Urban Ecological Security and the ‘Anthropocene’
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Urban Ecological Security and the ‘Anthropocene’

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  • 1. Urban  Ecological  Security  and   the  ‘Anthropocene’   Prof.  Stephen  Graham   Newcastle  University  
  • 2. What  is  ‘Nature’  and  How  Do  CiEes  Relate  to  It?  
  • 3.      Our  world,  our  old  world  that  we  have  inhabited  for  the  last  12,000  years,  has  ended.   This  February  […],  the  StraEgraphy  Commission  of  the  Geological  Society  of  London   was  adding  the  newest  and  highest  story  to  the  geological  story.  To  the  quesEon  "Are   we  now  living  in  the  Anthropocene?"  the  21  members  of  the  Commission  unanimously   answer  "yes."  They  adduce  robust  evidence  that  the  Holocene  epoch  -­‐-­‐  the  interglacial   span  of  unusually  stable  climate  that  has  allowed  the  rapid  evoluEon  of  agriculture   and  urban  civilizaEon  -­‐-­‐  has  ended  and  that  the  Earth  has  entered  "a  straEgraphic   interval  without  close  parallel  in  the  last  several  million  years.”    In  addiEon  to  the  buildup  of  greenhouse  gases,  the  straEgraphers  cite  human  landscape   transformaEon  which  "now  exceeds  [annual]  natural  sediment  producEon  by  an  order   of  magnitude,"  the  ominous  acidificaEon  of  the  oceans,  and  the  relentless  destrucEon   of  biota.  This  new  age,  they  explain,  is  defined  both  by  the  heaEng  trend  […]  and  by   the  radical  instability  expected  of  future  environments.    In  somber  prose,  they  warn  that  "the  combinaEon  of  exEncEons,  global  species   migraEons  and  the  widespread  replacement  of  natural  vegetaEon  with  agricultural   monocultures  is  producing  a  disEncEve  contemporary  biostraEgraphic  signal.  These   effects  are  permanent,  as  future  evoluEon  will  take  place  from  surviving  (and   frequently  anthropogenically  relocated)  stocks.[…]  EvoluEon  itself,  in  other  words,  has   been  forced  into  a  new  trajectory.”  Mike  Davis  (2008)    
  • 4. Welcome  to  the  ‘Anthropocene’:  Capitalist  urban-­‐Industrialism    as  the  Planet’s  most  important  geophysical  force     •  Human  and  urban  manufacture  of   ‘Nature’  –  climates,  biospheres,   carbon  cycles,  hydrological  and   geomorphological  systems,  even   organisms  and  ecosystems  -­‐-­‐  has   reached  such  an  extent  since  the   Industrial  revoluEon  that  we  no   longer  inhabit  the  post-­‐glacial   Holocene   •  Instead  we  live  in  the   Anthropocene  (term  coined  in   2000  by  the  Nobel  Prize-­‐winning   geologist,  Paul  Crutzen)  
  • 5. Holocene-­‐Anthropocenic   boundaries  can  now  be   discerned  in  ocean   sediments,  ice  sheet  cores,   pollen  cores  etc.   Paul  J  Crutzen  
  • 6. •  •  •  •  Incredibly  rapid  growth  and  extension  of   ciEes  and  urban-­‐industrial  systems   absolutely  central  to  this  process   Already,  ciEes  consume  75%  of  world   energy  and  produce  80%  greenhouse  gas   emissions   Main  hubs  of  global  water,  energy,  food,   waste,  carbon  flows  and  demands;   generators  of  resource  conflicts;  foci  of   geneEc,  hydrological,  nano-­‐,  chemical  and   geological  engineering  (intenEonal  and   unintenEonal)    on  earth-­‐shaping  scales   Use  huge,  geographically-­‐stretched   systems  of  infrastructure  to  metabolise   enormous  flows  of  food,  water,  energy,   wastes,  commodiEes,  raw  materials  &   resources  from  distant  sites  through  the   city  and  the  bodies  of  its  human  (and  non-­‐ human)  inhabitants  within  globalised  and   ‘neoliberal’  worlds  of  trade  and  exchange  
  • 7. Brad  allenby  
  • 8. Anthropocene  Concepts  Resonates  With  Posthumanist   Ontologies  Put  Forward  by  Actor-­‐Network  and    Cyborg   Urbanisa@on  Theories   •  Fixed  human/machine,  human/animal,  physical/non-­‐ physical,  social/technological  &  social/natural   binaries  blur  away       •  A  subjec5fica5on  of  objects,  and  the  objec5fica5on  of   subjects  (Donna  Haraway,  Bruno  Latour  etc.)   •  “Physical  and  biological  phenomena  must  be   reconceived  as  outcomes,  to  some  degree  of   poliEcal-­‐  economic,  as  well  as  ecological,  processes.   The  forces  of  environmental  colonialism  and  triage   are  simply  a  prelude  of  the  management  project   immanent  in  the  Anthropocene  ”  John  Byrne,  Leigh   Glover  and  Cecilia  MarEnez  w002   •  Urban  Technonature:  “Cyborgs  are  not  creatures  of   prisEne  Nature;  they  are  the  planned  and  unplanned   offspring  of  manufactured  environments,  fusing  into   new  organic  compounds  of  naturalized  maner  and   arEficialized  anE-­‐maner”  Tim  Luke  (1997)    
  • 9. •  “The  enEre  planet  now  is  increasingly  a  "built   environment"  or  "planned  habitat"  as   polluEon  modifies  atmospheric  chemistry,   urbanizaEon  restructures  weather  events,   biochemistry  redesigns  the  geneEcs  of  exisEng   biomass,  and  architecture  accretes  new  bioEc   habitats  inside  of  sprawling  megaciEes.”       •  (Luke  T  W,  1997,  "At  the  end  of  Nature:  cyborgs,  'humachines',  and  environments  in  postmodernity"   Environment  and  Planning  A  29(8)  1367  –  1380  )  
  • 10. Manhew  Gandy:  Cyborg  UrbanisaEon   •  Cyborgian  thinking  suggests  a  way  of  thinking  about   ciEes  as  a  whole   •  Geographically  and  temporally-­‐stretched  hybrids  of   human,  organic,  technological,  conEnually  connecEng   urban  sites  and  processes  to  ‘rural’  ones   •  Helps  create  a  new  vocabulary  for  understanding  what   we  mean  by  the  ‘public  realm’  against  the  vulnerability   and  inter-­‐dependency  of  urban  socieEes  and  the   complex  technological  networks  and  organic  and   biospehric  metabolisms,  stretched  across  different   geographical  scales,    that  make  them  possible.  
  • 11. Cyborg  UrbanisaEon  Revealed  During     Disrup5on  of  Infrastructures   •  “Cyborgs,  like  us,  are  endlessly  fascinated  by  machinic  breakdowns,   which  would  cause  disrupEons  in,  or  denials  of  access  to,  their   megatechnical  sources  of  being.”  (above  NYC  blackout,  2003)   •  •      (Luke  T  W,  1997,  "At  the  end  of  Nature:  cyborgs,  'humachines',  and  environments  in  postmodernity"  Environment  and  Planning  A  29(8)   1367  –  1380  )  
  • 12. •  Also  unerringly  reveal    the  osen   concealed  poli5cs  of  cyborganised   ciEes   •  e.g.  Katrina  in  2005  not  a  ‘natural   disaster,’  ‘technical  failure’  or  ‘Act  of     God.’  Rather,  the  inevitable  result  of:   •  Climate  change  accentuaEng   hurricane   •  Hiung  a  city  denuded  of  natural   protecEon  and   •  Very  poorly  covered  by    a  levee   network  that  was  systemaEcally   racially  biased  over  centuries  of   constructed  socio-­‐nature  in  context  of     •  A  NeoconservaEve  and  racist  Federal   Government  that  had  systemaEcally   skewed  Emergency  Planning  towards   terrorism  for  poliEcal  ends  
  • 13. Infrastructure  disrup5ons  reveal   osen  taken  for  granted  and   normalised  ‘infrastructures’  and   cyborg  assemblies  especially   blackouts   In  cyborg  ciEes,  increasingly   threaten  life,  not  mere   inconvenience    
  • 14. Dominant  Responses:     Earth  Systems  and  Geoengineering     and  Securi@sa@on   •  “The  human/natural/built  integrated  systems  of  the  Anthropocene   cannot  be  understood  through  just  one  worldview,  be  it  scienEfic,   theological,  or  postmodern  (mutually  exclusive  but  equally  valid   ontologies)”  Brad  Allenby   •  “The  world  as  design  space”  ;  “The  human  as  design  space”   •  “Earth  Systems  Engineering  and  Management  is  the  capability  to   design,  engineer,  and  manage,  through  dialog  and  conEnual   feedback,  integrated  built/human/natural  systems  that  achieve  the   mulEvariate  and  someEmes  mutually  exclusive  goals  and  desires  of   humanity,  including  at  the  least  personal,  social,  economic,   technological,  and  environmental  dimensions,  within  the   constraints  imposed  by  the  states  and  dynamics  of  exisEng  complex   adapEve  systems.”  Brad  Allenby  
  • 15. We  must  be  wary  of  ‘quick  technical  fix’  ideas  of  ‘Terraforming’,   ‘Geoengineering’  and  ‘Earth  Systems  Engineering’  in  the   Anthropocene.  These  depoli5cise  and  commodify  the  problems,   legiEmise  an  unchanged  poliEcal  economy,  and    would   inevitably  bring  major  unintended  effects  
  • 16. Securi@sa@on  and  Weaponisa@on  of  the  Anthropocene   •  Ole  Wæver's  Copenhagen  School  SecuriEzaEon  Theory   (1995)   •   Security  as  a  “speech  act”  where  a  securiEzing  actor   designates  a  threat  to  a  specified  reference  object  and   declares  an  existenEal  threat  implying  a  right  to  use   extraordinary  means  to  fend  it  off.   •   Such  a  process  of  “securiEzaEon”  is  successful  when   the  construcEon  of  an  “existenEal  threat”  by  a  policy   maker  is  socially  accepted  and  where  “survival”  against   existenEal  threats  is  crucial.   •  Strong  Anthropocenic  turn  in  securiEsaEon  discourse  
  • 17. Biopiracy  and  biofuels   push  (indigenous   groups  in  Indonesia,   protesEng,  above)   Global  South  ‘land  grab’     by  global  North     agribusiness  
  • 18. City  AuthoriEes  increasingly  reaching  out  to  secure  their  own   energy,  hydrological  or  food  futures   hnp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6377867.stm  
  • 19. •  Neoliberalised  ‘global’  ciEes  osen  have   a  parasi@c  relaEonship  with  near  and   distant  hinterlands   •  Global  neoliberal  urbanisaEon  has  led   to  ‘devastaEng  dispariEes  between  the   mobility  of  capital  and  labour  that  have   produced  new  forms  of  economic   serfdom  in  the  global  South’  Manhew   Gandy   •  Resource  (food,  water,  energy)  grabs   organised  and  finance  through  the   financial  centres  and  technopoles  of  the   North’s  global  finance  capitals   •  New  highly  regressive  paradims  of   ‘urban  ecological  security’  (Simon   Marvin  and  Mike  Hodgson)  E.g.  Daewoo   (South  Korean  corporaEon)    has  just   leased  half  of  all  the  arable  land  in   Madagascar  to  feed  South  Korean  ciEes   in  the  future   The  Anthropocenic   Global  City  System:    A  New  Imperialism?  
  • 20. Conclusions:  The  Anthropocenic  City   •  DrasEcally  destablise  concepts  of  ‘city’,  ‘technology’,  ‘nature’  and  ‘scale’,  along   with  persistent  ‘urban-­‐rural’,  ‘natural-­‐social’,  ‘natural-­‐technological’  and   ‘global-­‐local’  binaries     •  Profound  implicaEons  for  conceptualisaEons  of  the  ‘urban’.  Is  the  enEre   Anthropocenic  biosphere,  in  effect,  ‘urban’?      Tim  Luke  (2009)  talks  of  the   mulEple  interconnecEons  and  new  spaEal  pracEces  of  “urbanatura”  (Tim   Luke,  2009);       •  “The  accidental  normaliity  of  greenhouse-­‐gassing  global  capitalism  envelops   humans,  non-­‐humans,  and  hybrids  in  technonaturalized  systems  and   structures”     •  Crucially,  these  processes  map  conEnuously  onto,  and  through,  more  usual   policy  paradigms  and  discourses:  “whether  they  examine  technoscience   operaEons,  natural  disasters,  or  socio-­‐spaEal  collapses”,  new  research  must   “scan  the  property  boundaries  of  urban  space  as  they  are  stabilized  in  ordinary   policy  terms  such  as  urbanizaEon,  land  use,  environment,  river  basins,   industrializaEon,  economic  growth,  sprawl,  or  natural  resources.  Once   scruEnized  more  closely,  the  unstable,  unconvenEonal,  and  undetected   properEes  of  mulEple  industrial  hybridiEes  do  emerge  out  of  foggy   phenomena,  including  the  ’greenhouse  effect’”  (Tim  Luke,  2009)  
  • 21. •  •  •  •  •  •  •  Reveals  limits  of  both  ‘sustainability’  and  environmentalist  debates:  Sustainability   discourses  osen  involve  elements  of  ‘greenwash’,  over-­‐aestheEc  concepEons,  or   outright  bourgeois  environmentalism.  “Sustainability  is  too  osen  a  self-­‐absorbed   mechanism  for  avoiding  the  complexity  of  the  Anthropogenic  world”  Brad  Allenby   Environmentalist  tropes  of  prisEne  nature,  meanwhile,  “suggest  the  importance  of   minimizing  alteraEons  of  many  habitats;  but  so  many  habitats  are  now  obviously   "arEficial"  that  the  invocaEon  of  a  preservaEonist  ethos  is  frequently   inappropriate  if  ecology,  rather  than  aestheEcs,  is  considered  as  the  basis  for   policy  prescripEon”  Simon  Dalby   New  “technonatural  formaEons”  required  based  on  a  “foundaEonal  reimaginaEon   of  the  innovaEons  unfolding  in  many  intersecEng  terns  in  what  are  called  “Nature”   and  “society”’  (Tim  Luke,  1997)   Need  a  new  ethics  and  research  paradigms  for  the  Anthropocene  to  poli5cise  the   Anthropocenic  city:  Must  blur  debates  about  global  neoliberalised  poliEcal   economy,  global  urbanisaEon,  global  environmental  change  and  environmetal   jusEce   Planetary,  anthropocenic,  urban  and  human  concepts  of  ‘security’  required  rather   than  naEonal-­‐militarisEc  ones   Dangers  that  dominant  responses  -­‐-­‐  earth  systems  and  geoengineering  and   securiEsaEon  -­‐-­‐    offer  myths  of  technological  panaceas  based  on  further   securiEsaEon,  commodificaEon,  colonisaEon  centred  on  global  north  corporate   capital  and  ‘global’  metropolitan  regions     Emerging  militarisaEon  of  Anthropocene?  Oil,  biofuels,  biopiracy,  water,  land-­‐ grabs  and  food  security  
  • 22. Reading   •  Luke  T  W,  1997,  "At  the  end  of  Nature:   cyborgs,  'humachines',  and  environments  in   postmodernity"  Environment  and  Planning  A   29(8)  1367  –  1380  )   •