Looking Into The Future

Greg Lindsay and John Kasarda talk about the new phenomenon – a city built around the airport.

If there was a time machine and we could fly to the future, perhaps we could see the reality of an Aerotropolis for ourselves. Greg Lindsay, a journalist and John D Kasarda , a professor in the business school at the University of North Carolina through their book Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next put a convincing case for the need for an Aerotropolis, a 21st century city, build with an airport at its centre. Kasarda’s logic is simple. “Look for yesterday’s busiest train terminals and you will find today’s great urban centres. Look for today’s busiest airports and you will find the great urban centres of tomorrow,” he opines. And Lindsay shares this vision with the readers and explains the socio-economics of the concept in a lively manner. Kasarda is the visionary and Lindsay is the voice of Kasarda, who explains the vision through a series of interviews and examples.

The book talks about the need for western cities to re-organise themselves around airports, “reshaping the way we live and transforming the way we do business”. The future lies in New Songdo in South Korea, a new city being built on an artificial island, linked by Road to Incheon International Airport. With more and more businesses relying on air travel, the 21st century belongs to Aerotropolis, where airports are the epicentres of the rapidly growing cities of the world. And they feel the western cities need to get on board fast, with China and India already ahead of them in the race to the future.

And before environmentalists raise their concerns over the exponential urbanisation, Linday quickly points out the virtuosity of airlines. He writes,”China’s airports aren’t the source of its noxious air; its coal burning power plants are. In the United States, as many as half of our own emissions emanate from ‘the built environment,” the energy consumed to build and service sprawl. We emit more carbon living in McMansions.”

Lindsay explains his case well with some help from the wisdom of Kasarda, but you can’t help toss a few questions and concerns. For example how have the great cities like London, Paris and New York survived so well without being aerotropolises. However, you can’t deny that Lindsay and Kasarda are onto something good. At the end all you really want is a crystal ball to see if the dream can indeed be true.

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