Michelle Marsh, Long Tran, and Oliver Walter
The climate emergency is inherently a future-focused issue; we talk of working to prevent continued temperature rise, halt yet more deforestation, or developing innovative technologies. Indeed, each of our futures will be scarred by the inaction of the present. This collection of articles, as the capstone of the first issue, grapples with the quintessential challenge of addressing the climate emergency: how do we make the utmost use of what we have now for the greatest impact in the future when we will have less resources and even less time. When looking forward, it is critical that we consider the impacts on those who we forget. Clarissa challenges us to consider those people who we have forgotten and consistently sidelined in her discussion of homelessness and creating safe, inclusive urban spaces. However, we must ask hard questions too: how much more economic ‘growth’ can our planet truly handle? John makes a case for rebalancing our priorities and considering the approach of degrowth to counter the chaos manifested by irresponsibly unfettered capitalism. I believe that when we look to the future – as so many leaders urge us to – we need to be more radical than we have ever been before, because our restricted frame of thinking has not done us much good.
Taking in the now is overwhelming. Surrounded by malaise and chaos, it seems even more crushing to even attempt to look forward. Both pessimism and optimism seem like futile fantasies when the present moment seems to deafen and consume. These last few articles lighten the weight of now, and cast a critical eye on possible remedies to a way of life that has gone wrong. Cityscapes, vehicles, and our economic activities more generally are the object of reform for these writers. They encourage an urgent revision of our lives and environments, by declaring that more should, and must be done.
In discussing mitigation of the climate crisis there undeniably needs to be a reorientation of society. Language helps with this, as explored in an earlier issue, but arguably as effective is the vitality of material things in our environment. The qualities and attributes of natural and built objects are critical in our formulation of perspectives and policy options. Imagining a sustainable feature entails careful consideration of this connection – something I believe two writers have done rather well. Avery’s article judges attempts to deal with the problem of Cobalt in electric vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries. Angus argues for the power of built space and/or neighbourhood in altering cultural views. Fully exploring these material things may open new avenues of thought as well as technological and logistical innovations necessary in changing our way of life.