For the entirety of our lifetimes, the planet’s has been getting more urban. We’ve been making more cities. Moving more people into them. Growing the urban limits in pretty much every direction. So much so, in fact, that a future of ever-increasing urbanism seems almost inevitable. But for a lot of human history, cities were the exception to how people lived — and cities didn’t always last. After studying four ancient cities that no longer exist as such, our next guest identified some pretty familiar themes: ecological shocks combined with a political system that couldn’t respond well. Which . . . sounds creepily familiar.
Annalee Newitz is a longtime science journalist and editor, and does a podcast on the politics of speculative fiction called Our Opinions are Correct. Their new book is Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age