We live in the age of extremes, a period punctuated by significant disasters that have changed the way we understand risk, vulnerability, and the future of communities. Violent ecological events such as Superstorm Sandy attest to the urgent need to analyze what cities around the world are doing to reduce carbon emissions, develop new energy systems, and build structures to enhance preparedness for catastrophe. Contributors to the most recent issue of Public Culture, “Climate Change and the Future of Cities: Mitigation, Adaptation, and Social Change on an Urban Planet,” illustrate that the best techniques for safeguarding cities and critical infrastructure systems from threats related to climate change have multiple benefits, strengthening networks that promote health and prosperity during ordinary times as well as mitigating damage during disasters.
The essays in this issue were developed through a multiyear ethnographic research project on climate change adaptation in a wide range of cities, conducted by some of the most innovative scholars working on climate and culture today. Research for this work involved a blend of fieldwork, interviews, and policy analysis, which allowed the contributors to assess whether the emerging models for adaptation work as well in practice as they do in theory, and to identify challenges for exporting “best practices” to different parts of the world.
The contributors provide a truly global perspective on topics, which include the toxic effects of fracking, water rights in the Los Angeles region, wind energy in southern Mexico, and water scarcity from Brazil to the Arabian Peninsula. The issue is freely available for the next two months.
Interested in learning more about climate change? Don’t miss this recent scholarship:
In How Climate Change Comes to Matter, Candis Callison examines the initiatives of social and professional groups as they encourage diverse American publics to care about climate change. She explores the efforts of science journalists, scientists who have become expert voices for and about climate change, American evangelicals, Indigenous leaders, and advocates for corporate social responsibility. Callison investigates the different vernaculars through which we understand and articulate our worlds, as well as the nuanced and pluralistic understandings of climate change evident in different forms of advocacy.
An internationally recognized expert on the geology of barrier islands, Orrin H. Pilkey is one of the rare academics who engages in public advocacy about science-related issues. In Global Climate Change: A Primer, the colorful scientist takes on climate change deniers in an outstanding and much-needed primer on the science of global change and its effects. Pilkey, writing with son Keith, directly confronts and rebuts arguments typically advanced by global change deniers. Particularly valuable are their discussions of “Climategate,” a manufactured scandal that undermined respect for the scientific community, and denial campaigns by the fossil fuel industry.