Carlos Moreno Wanted to Improve Cities. Conspiracy Theorists Are Coming for Him. – The New York Times..

The People’s Voice – 15 Minute City Lockdowns

For most of his 40-year career, Carlos Moreno, a scientist and business professor in Paris, worked in relative peace.

Many cities around the world embraced a concept he started to develop in 2010. Called the 15-minute city, the idea is that everyday destinations such as schools, stores and offices should be only a short walk or bike ride away from home. A group of nearly 100 mayors worldwide embraced it as a way to help recover from the pandemic.

The conspiracy theorists came late, but suddenly.

In recent weeks, a deluge of rumors and distortions have taken aim at Mr. Moreno’s proposal. Driven in part by climate change deniers and backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, false claims have circulated online, at protests and even in government hearings that 15-minute cities were a precursor to “climate change lockdowns” — urban “prison camps” in which residents’ movements would be surveilled and heavily restricted.

Many attacked Mr. Moreno, 63, directly. The professor, who teaches at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, faced harassment in online forums and over email. He was accused without evidence of being an agent of an invisible totalitarian world government. He was likened to criminals and dictators.

For the first time in his career, he started receiving death threats. People said they wished he and his family had been killed by drug lords, told him that “sooner or later your punishment will arrive” and proposed that he be nailed into a coffin or run over by a cement roller.

“I wasn’t a researcher anymore, I was Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler,” Mr. Moreno said. “I have become, in one week, Public Enemy No. 1.”

One epidemiologist keeps a folder on her computer to store all the death threats she receives just “in case.” A professor of atmospheric science who studied global warming received a letter containing white powder (it looked like anthrax but turned out to be cornstarch). A professor of health law and science policy, in an article touching on his experiences with death threats, lawsuits and online trolling, wrote: “My skin is thick. I’m used to the hate.”

Mr. Moreno’s work has not been focused on the pandemic, though his 15-minute cities idea has become more popular since it began. Like many of his academic peers who have faced harassment and disinformation campaigns, he is at a loss for ways to protect himself.

“I’m not totally sure what is the best reaction — to respond, to not respond, to call a press conference, to write a press release,” he said. Academics, he said, “are relatively alone.”

Mr. Moreno, who grew up in Colombia, began working as a researcher in a computer science and robotics lab in Paris in 1983; the career that followed involved creating a start-up, meeting the Dalai Lama and being named a knight of the Légion d’Honneur. His work has won several awards and spanned many fields — automotive, medical, nuclear, military, even home goods.

Around 2010, he started thinking about how technology could help create sustainable cities. Eventually, he refined his ideas about “human smart cities” and “living cities” into his 2016 proposal for 15-minute cities. The idea owes much to its many predecessors: neighborhood units” and “garden cities” in the early 1900s, the community-focused urban planning pioneered by the activist Jane Jacobs in the 1960s, even support for “new urbanism” and walkable cities in the 1990s. So-called low-traffic neighborhoods, or LTNs, have been set up in several British cities over the past few decades.

Critics of 15-minute cities have been outspoken, arguing that a concept developed in Europe may not translate well to highly segregated American cities. A Harvard economist wrote in a blog post for the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2021 that the concept was a “dead end” that would exacerbate “enormous inequalities in cities” by subdividing without connecting them.

Mr. Moreno did not face harassment, however, until conspiracy theorists mistakenly conflated 15-minute cities with the low-traffic-neighborhood idea in Britain.

The Tribulation is commencing..

Please repent, carry your cross daily and accept the free gift of Jesus Christ’s Death on the Cross for payment for your sins.

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