Looking at the "Psychology of sustainability" Azimuth entry got me thinking that a question arises of what the appropriate psychology might be, when sometimes conflicting visions of a sustainable future suggest diametrically opposed solutions to problems. I saw an article on the Smart Planet web-site "Is smart growth really better than sprawl?" which centered on comments made in a blog by NRDC's Kaid Benfield asking "How much Urbanism is enough?" But this assumes that urbanism is a viable way to a sustainable future.

I've had exposure to folks who are absolutely committed to sustainable lifestyles and who 'walk the talk' of believing and practicing their message, but have the opinion that urbanism may be the source of our ills rather than a solution. They teach that any strategy to achieve a sustainable future must include nature, and suggest lifestyles in harmony with nature. Their ideal of a sustainable future is for people to move away from urban lives that are disconnected from the natural order and the sensibility of a kind of sacredness of the land and the planet. In their minds, it is city life that teaches people the foolish ways of wasteful and non-sustainable living.

Are they wrong? If you were to ask architect Paolo Soleri, he would say that they both got it partly right, but didn't take things far enough. Soleri preached against the ills of sprawl, but suggested that the solution is not Megalopolis but Arcology - dense communities in harmony with nature. His idea is to take natural features of the landscape and build large-scale architecture that takes advantage of them, while allowing some adjoining areas to remain natural, or be more park like. Soleri's notion is that standing needles like the Burj Khalifa, which I think is the current tallest building, are far less efficient than truly 3-d structures.

But Arcology may be the only kind of solution that allows urbanists and ruralists to both feel that they are contributing to the creation of a sustainable future. That way; people like NRDC's Kaid Benfield and others like Pete Seeger or Elspeth of Haven could both get their way. So here we have an example where parties on opposite sides might label the psychology of the other guys as hurtful to the cause of a sustainable future, but there really is a synthesis to go along with Benfield's thesis and its antithesis - which is Arcology. Are there thoughts about 'Visions of sustainability' as a future Azimuth entry to address this kind of opposition among sustainability advocates?