Timo wrote:... i'm not overly optimistic in the intellectual capacity of mankind to do the right things in order to ensure our collective survival.
Well of course not.
Depending on man's higher nature to do what is right almost always leads to disappointment.
Urban planning, higher density housing, urban mass transit, and restrictive rural zoning are going to gain in popularity not because they are "intellectually" the right thing to do, but because there will be no alternative.
We're going to have more urban planning in California and the rest of the US because we will be forced into it by peak oil and higher gasoline prices. People are going to have to get out of their cars because it will be too expensive to commute. When people start demanding mass transit, we will build it, and building more subways and electric trolleys and commuter transit will, by their very nature, impose long term planning on cities and regions.