As human activity and environmental change come to be increasingly recognized as intertwined phenomena on a rapidly urbanizing planet, the field of urban ecology has risen to offer useful ways of thinking about coupled human and natural systems.
On the forefront of this discipline is Marina Alberti, whose innovative work offers a conceptual framework for uncovering fundamental laws that govern the complexity and resilience of cities, which she sees as key to understanding and responding to planetary change and the evolution of Earth. Bridging the fields of urban planning and ecology, Alberti describes a science of cities that work on a planetary scale and that links unpredictable dynamics to the potential for innovation. It is a science that considers interactions - at all scales - between people and built environments and between cities and their larger environments.
Cities That Think like Planets advances strategies for planning a future that may look very different from the present, as rapid urbanization could tip the Earth toward abrupt and nonlinear change. Alberti's analyses of the various hybrid ecosystems, such as self-organization, heterogeneity, modularity, multiple equilibria, feedback, and transformation, may help humans participate in guiding the Earth away from inadvertent collapse and toward a new era of planetary co-evolution and resilience.
Marina Alberti is professor of urban design and planning and director of the Urban Ecology Research Lab at the University of Washington.
"Cities That Think Llke Planets is a very bold and broad argument supported by the latest research in complexity studies. A timely and significant achievement."
-Hilda Blanco, interim director of the Center for Sustainable Cities at the USC Price School of Public Policy
"Reading this book is like taking a journey, discovering and gathering ecological concepts to tweak cities into promising human-and-nature trajectories. Embrace rapid change, build on uncertainty, treasure coevolved hybrid links, add a pinch each of optimism, innovation, and more. Envision our future, transform urban planning, and, indeed, relish Alberti's feast of ideas."
-Richard T. T. Forman, author of Urban Ecology: Science of Cities
"Both deep and broad, Alberti's book offers a compelling new perspective that places cities in their proper context for a changing planet. With most of the human population moving into urban areas, rethinking the role cities play in their interaction with the biosphere and other Earth systems is critical. Alberti provides a deeply creative and highly original vision for how cities can become engines for sustainability and greater human well-being. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of cities and city science."
-Adam Frank, author of About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang