or by continued globalisation of corporate systems of production and distribution. Assuming the former is preferable, the paper concludes by suggesting that the bioregion, or natural 'life place', is the appropriate location for the protection of biodiversity, sustained use of resources, and identity and life satisfaction of local inhabitants.