“there is no right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life”

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From Nature.comJuliana v. United States: The plaintiffs, who include 21 people ranging in age from 11 to 22, allege that the government has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by failing to prevent dangerous climate change. They are asking the district court to order the federal government to prepare a plan that will ensure the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere falls below 350 parts per million by 2100, down from an average of 405 parts per million in 2017.

By contrast, the US Department of Justice argues that “there is no right to ‘a climate system capable of sustaining human life’” — as the Juliana plaintiffs assert.

The Irresistible Urge to Build Cities From Scratch

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Article from Bloomberg that offers visions of master planned mega cities.  The article details why so many of these ego driven fantasies are not succeeding and concludes that it may be the result of poor economics, or poor location, or poor design or even misguiding the impact of driverless cars could have on urban planning.

There is nothing in the article about issues of climate change exacerbation – meaning that building these cities is extremely carbon intensive – or habitat destruction or peak oil or social inequality or anything else that will ensure that these places will always be failures.

We dont get a do over as the impending catastrophe looms.  We go into that future with the cities we have.  Imagine all the positives that could have been if energy and resources weren’t squandered on these places, places that will be unlivable very soon.

Towards an economy of care and craft and creativity

Since business as usual is not an option and since we just can’t surrender to the gloom, we must imagine positive ways of addressing our predicament.   Scientist Tim Jackson offers this as part of a larger essay:

Which brings us back I suppose to Ronald Reagan’s stirring evocation of the unlimited power of human intelligence, imagination and wonder. My students, generally speaking, agree with that part of the former President’s finest lines. Why should they not? Our ingenuity is not just legendary, it’s evolutionary. There’s very good evidence to show that it is partly responsible for, and certainly complicit in our enormous ‘success’ as species. A success which looks anything other than that, of course, for most other species on the planet.

But why should we not turn that intelligence, imagination and wonder to new and exciting purposes? To improving the efficiency of material cycles. To reducing the cost of renewable energy still further. To developing technologies that work in harmony with natural ecosystems rather than against them. Or perhaps towards a greater sense of material sufficiency. Towards an economy of care and craft and creativity. Towards concern for others. Towards better stewardship of the planet.

That is a comforting and encompassing vision:  care, craft, and creativity. How can landscape architecture and urban planning take that on?

The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us

Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse. 

Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action. Do not allow those whose magical thinking got us into this mess to tell us what can and cannot be done.

By George Monbiot in The Guardian 

It was a moment of the kind that changes lives. At a press conference held by climate activists Extinction Rebellion last week, two of us journalists pressed the organisers on whether their aims were realistic. They have called, for example, for UK carbon emissions to be reduced to net zero by 2025. Wouldn’t it be better, we asked, to pursue some intermediate aims?

A young woman called Lizia Woolf stepped forward. She hadn’t spoken before, but the passion, grief and fury of her response was utterly compelling. “What is it that you are asking me as a 20-year-old to face and to accept about my future and my life? … This is an emergency. We are facing extinction. When you ask questions like that, what is it you want me to feel?” We had no answer.

Softer aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Only shifts commensurate with the scale of our existential crises have any prospect of averting them. Hopeless realism, tinkering at the edges of the problem, got us into this mess. It will not get us out.

Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. But the Continue reading “The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us”

In an era of climate change, should landscape architecture organizations hold annual meetings?

This is a piece By Dr. Jason Hickel discussing the hypocrisy of an organization whose ethics state that “Anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that their research does not harm the safety of the people with whom they work” but yet one which holds an annual meeting that requires enormous amounts of fossil fuel use by attendees.

The author asks:  “In an age of dangerous climate change, is this morally justifiable?”

His answer is no.  The American Society of Landscape Architects should take heed.

Read the whole thing here.


Quitting your job in the Anthropocene

By Mathieu Munsch – read the whole thing on Medium


If the oil-driven machine must fail to avert the collapse of our ecosystems — as our knowledge of energy and climate change seems to suggest — then it is imperative that our actions start reflecting the extent of our concerns. If even those of us who made a name for ourselves for our climate change advocacy don’t take active measures to break our personal dependence on the oily hand that feeds us, then I fear that the seriousness of our message will forever fail to penetrate the wider social consciousness. Refusing to fly is a welcome gesture away from the normalised violence of polite society, but it will only make the destruction inherent to our systems a little less acute to allow us to continue our suicidal dance a little longer. Real transformative change will have to start being bolder than that, and propose pathways that are not just less harmful, but disconnected altogether from the fossil fuel economy as well as regenerative of both land and community.

A diversity of attempts at creating new models that don’t rely on fossil fuels will be needed to weather the storm that is coming. These models will reflect the diversity of places they are attempted in, as well as the diversity of the people who will dream them. Some — maybe most — of these attempts will fail, but just like processes of natural selection ensure that plants capable of producing large numbers of seeds can adapt to rapidly changing environments, a try-and-fail approach at creating many possible futures will ensure that some of the seeds we put into earth today will take root, flourish, and possibly even be replicated by others later on.