The science of cities

Happy 5th birthday (yesterday), Fort Collins Museum of Discovery!

The museum’s birthday coincides with International Science Center & Science Museum Day; celebrations included a panel entitled Ecosystem Sustainability: Seeking Solutions through Research.

The panel brought together five scientists from Colorado State University. All five were engaging — I need to learn a lot more about soil, for instance — but Dr. Melissa McHale best captured my attention with her overview of Urban Ecology and Sustainability. Ask Dan, he can tell you I am mildly obsessed with cities… how they work, how they look, sharing economies, you name it. While I could never live in New York City, I would love to study it. Or paint it. Or dissect it.

Dr. McHale considers cities a natural ecosystem — though cities are built by humans, humans are part of the natural world. McHale also has a lot to say about equity. If I have solar panels on my house (and I do), but China is shouldering the pollution and labor of the panels’ creation, am I really contributing toward sustainability? The entire panel, including four speakers, was only an hour long, and thus very high-level — I would have loved to discuss urban sustainability much further. (And maybe I can. CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab has an open-to-the-public International Colloquium coming up, including sessions on Fukushima and citizen science. Strap. Yourself. In.)

P.S. Because it’s hysterical to me, I’ll share this: I installed an SEO plugin on this blog, which provides a “readability score” based on my word choice. It has all but given up on me — it would much prefer I focus on pictures of my kitchen instead of colloquia and urban ecosystems. I choose to take it as a compliment.

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