How to reengineer our systems to address climate change's refugee crisis and create new, high-density cities on demand

Vinay Gupta (previously) is a polymath engineer/inventor, whose Buckminster Fuller-inspired "hexayurts" can be found all over Burning Man (and my novel Walkaway).

In his Penny Stamps lecture at the University of Michigan ranges widely over the nature of displacement and refugee crises, how climate deepens and accelerates these crises (and makes them permanent), and how the traditional idea of a refugee camp — never a particularly successful one — is totally unsuited to the challenges of the climate/refugee crisis.

He goes on to propose a model for a flat-pack city future, where engineered buildings and infrastructure, designed to be shipped and assembled with ease, can replace "temporary" camps (some of which have now been in existence so long that two or three generations of people have lived and died in them) with real, permanent, sustainable, high-density cities.

I don't share all of Gupta's vision here — I'm skeptical of his claim that we need capital (as opposed to material) to lift people out of poverty, and of the underlying economics of this notion — but he's a riveting speaker and he's got fascinating ideas that always excite me.

(Thanks, Vinay!)