2013 Overview

In his essay The Natural History of Urbanization (1956) Lewis Munford told us that "The natural history of urbanization has not yet been written, for only a small part of the preliminary work has been done." Half a century later, the work is still to be done. As argued in Advances in Urban Ecology, perhaps we have only written partial histories. Writing such history today implies that we redefine what constitutes history of human settlements. We need to understand how human and ecological systems have co-evolved to generate the present urban world, if we are to anticipate how change will shape the cities of the future.
As Chicago historian Dipesh Chakrabarty has argued in his recent essay, The Climate of History: Four Theses "the distinction we have drawn between natural history and human history has now collapsed." Since humans have become geological agents, it is no longer a question simply of humans having an interactive relation with nature. Now humans are a force of nature in the geological sense.