Image 01: Earthrise, taken by William Anders. In front of the photographer all humanity is in a single picture. (Source: NASA, 1968)
To answer this questions, I have to proceed in two different manners. First I have to attach the concepts that I conclude from the writings of Naomi Klein and Gregory Bateson, a book and an essay respectively about the current topic, and finally an approach from my point of view. I have interpreted the city as a derivation of humanity, we have become an urban species and therefore, our actions and impacts occur in this supra-system.
From the writers, the answer to the first question is a worrying assertion. Klein explains that as our society develops, the environment is frightened, not in a rational and balanced derivation, but in an uncontrolled and alarming way. While capitalism is more than ever before empowered and rooted in the taking of major decisions, natural disasters and signs of imminent climate change are recurrent and more apparent. Bateson prays for a way to contemplate logically the threatens of the abuse of humanity in nature. The second question infers from their statements; Naomi said there is no time to waste, we are aware that there are imminent changes, and extracting from her text, we need to change pretty much everything in the world to avoid a self-destruction, we are in a war aginst climate changes (Klein, 2014). Gregory is conclusive saying that the only possible way to revert any cataclysm is the change in our posture of the planet (Bateson, 2000), he puts the responsibility for our actions as there as no other possible way to react to the change of the environment, or as he said:
“the creature that wins against its environment destroys itself.” (Bateson, 2000)
My first answer derives from the two authors and nearly every single reasonable person living nowadays; there is a visible misalignment from what we want from our cities and what we faced. The humanity – shall be read cities – has been dedicated for too much time not to see their footprint on the environment and at the same time struggling with its effects.
The second question has no clear point of view. I do believe cities are on a plausible track to sustainability. Their results could be debatable, but is a trending topic in general media and all other levels that cities are finally putting effort to ensure changes that could be materialized to avoid an apocalyptic future. Anyhow, it is time for a paradigm shift in our culture, politics, economy, and all the structure of our society. Then following a path of sustainability should be excited and optimistic. We do not have another planet (yet) to escape. As well as Naomi cites on her text, the analogy of the burning house (Klein, 2014), I would like to appeal that from “the house on fire” there is no logical getaway. So it is better we devise a way for us to live with burning flames around us and put it out all the effort to save ourselves.
Bateson, G. (2000). The roots of ecological crisis. En G. Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything. Simon & Schuster.