The city is better prepared to utilize a key resource: water.

In this illuminating TED talk, Don Carter of Carnegie Mellon University places the future of Pittsburgh and other post-industrial cities in the context of global environmental trends and concerns. He makes the point that, like many so-called “shrinking cities,” Pittsburgh hasn’t really been shrinking but, in fact, expanding in the wrong way while its population remains stable.

Nonetheless, the city hasn’t been growing. But Carter believes that the proper measure of a city’s future prospects is not population growth but, rather, growth in per capita income. On that measure, it turns out, Pittsburgh is doing just fine. The problem with Sun Belt cities, he argues, is that the Sun Belt is going to become the "Drought Belt," on its way to running out of water.  

Pittsburgh and other post-industrial cities are much better positioned for a future where "water is going to become more important than oil." Twenty percent of the surface fresh water in the world, it turns out, is in the watersheds and water bodies of the Great Lakes and American Upper Midwest.

Enjoy:

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.
    Transportation

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  2. A tent-like pavilion with a colorful stained-glass design in a cemetery at dusk.
    Design

    The New Art Galleries: Urban Cemeteries

    With their long-dead inhabitants remembered only foggily, historic cemeteries like Mount Auburn and Green-Wood use art to connect to the living.

  3. Transportation

    Will Ottawa Ever Get Its Light Rail?

    Sinkholes, winter-weary trains, and political upheaval have held the Confederation Line light-rail transit back from a seriously overdue opening.

  4. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  5. A photo of couples dancing in a park.
    Life

    The Geography of Online Dating

    When looking for love, most people don’t look far from home. That's what a big-data analysis of interactions on a dating site revealed.