I have revised the almost palpable fear of my own post.
My better half pointed me into the direction of "so, now we can never be happy?" With that kind of risk analysis in mind I have realized what has been bothering me about the article. As I mentioned before, it is hard to disprove that the author is wrong. Any exmaples of "good" inner cities or well-managed natural resources cna be dismissed as temporary anomalities or insignificant blimps. Perhaps that is so. However, it is also easy to show that this exact argument has been used from Shumer to New York -- both geographically and timeline speaking. Yes, Messopatamia was a nice marshy place, and Italy was forested, and so on, and each time this same argument was made -- cities are evil, overpopulation now is like no overpopulation of before, some are isolated but most will die a violent death, etc. If the argument cannot be easily shown wrong, I think it can at least be shown to be not new, not urgent. Adopting the same long term view that Kaplan wants to take we can also show that anarchy has been contained so far. We are still here as a species. And hey, China is going to the Moon soon. I would rather worry about finding a good warp drive than just worry about everything.