Extreme cities
Ashley Dawson
Verso books

50% of the worlds population lives 25 miles or less from sea water. That is expected to increase to 75% in a small number of years. I’m telling you we’re doomed. Well Dawson isn’t quite saying that but you know. Climate change? Devastation. Maybe if you start running now??

The language used here is bleak. Miami is a “doomed” city slowly drowning. New York has 400,000 people living in flood zones. Turkey point in Florida is one of 14 nuclear (yes nuclear) power plants that’s are expected to be at least partially underwater by 2030. Just over 10 years. One fifth of Bangladesh will be submerged by 2100 according to a Un report.

So what’s the cause of all this? Is nature not able to realign itself with population and industry growth? The answer is partially yes but humans need to take cognizance of it. Jamaica Plains in New York was a marshland home to a wonderful eco system that provided lush vegetation but its environs didn’t suit the burgeoning wealthy elite and so it’s value to the earth was diminished. Waste water and sewage plants were built to dispose of human excrement and excess. Land was created to allow for a airport, holes were drilled to prevent mosquitoes. All the while a picture perfect Central Park was developed. Capitalism won out but when a hurricane like hurricane sandy comes along, the lack of much needed marshland is noted. Some changes are being made. Slowly. And at a huge price.

How about this, in 2012 more than twice the number of people fleeing conflict and violence throughout the world lost their home to natural disasters. Over 19 million people displaced due to extreme weather brought on by climate change. And where can they go?

70% of the worlds population live in drought prone areas yet sea levels are rising, polar ice caps are melting which makes levels rise even more. Something needs to be done to stop the planet from overheating. Something more that writing words and reading books.

So why not smoke, drink and get high while there’s life in you? You won’t be doing that in a dead planet but we have a slim chance of performing major survey. We need that will to live in all of us. Ashley Dawson advocates that we move to a “just city” model in much the same way that just transition is being promoted. Capitalism is about incessant growth and that needn’t be our model to avert global warming. That is the revolutionary thinking needed. Despite the seemingly regressive events nationally around the globe now is an opportunity to rekindle our sense of collective purpose and potential but time is of the essence. If we don’t we are complicit in what’s happening and I for one don’t want that burden on my shoulders.


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