Dialogue on Architecture and Clmate Change

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is holding a series of dialogues on Architecture and Climate Change. They have invited international speakers, visionary thinkers and policy makers from a range of disciplines to ponder this matter. First off was Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. This week was Mike Davis, Marxist academic, activist and author of "Planet of Slums", amongst other books. He talked about the incredible importance of the last report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (which he called the "Supreme Court" of climate change) and the huge changes in climate models that the upcoming one,in March, will predict. These more radical and extreme changes are moving outside of accepted parameters and will be catastrophic. He said that the real debate right now is between scientists who think that IPCC has tried too hard to accommodate itself to moderate views that would be acceptable to the powers that be.

Davis has always been interested in cities, and their growth. His most famous book was "City of Quartz", an excellent treatise on Los Angeles. The large cities such as Mumbai, and Johannesburg have suffered huge de-industrialisation at the same time as migration towards them has grown. He said that as cities become more and more developed and spread into huge suburbs, our environmental footprint is getting larger and larger. Suburban houses have increased in size by 50% in the last 20 years. Davis believes that existing inequalities will be reinforced by climate change--North America will benefit and the semi-tropical, poorer countries will suffer. There is a huge propaganda effort being undertaken to reassure us that our life styles are being modified, and that the oil companies care and that market forces will take care of us. But he questioned what agency can be relied upon to take the important steps necessary to ensure that we will survive this century and our grandchildren will want to have children. His answer: heroic efforts in human solidarity; people working together to compensate for their lack of power. Next up: Sir David King on building a sustainable future and Herbert Girardet on sustainable development of cities. :: RIBA

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