China hires British engineers to create self-sufficient urban centers

Remember Logan’s Run, the futuristic 1970s sci-fi flick where sex-crazed twentysomethings lived in a self-contained city sealed off from the ravages of a devastated environment? Seems reality might be catching up with fiction: China’s hiring British firm Arup to design and build up to five “eco-cities” that will be self-sufficient in water, energy, and much of their food supplies, with climate-neutral transportation systems. They’re envisioned as prototypes for eco-correct urban living in overpopulated and polluted environments — and also as catnip to attract more investment in China’s booming economy. The first eco-city may be open by 2010, with a population of about 50,000; it’s projected to be three-quarters the size of Manhattan by 2040. “It is no gimmick,” says Peter Head of Arup, who claims the highest levels of the Chinese government are on board with the project. “They are very committed to developing a new paradigm of economic development.” Just watch out for your 30th birthday — it’s a killer.