Peter Calthorpe is one of the most respected urban planners in the world, which has led municipalities from California to China to ask for his assistance in creating livable, sustainable cities. His new book, Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, accepts that climate change is a real threat, with potentially catastrophic consequences that can only be averted if we radically reduce our energy consumption.

Mr. Calthorpe doesn’t believe that green technologies alone can meet the challenge. Conservation achieved by traveling less and walking more is key. But not everyone has to abandon the suburbs for city apartment blocks. A combination of revived downtowns, along with building pockets of walkable, village-like centers in outlying areas is part of the New Urbanism vision of “transit-oriented development.”

Mr. Calthorpe says his goal in writing the book was to talk to the environmental community, who too often don’t see land use policy as a prime ingredient in our environmental sustainability and climate change bag of solutions. Everyone seems to think it is about technology, it is all about industrial change. Those are very important components. But if you try to build a renewable energy society on top of an incredibly inefficient set of lifestyles, it gets very difficult. So, conservation first, and the biggest component of conservation is urbanism.

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