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Special Event

The People's Planet

Aired December 24, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NARRATOR: In the last hundred years, the world population has quadrupled from 1 1/2 billion to 6 billion. But the populations of cities have grown 15 times, and they're still growing as the rural poor move to the city for work and the middle classes spread out to the sprawling suburbs of metropolitan areas.

One United Nations report warns that if current trends continue three-quarters of the world's people could be city dwellers in the next 50 years. The report also says more people are already born in cities than anywhere else.

City life can be vibrant and exciting, with its fast pace, diverse pace and culture. But environmentalists say cities take a heavy toll on the world's resources.

City planers and environmentalists are searching for a new urban ecology. They're looking for novel ways to organize cities so city life won't cause what many fear will be irreversible damage to the planet.

Cities are the largest artifacts humankind has ever created, and here in Egypt the seeds of city life were sown by nomads settling in the Nile Valley from about 5000 B.C. They grew crops, built the first villages, and later the Great Pyramids.

From a casual observer from space, none of these early cities would have shown a human presence on Earth. By 1800 A.D., Beijing and London are the only cities with a million inhabitants. But it wasn't until the invention of electricity in the 1900s that are space-watcher might have seen the faint glimmer of growing cities.

Today, the human presence is very clear, with half the world's population living in city environments. Herbert Girardet is the author of the book "Creating Sustainable Cities" and was a consultant to this documentary series.

HERBERT GIRARDET, URBAN ECOLOGIST: This is the age of the city, and although cities only take up about 2 percent of the world's land surface, they use about 75 percent of the world's resources. So they have an enormous effect on the planetary environment. And this is something that we have to take into account when we look ahead in the way we plan our cities in the future.

It is absolutely crucially important that we reduce the impact of urban lifestyles on the planet as it is at the present time.

NARRATOR: In this program, we'll visit four cities. They share many of the same problems, but each offers a unique solution. Curitiba in Brazil is famous for its city planning. Shanghai in China has come up with strategies for how it uses its land. In Cairo, urban farming helps feed a growing population.

But first, London, England, a city struggling to limit its use of resources and get rid of its waste.

London began as a series of small villages. Over the centuries, it became the vast city it is today. One of those early villages is High Gate in north London.

Breakfast for the Bradshaws: using all the forms of energy taken for granted in the developed world -- for heating and lighting, and of course, cooking food. Ian takes advantage of the Internet revolution and works from home. Christine (ph) is an actress preparing for a major drama festival. Scott is 9 and Laura nearly 5. Their school is nearby.

Like many Londoners, they've seen their shopping choices grow over the years, especially the food selection.

CHRISTINE BRADSHAW, LONDONER: You go into the supermarket, and every product that you really want is there. You haven't got to even wait for things in be in season. When I was young, you had raspberries and strawberries in the summer, and peaches if you were lucky.

Today, you go into (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and it's there. Whenever you want to buy it, it's there.

GIRARDET: To make current urban lifestyles possible we are sucking in resources from all over the world. All transport systems start and end in cities, and the reality is today we do not strictly live in a civilization. We live in a mobilization: the mobilization of resources of all kinds from all around the world that end up being used and consumed mainly by city people.

NARRATOR: Before it goats to town, food can rack up plenty of frequent-flier miles. When it's flown in from the other side of the world, the trip takes of hundreds of times more energy than the food itself gives when eaten. Environmentalists balk at what they call an extravagant use of energy.

They call the impact of a city's resource use an ecological footprint. This is the amount of land each city needs to supply it with all its food and lumber. It also includes the area of vegetation needed to reabsorb waste gases like carbon dioxide.

This is a graphic view of London's ecological footprint. The city's 7 million citizens make up about 12 percent of Britain's total population. But Herbert Girardet says London uses the equivalent of all of Britain's productive land to meet demands for resources and wastes. And he says the footprint actually extends even further, because London pulls in resources from around the world.

GIRARDET: Each one of us is responsible for about two tons of rubbish a year. A lot of this waste will take thousands of years to decompose in the ground. Plastics in particular will take a huge amount of time. There's also plenty of food, as the presence of the gulls here indicates. And all of that simply gets chucked away. Out of sight, out of mind. We simply dump the stuff somewhere and it disappears forever, we think.

However, the reality is that we cannot afford ultimately to continue with this. Currently, we have a linear system of using resources which comes from somewhere in nature, we use them in our daily lives and they end up as waste in a place like this. We need to find and develop a circular metabolism for our cities, where all waste products from our cities can be reabsorbed and reused as raw materials for new products that we use in our daily lives.

NARRATOR: Girardet believe people must think about the future when they determine how to live today. But in a big city, he says people often wonder if their small personal contribution will make any difference. Environmentalists often quote the words of Buckminster Fuller that are on so many bumper-stickers: "Think globally, act locally": like this community that saw the forest and the trees.

Croydon is a south London borough. It was among the first to come up with a plan for sustainably managing woodlands.

The borough works with a group of environmental entrepreneurs called Bioregional. They seek ways to make profitable use of local resources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we do here is we use borough-cultural waste -- i.e., tree surgery from street trees to make charcoal, which is then sole locally (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like B&Q, BP and other local outlets.

In London, some 50 percent of the green waste from borough- culture goes to landfill, which represents a significant cost financially. I mean, it's roughly 38 pounds per ton.

What we're trying to show is that the street trees are not a burden but actually a resource: 80 percent of the population, or something like that, live in the urban environment. I think this can demonstrate, you know, the value of trees and that trees can be looked after and produced and bring benefits to the community.

NARRATOR: Pooran Desai is the managing director of Bioregional.

POORAN DESAI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BIOREGIONAL: Bioregional was set up by a group of residents in south London, and we were very keen to see more of our own needs met from local resources. So we saw around ourselves a lot of material going to waste. We saw and farmland not being managed and we saw our woodlands not being managed, and instead we're importing materials from all around the globe. A very heavy cost to that: a lot of transport, a lot of congestion with lorries coming into London. And yet, we had all these resources on our own doorstep, and we could convert them into salable products, generate local jobs. And so, that was where we started.

NARRATOR: The message has been around for years, but opinion polls show many city dwellers find it hard to make even small changes. Most Londoners are only too aware that they should do more recycling. Christine Bradshaw keeps the household's paper for collection by the local council, but husband Ian is less committed.

IAN BRADSHAW, LONDONER: If it's relatively convenient, I'll do it, but it's got to be convenient.

NARRATOR: And there's modern convenience that takes cares of waste that can't be left in the recycling bin. Today's Londoners produce some 130,000 gallons of sewage a day. A century ago, it was sent as fertilizer to farms that grew food for the city.

Sewage was taken by night from the townhouses to the surrounding farms and orchards of London. Each house had its own cesspit, which often caused problems from neighbors.

In October 1660, from his house in Seething Lane near the Tower of London, the diaryist Samuel Peeps wrote: "Going down to my cellar, I put my foot into a great heap of turds by which I find that Mr. Turner's house of office is full and come into my cellar, which does trouble me."

As London grew, the sewage was piped into the rivers, which were also the drinking water supply for the city. In the mid-19th century, after years of soiling their own nest, more than 40,000 Londoners died in a series of terrible cholera epidemics. 1858 was called the year of the great stink, because one hot July day the smell from the polluted river was so bad it even stopped politicians from talking. The stench almost overcame members of the houses of parliament debating inside. Something had to be done.

The city commissioned civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette to build huge pipelines on either side of the River Thames to rid London of its noxious waste. Two huge pumping stations were built 12 miles from the city's center. This was the final destination for London's main sewers.

This pumping station opened in 1865. With its four massive steam-powered beam engines, it was one of the high points of Victorian art and engineering. The huge engines pumped the sewage into a reservoir and then released it into the river, where it was carried by the tide out to sea. At least, it solved the problem for the time being.

Most of world's cities copied London's example of sewage disposal. Although sea dumping is now banned in Europe, environmentalists say it left an awful legacy for the world's oceans. In this stylish building, one of Europe's most advanced incinerators handles the sewage for over 7 million Londoners a day. In this space-age incinerator, compressed and dried sewage becomes fuel that supplies energy for the plant. The fuel's waste ash is used to build roads and buildings, though some environmental purists would rather see it return to the land as fertilizer.

West of London, in the city of Bristol, the local water company is converting the solid sewage to fertilizer. The sewage waste from the city's 700,000 people go through various processes. It's dried and made into pellets.

This drum is at the heart of the process. After a short spin at very high temperatures, the granules are sent to the farm. Then it's spread on the fields just like conventional chemical fertilizer. But in this case, it's mostly organic. This returns nutrients to the soil, where our food is grown. It's a complete cycle.

While some villages and towns are doing their part, the tougher challenge for environmentalists is to get individuals to change their habits. For families like the Bradshaws, that would mean giving up their car to help reduce traffic and pollution. Would they do that?

I. BRADSHAW: Unlikely, because it's -- it's unlikely, because it is a freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it.

C. BRADSHAW: Well, the problem is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cars. It's very difficult. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) shopping. I mean, I come home at 2:00 (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wait. Now, unless you can have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) delivery service (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's very difficult. And the kids go to different drama schools (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and without a car they couldn't go.

NARRATOR: The same reasons are given by many or households whose cars city the streets. But urban planners say it's difficult for a metropolis to be sustainable with so many cars. Adding to the problem is the reliance on global imparts to feed city dwellers and furnish their homes

Environmentalists are calling for lighter ecological footprints, and if it's a problem for London and its 7 million citizens, imagine what it's like for China, where they're building 600 new cities in the next 10 years. We'll explore that when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NARRATOR: Shanghai is a city of contrasts. Today, centuries of tradition are still visible as a vigorous new economy grows around it. Urban poverty still exists, but so does a new upwardly mobile middle class.

In the past 20 years, Shanghai has changed dramatically, and money has been the driving force. The new stock exchange rivals its Western counterparts. It seems as if every one in Shanghai is playing the market.

Most of the city's wealth relies on exports. City figures show Shanghai's gross domestic product surpassed $40 billion in 1997. Under Mao Tse-tung's bronzed gaze, capitalism has taken hold in communist China.

Like the West, the East has also caught new economy fever. This is Everbright Securities, a brokerage house where dreams are made and lost as Chinese citizens play the stock markets. It's as accessible as a videogame arcade.

As China engages more and more in the world economy, over 300 million people are expected to move from the country to the cities. The government says that in the next 10 years, it will build more than 600 new cities. These new city-dwellers will learn new skills. move up the economic ladder, and use more energy and natural resources.

The Worldwatch Institute predicts Shanghai will have some of the world's traffic congestion and air pollution.

Gao Shong-Zsu (ph) and Sai Shao Way (ph) are still this in their 20s. They're married, and they fit the profile of Shanghai's new young elite: prosperous, upwardly mobile and optimistic for their city. They share this apartment block with other young Chinese like themselves, and they own a car.

GAO SHONG-ZSU (through translator): I studied in Shanghai for five years. I found it changed very quickly. I felt it would give me a lot of opportunities for career development, so I decided to stay here.

SAI SHAO WAY (through translator): I didn't go to university in Shanghai. I went to Nanjing. I was there for four years, then I came back and Shanghai had changed a lot. When I went to Nanjing in '92, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) didn't look like it does now. None of the flyovers or highways had been built, but when I came back, they were all there.

GAO SHONG-ZSU (through translator): I love the speed of change here. Why is that? Because it gives ordinary Chinese the greatest opportunity to bet rich quick and go get the kind of lifestyle they want.

I don't know what I dislike most. I haven't fount out yet.

NARRATOR: They both work at the Volkswagen factory, one of the many new car production plants that have sprung up in Shanghai. In 1997 alone, the city produced 230,000 cars.

Gao Shong-Zsu is a motor engineer. He speaks German with his employers.

The cars produced here are the vehicles of choice for many of Shanghai's affluent citizens.

Sai Shao Way works as a lab technician in the same factory. They both say they're lucky to have secure jobs. They represent China's new economy, and they're much like millions of other couples in cities throughout the developing world. Then have many of the same expectations as people in the West, and as the Chinese economy grows to meet the Western ideal, the consequences are much the same: Rapid building development, more offices and factories, more housing, more roads, more pollution all erode the quality of life.

GAO SHONG-ZSU (through translator): The traffic infrastructure has improved and the director of the traffic bureau has done a great deal of work. But I fear Shanghai is growing very quickly, so the roads need to develop quickly, too.

There are more and more cars, so we need more roads and wider roads. Our whole economic development relies on these faster roads.

NARRATOR: In China, there's now only one for every 650 people, but as they become more affluent, it's likely more and more Chinese will want to own cars. As that happens, environmental forecasters warn it could lead to a massive increase in greenhouse gases that cause global warming more pollution that will choke China's urban centers.

But environmentalists also say it's not just private cars that are contributing to Shanghai's problems. Like London, the city now imports consumer goods and food from other countries, which uses a lot of energy in transportation. In their local shop, Sai and Gao are table to draw from this global grocery store, but Shanghai is slowing the trend toward imported food. It maintains food production right inside the city limits.

The city authorities oversee a belt of more than 700,000 acres of prime farmland to help feed its 14 million citizens. That's half the total area of the city. This is Shanghai's pantry, protecting it and keeping it full is a central plank of the city's strategy to grow a sustainable supply of fresh food.

Inside the city, large numbers of small plots of land like this also make a contribution to Shanghai's food supply.

The Chinese say their ancient farming tradition were in many ways sustainable methods. Here, Shanghai build on that sustainability by farming available space and using the city's sewage as fertilizer.

66-year-old Jang Chen Wan (ph) belongs to an older generation of farmers. He's seen many changes.

JANG CHEN WAN, FARMER (through translator): Big changes. Our homes were awful. After the bridge was built, there was a big change. Big buildings appeared. Before there were no big building. All the big buildings here are on new.

There in the east it was all fields. Previously, there lots of small ponds. Now, they've all been filled and they filled high-rise blocks.

We sell our vegetables at the markets. There are several big markets in Ing-Chung (ph).

Jang Chen Wan says he'll have to move another plot of land as the city grows. The old says are changing. That's inevitable if Shanghai continues to grow and reach out for global markets. Analysts wonder if China can hold onto its traditional agrarian roots while competing in an aggressive new economy.

Next, another city that has used its rich heritage to help build a sustainable future.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NARRATOR: Cairo is a megacity with over 11 million people. Like many ancient cities, it wasn't planned, but grew haphazardly, the rich and the poor sectors of society living elbow to elbow. During the last 30 years, millions of people have moved here from the farming villages in search of a new life and new opportunities.

And many migrants brought with them their ideas about growing food. They have given Cairo a rich culture of urban farming. This self-sustaining food supply helps the city limit its ecological footprint.

Said Samir runs a research institute that studies urban farming around the city. This morning, Said talks to two farmers who've worked here most of their lives. Tari (ph) works the land in the afternoons. He helps his brother-in-law, Hag Ahmed Abdillah (ph), who has a large family and farms full-time.

SAID SAMIR, SOCIOLOGIST (through translator): Do you think this land is important for the town?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's important for food. That's the crucial thing. The town lives on the countryside. If the agricultural land ceases to be, then the town won't be able to feed itself.

The land must be cultivated so the people can feed themselves.

NARRATOR: Much in this urban farmland is protected from development by tough city laws. Water from the Nile is crucial. It irrigates fields of vegetables for the local markets and clover crops for animal feed. The animals also provide manure for fertilizing the fields.

In farmhouses, people use century-old bread ovens to bake bread for the family. They sell the surplus at the market.

Locals say the food is a lot fresher than anything brought into the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Produce arriving from outside the city takes a day to be gathered, then a day to arrive. It hangs around for yet another day, then it takes a day to sell it. But our produce is sold on the day we pick it.

SAMIR (through translator): And the people like to eat your fresh food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course, yes. When the produce reaches the consumer the day he eats it, he will notice the difference compared to eating something that is produced the day before.

NARRATOR: But one look at Cairo's skyline shows it's not just the land that's farmed. Rooftop space is used for gardening and animals. Nearly one-fifth of Cairo's household keep animals for food.

SAMIR: The place we are in now is a typical rooftop of popular districts in Cairo. People use animals and raise them to cope with the high prices and low income, and majority of population of Cairo live in areas like this. And for them, there are two different ways to cope with the high prices: to raise animals and poultry, and at the same time it's like a hobby. And this hobby is a habit that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) getting used to, because most of the population of Cairo are coming from outside.

And they come and bring the country traditions and hobbies with them.

As we can see here, most of the rooftops, there are animals, there are goats, there are chickens, ducks. And for them, as well, it's much better than the stuff they bring from the market, because they say it has more, rich flavor, homemade raising food.

NARRATOR: Samir says this a classic example of small-scale sustainable farming. It helps feed the city and replenishes the land at the same time.

In one of 500 small factories hidden away in Cairo's streets, other frugal and sustainable ideas are at work. Abdul Wahid (ph) inherited this factory from his father. He's run the family business for more than 30 years. The plant produces over 3,000 small wheels a day for trolleys, beds and refrigerators. They use waste metal from a local air-conditioning factory.

The wheels are a fifth of the price of imports and save on tons of steal at the same time. The factory next door has been here for more than 150 years. They buy glass waste from Cairo's garbage collectors and recycle over 220 pounds a day. Glass workers make lamp shades for the mosques and other items for the local shops and tourist market.

Cairo grew with almost no planning. Through the years, it held onto ancient traditions that make it one of the liveliest cities in the world. In a moment, we'll journey 6,000 miles away to another city, which hopes that careful planning is the key to a sustainable future.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NARRATOR: Curitiba in southern Brazil is in many ways an urban success story. Among city planers and architects, the name Curitiba has become synonymous with the idea of planning a greener city.

It's known for its innovative approaches to land use, mass transport systems and citizen projects. In the city, a lot of old industrial sites were given a new lease on life. This opera house is made from an old quarry, and all around town are these so-called "lighthouses of knowledge": libraries usually combined with police watchtowers.

Schoolchildren learn about the Earth at places like this, the University of the Environment. The building was made from old telephone poles.

Rosanna (ph) is one of the university's resident performance artists. She takes the children on a history tour of the city.

She tells them how the forest Indians were pushed out by the 17th century Portuguese settlers. The settlers came to dig for riches in the ore mines further north.

Curitiba was founded on an important horse caravan route. It was officially declared a city in 1842. More European immigrants poured in to make a life from the grasslands, forests and mines.

Economic prosperity drew more people into Curitiba, so the local authorities had to think about the future development of the city. Over the last 40 years, Curitiba's research and planning institute has become famous as a powerhouse of change. In the mid-1960s, the government held a competition for the best master plan to shape the city, one in which land use and transport are linked together.

Jaime Lerner (ph), the current state governor and three times mayor, led the winning team.

JAIME LERNER, GOVERNOR, STATE OF PARANA: The vision I have for a city is a structure of living and working together. If I've been asked, "What makes a city more human?" I would say integration of functions, integrations of income, integration of age. The more you mix, the more human the city became.

It's the balance between the daily needs and the potential of the city, because if you work only with the needs, you won't change the city. If you work only with the potential, you'll be far from people. That's what I called a strategic view about the city.

NARRATOR: Lerner's team pushed ahead with its strategic plan to control the flow of traffic in the city: Five main arteries, seen here in red, lead away from the city center. This is one of the main arteries. It has a dedicated lane for high-speed buses. Normal traffic travels in the other lanes, and one-way streets take traffic into and away from downtown.

The plan has also lowered congestion in the historic city center by only allowing high-density housing and businesses to be built closer to the transport routes. The further away from the busline, the smaller the building can be.

The city plan focuses the highest density of people closest to public transportation. City planners believe if they make public transportation more convenient, then fewer people will rely on their cars.

The question on Lerner's mind is, does the city work for the people? The De Rosa (ph) family lives in a small community 6 miles from downtown. They came here from Sao Paulo a few years ago when Flavio's firm went bankrupt. Now, he works as a security guard in the city center. His wife, Judith, is a homemaker. She makes a little extra money buying and selling clothes, and also organizes community projects. The two girls have left full-time school and work in a bakery during the day. Since they don't have a car, they all use public transportation.

Flavio earns only $161 a month, so they're happy about the low- priced bus service. A flat fare of 50 cents takes them right into the city center.

Today, Judith and daughters, Flavia and Joiesse (ph), are heading into town to pay some bills and do some shopping. To get downtown, Judith and her daughters take three different busses. This is the orange feeder bus, which takes passengers from the outskirts to the district terminals. Their 50-cent fare is good for their entire journey.

The wealthier commuters, who live closer to the center, subsidize the service.

Buses packed with riders make much more efficient use of fuel than individual cars, yet Curitiba still has half a million car owners that crowd the streets.

LERNER: Every city has to deal with the problem of cars and public transport. There is no city in the world that can be feasible for the -- just working with the individual car.

NARRATOR: With three car factories nearby, a big part of Curitiba's economy relays on the auto industry. Lowering the impact of automobiles is one of Lerner's biggest challenges.

LERNER: The problem is we have to prepare a good alternative, because if it's not a good alternative, the people, they won't change -- at least in their daily itenary.

NARRATOR: For the second part of the journey, Judith and the girls transfer to a silver express bus. From here on, bus changes are made inside these Plexiglas tube stations with built-in ramps for the disabled.

Ten private bus companies own the system, but Curitiba's transportation authority is managed by a private-public partnership.

LERNER: It's run by private initiative, and we are paying them by kilometer. The balance is made by the tariff. If it's too high, the people won't afford. If it's too low, the quality will go down.

NARRATOR: For Judith and her daughters, the journey across town was fast and cheap. They've arrived at one of Curitiba's so-called "citizen streets." There are six of them spread evenly around the city. They citizen streets are all-purpose community centers: It's a combination sports center, medical clinic and bill-paying office. People can pay municipal bills from taxes to utilities. Today Judish is paying her electricity bill.

LERNER: We're not a paradise. In this city, we have problems. We have slums. We have many problems that we have in other Brazilian cities and other Brazilian cities in the world. But the main difference is the respect given to people.

NARRATOR: To keep the city more literally green, Lerner's environmental program allots about 55 yards of green space for every citizen. They've planning for more than 1 1/2 million trees in the last 20 years. And recycling helps too: This meter show the citizens how many trees they're saving by recycling paper.

Judith is an enthusiastic recycler and helps organize another city initiative: the Green Exchange. People can take reusable waste to one of 55 locations around town.

JUDITH DE ROSA, HOMEMAKER (through translator): We like it. It's been two years that I've been taking the rubbish, and it's good, because we clean the streets's well. We separate all the rubbish and every fortnight the truck comes and collects it all.

NARRATOR: Every two weeks, residents separate their recyclable garbage and give it to their trash collectors. In return. they get a token that they can exchange for a cart full of fresh vegetables and fruit or bus tokens. Most of them choose the high-quality food that is grown on farms near the city.

The recyclable are sent here, to the main recycling center. Curitiba produces 1,100 tons of garbage a day. The city's goal is a 70 percent recycling rate, but they haven't reached it yet. But Jaime Lerner says even if they haven't reached that goal, it's a positive solution for the city's waste.

LERNER: I believe that every city in the world in less than two years can make very important and positive changes.

NARRATOR: Of the four cities we've profiled, Curitiba has probably taken the most radical steps toward changing its systems. It seems to be working, but critics say there is still much more to be done.

Jaime Lerner proudly passes on a legacy of planning to a new generation poised to inherit Curitiba. What they will make of it remains to be seen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NARRATOR: The environmental mantra reminds every one that the planet is all we have. Ecologists say the cities are great devourers of the nourishment the Earth provides, and as the city's grow, so will their effect. But each of the four places we've visited have shown ways to motivate their environmental impact. There's hope that individual communities can bring about global improvements.

LERNER: Sometimes the media gives us the impression that we are terminal patients, because of problems of global warmth or the ozone layer. And the people, they don't understand that they can could change this situation for the better if they could act locally in a city.

The problem is making people understand what is the impact of the attitudes.

I always try to say, if you want to help the environment, try to do just two things. One, use less of your car. Second, separate your garbage.

GIRARDET: I'm cautious optimist about the future of our cities. I think we are bigging to learn new ways of running our cities and leading our urban lifetsyles. I think the crucial issue now is to implement the best ideas already available to us and turn them into legislation and personal action. I think that will make all the difference in the way our cities relate to the rest of the world.

NARRATOR: Cities reflect our culture, our understanding, and our need to be with one another in a livable and workable place. But as we enter 21st century, environmental forecasters like Girardet believe there is an opportunity for humankind to make the age of the city the age of environmental solutions.

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