Climate Change and the End of Consumer Society in Salon 12
13:30 - 15:00
Urban planners, policy makers, and others are beginning to recognize the need to urgently achieve significant absolute reductions in energy and material consumption to avoid the already palpable risks of dangerous climate and related ecological change. Given the role that cities play as crucibles for consumerist lifestyles, communities in both the global North and South will need to implement measures that go beyond customary emphases on “smart cities,” “greening” the economy, resource efficiency, renewable energy, and technological innovation. The latter conventional interventions tend to be politically palatable but typically generate perverse rebound effects and have other untoward impacts. In addition, cities are manifestly reliant on precarious supply chains for goods and vast hinterlands for the appropriation of energy and disposal of wastes. These circumstances raise profound questions for current conceptions of “sustainable cities” and the cultural constructs that underpin prevailing modes of urban living.
To pursue answers to these questions we need to formulate more encompassing strategies toward sustainable cities, to include the underlying systems of social organization and associated configurations that enable the co-existence of dense aggregations of people. This challenge cannot be pursued by researchers or policy makers strictly on a top-down basis and primarily through technological innovation. Rather, effective measures will need to be undergirded by credible physical and social sciences and engineering while also entailing intensive processes of co-production of knowledge, transdisciplinary engagement, and higher order learning processes.