But the overall conclusion seems to me irrefutable. Urbanisation is good for sustainability, because it reduces population growth and concentrates the overall human impact on the land in a smaller area. Handled properly, migration away from rural areas and into cities offers a huge opportunity for ecosystem protection and restoration. Our best hope is therefore to encourage the trends towards rising prosperity and demographic transition in developing countries, in order to allow their forests and other important natural habitats to survive and regrow. Forget the ‘back to the land’ self-indulgence of some disgruntled people in rich countries. Billions of people want to move to urban areas to achieve increasing prosperity and improve their standard of living. Let us be glad of that. They are unwitting ‘Greens’, whose efforts at self-improvement should be celebrated.
Reprinted by arrangement with The National Geographic Society and Harper Collins from The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas. Copyright © 2011 by Mark Lynas. Available wherever books or ebooks are sold.