v8n2_06 - Energy Cities and Security Tackling Climate...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Peter Droege is an international expert on energy and water in development, infrastructure, and urban design. He has served at major universities in Australia, Japan and the United States, and currently holds professorial positions at the Universities of Newcastle, Australia, and Beijing. He is a Chair of the World Council for Renewable Energy, representing Asia Pacific, and directs Epolis, a Sydney-based advisory service active in sustainable urban change. His publications include Intelligent Environments , The Renewable City , and, forthcoming, Urban Energy Transition . 55 Energy, Cities, and Security: Tackling Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Risk by Peter Droege Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know. M King Hubbert T he world economy is based on cities: cities are its very home. Global financial flows are structured within urban systems; city networks physically articulate national and international markets. Historically, cities have been built around markets, too. Founded on trade routes, they formed growing economies in themselves; they gave rise to and nurtured the dynasties and institutions that manage the decisions that guide national economies. Cities are settings of political command and control, and centres of culture. Here society’s leading images and messages are produced and packaged, shaping social reality and articulating aspirations. The great urban centers of yore were the main stages of their respective political settings. Democracy was developed by urban societies, and it was shaped and supported in the public spaces and institutions of major cities. Today, most population growth occurs in urbanized areas, with half of the world’s population dwelling here. But cities, their form, economies, and growth dynamics have also been very much defined by the energy systems dominating their eras. The manner of this interaction helps define the security profile of an age, a nation, or the balance of global relations. Global trade, sprawling cities, or periods of large-city formation are not new historical phenomena. The stories of hegemonic urban networks involving Babylon of the 18th century BC, Angkor of the 12th century AD, or London of the late 18th century are testimony to this fact. But the speed and sheer mass of the current urbanization wave, and the formation of super and mega-sized cities as a widespread, simultaneous, indeed, global phenomenon is unprecedented; it has only been acknowledged as a significant force during this past half-century. While rampant urbanization had not found wide recognition prior to
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the 1970s, it has also not been particularly well understood in the time since. The massive explosion of the world’s urban population is relatively new, gathering momentum in the first half of the 20th century and accelerating from the 1950s on. From the 1970s, a burgeoning research literature genre formed to give meaning and
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v8n2_06 - Energy Cities and Security Tackling Climate...

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