chapter  6
20 Pages

Health and die B u it Environment

The main message of this book is that the built environment in the developed world has malign effects on the wider environment, both globally and locally. These effects stem from the structure of our urban settlements, the ways in which resources are used to build and maintain them, and the lifestyles which they encourage and which in turn perpetuate them. In this chapter we extend the analysis to human health and argue that urban development which is environ״ mentally friendly and sustainable, is also conducive to higher levels of human health at lower cost. A built environment which is ecologically healthy will also be an environment which is inhabited by healthy people, and moreover will be able to maintain a healthy population at a significantly lower cost compared to current levels of expenditure on health care in the developed world. A crucial element of the argument is that modern medicine has developed in such a way that much of it is dedicated to repairing people who have been damaged by the environment in which they live. This is a high-technology, high cost, reactive response which neglects causes and treats symptoms. A more rational response would be to change the built environment in such a way that its damaging effects on health were reduced; this would reduce the need for medical care and free resources for other uses. The sort of built environment which does not harm the wider environment, as we have seen, is a low energy, non-car-dependent, socially integrated town or city; it is precisely this sort of urban settlement in which people will find it easier to lead healthier lifestyles and remain free of the illnesses of affluence of the modern metropolis.