ASLA Statement on IPCC Climate Change Report

I’m a proud member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). However, their recent statement regarding the recent UN climate report leaves a lot to be desired:

“Already, the dire effects of climate change are visible in every corner of the globe. But the startling new report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear that if significant actions aren’t taken immediately, the world could see a rise in atmospheric temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040, triggering catastrophic effects worldwide. Landscape architects work at the intersection of the built and natural environments and have embraced their responsibility to design and plan healthy, climate-smart and resilient communities. The ominous U.N. report further reinforces the need for all those responsible for shaping human environments to urgently redouble their efforts to both mitigate climate effects and to ensure the resilience of communities already being threatened by the consequences of inaction.”

The ASLA statement acknowledges that the UN report is “startling” and “ominous.”

Despite that, the ASLA appears to have not been startled enough to change their typical messaging in any way.  Instead, they repeat the same trope that they have for years:  “Landscape architects work at the intersection of the built and natural environments and have embraced their responsibility to design and plan healthy, climate-smart and resilient communities.”

Sounds great.  Unfortunately, the UN report makes clear is that we have less than 30 years to eliminate fossil fuels from our work and society as a whole. Thus that stock statement needs to be revised to say what landscape architecture is doing to prepare not only our profession but also our communities for that as well.  We should be talking about leading by example into the zero carbon future.

Positively, the ASLA statement mentions the need for “all those responsible for shaping human environments to urgently redouble their efforts to …mitigate climate effects.” However, “all those responsible” are us as landscape architects.  What are WE going to do to mitigate climate change?  If we are to be part of the solution moving forward, we have to be leaders through the complete decarbonization of our work.  At this stage, as shown clearly by the report, mitigating climate change is now an all or nothing proposition if we are to avoid the worst possible future.

Certainly, there is no quibble with the last line of the statement that we all need to “ensure the resilience of communities already being threatened by the consequences of inaction.”

I sincerely hope that landscape architects, especially young ones, will push to make ASLA a world leading organization as we enter this new era.

 

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