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Jarfalla: City of the Future

STOCKHOLM-The first city of the future will be built in Sweden. It will be called Jarfalla, have about 100,000 residents, and be accessible by subway or highway from Stockholm, just 12 miles away. No gasoline-powered vehicle will be allowed. Noiseless electric minibuses moving at a soothing 20 miles per hour will pass within 150 yards of everyone's house, carrying passengers and baggage free. Rolling platforms something like horizontal escalators will carry downtown shoppers on their rounds, underground heating will melt snow as it falls to the sidewalks, garbage will be collected by vacuums installed in each residence and transported through tunnels by compressed air to incinerators 30 miles away. Heat and hot water will be supplied by a single thermonuclear plant,   the temperatures regulated by individual thermostats. The air will be pure, the smog-free light dazzling, the water delicious and wholesome, the streets impecable, the only sounds those of music and children at play. It will cost an enormous a-mount of money.

Alas, we cannot be all Swedes, nor can all Swedes live in Jarfalla. By the time there are 7 billion of us milling around the planet, 30 years from now—or 9 billion, 20 or 30 years from now— our lives are likely to be arranged quite differently. Futurologists hold out a considerable range of repellent prospects.

Among the most cheerful is Nigel Calder, former editor of New Science in England, whose ideas go something like this:

Those of us still living on land may be enclosed in anything from towns of 50,000 completely under glass to supercities of 50 million commanding nearly a million square miles— the size of Western Europe. But the majority of the human race will be settled on the sea, in floating towns reaching deep under water so that disturbance due to surface winds and waves—seasickness, that is—will be negligible. More likely than not, these towns will take the form of iceships, ice being unsinkable, easily landscapable, and relatively cheap to make and preserve (one doesn't like to think of a possible power failure, but Mr. Calder assures us we needn't worry). The icetowns would be protected against wind by geodetic domes, perfumed and decorated by thoughtfully contrived sights and sounds, air-conditioned to a year-round spring-like temperature, and supplied with food by ocean gardens grown either on imported soil or in enclosed and cultivated tanks of sea water.

Limited as such nourishment may be to the, palate, we might go down on our knees in gratitude for it, considering the possible alternatives. About 4 or 5 billion people would be facing starvation, few of us could permit ourselves the luxury of real fruit and vegetables (a cucumber, say, or a watermelon). Scientists having discovered that yeast can be grown on petroleum, vast quantities of this cheap protein source can be grown to feed animals destined in turn to feed us. Three main production lines for animal protein would then operate side by side.

In one, cattle, pigs and poultry would be raised'on plant material for meat and eggs. In another, milk would be formed continuously by a culture of milk-producing glands, intended for drinking and making butter and cheese. In a third, beef muscle would grow continuously in long tubes, extruding itself for chopping into steaklike portions. A complex of smaller works would turn out a selection of prepared foods — soups, sausage, bread, beer and so on— for national or regional distribution. Vitamins and flavors from national suppliers would be added as required. Orange and lemon juice could be produced from cultures, with chemical processing of fibrous materials to add "bite." The very rich could buy natural fruit and vegetables from millionaire market-gardeners; the very poor could sustain life with combinations of plant and yeast material reinforced with vitamins—comparable, perhaps, to having all of one's meals supplied by a domestic airline, with vitamins added.

Mr. Calder does not go very deeply into the psychological side-effect of all this.

If the effects on human beings may not be altogether foreseeable, we are already getting some idea of what may happen to the animals we'll be counting on, nutritionally speaking. The latest method of pig-raising, for instance, already makes use of the production line, the pigs arrayed in rows before conveyor belts moving at a carefully calculated pace with carefully dosed food rations designed for optimum fattening at minimum cost. The one hitch is an inclination on the pig's part to go crazy; thus, the otherwise automated system requires a highly paid attendant whose only function is to watch for early symptoms.of insanity and snatch the unfortunate patient from his place at the conveyor belt, replacing him with another identical in appearance, within five minutes at most, before all the rest go wild.