The Anthropocenic CityNature, Security & Cyborg Urbanisation<br />Stephen Graham<br />Professor of Cities and Society<br /...
   “Our world, our old world that we have inhabited for the last 12,000 years, has ended. This February […], the Stratigra...
Welcome to the ‘Anthropocene’: Capitalist urban-Industrialism as the Planet’s most important geophysical force<br />Human ...
Paul J Crutzen<br />Holocene-Anthropocenic boundaries can now be discerned in ocean sediments, ice sheet cores, pollen cor...
The “Factory Planet” Nick Dyer-Witheford<br />Incredibly rapid growth and extension of cities and capitalist  urban-indust...
Anthropocene Concept Resonates With Posthumanist Ontologies Put Forward by Actor-Network and  Cyborg Urbanisation Theories...
“The entire planet now is increasingly a ‘built environment’ or ‘planned habitat’ as pollution modifies atmospheric chemis...
Matthew Gandy: Cyborg Urbanisation<br />Cyborgian thinking suggests a way of thinking about cities as a whole<br />Geograp...
Eric Swyngedouw and Maria Kaika: <br />Metabolisation of water central to metabolism of cyborg cities<br />‘Socionatures’ ...
Cyborg Urbanisation Revealed During Disruption of Infrastructures<br />“Cyborgs, like us, are endlessly fascinated by mach...
Tim Luke: ‘Denature’<br />“After two centuries of industrial revolution and three decades of informational revolution, Nat...
Infrastructure disruptions reveal often taken for granted and normalised ‘infrastructures’ and cyborg assemblies especiall...
Also unerringly reveal  the often concealed politics of cyborganised cities<br />e.g. Katrina in 2005 not a ‘natural disas...
Dominant Responses: Earth Systems Engineering,Geoengineering, Securitisation<br />“The world as design space” ; “The human...
We must be wary of ‘quick technical fix’ ideas of ‘Terraforming’, ‘Geoengineering’ and ‘Earth Systems Engineering’ in the ...
Securitisation and Weaponisation of the Anthropocene<br />Ole Wæver's Copenhagen School Securitization Theory (1995)<br />...
The AnthropocenicGlobal City System: A New Imperialism?<br />Neoliberalised ‘global’ cities often have a parasitic relatio...
Biopiracy and biofuels push (indigenous groups in Indonesia, protesting, above)<br />Global South ‘land grab’ <br />by glo...
Conclusions (i) : The Anthropocenic City?<br />Throws “us onto a meta-historical playing field without a clue as to how to...
(ii) Limits of ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmentalist’ discourses<br />Reveals limits of both ‘sustainability’ and environ...
(iii) Anthropocenic Ethics<br />New “technonatural formations” required based on a “foundational reimagination of the inno...
Thus, in the Anthropocene we will be confronted with a form of world political economy in which global warming and other t...
Brad allenby<br />
1. Cities, Nature, Technology : Traditional Concepts<br />Modernist ideas based on imagining city as being separate, and o...
But post-mortems for such events become messy!<br />“A distributive notion of agency does interfere with the project of bl...
Erle Ellis<br />
During the past three centuries, the human population has increased tenfold to more than 6 billion and is expected to reac...
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Stephen graham anthropocenic city: nature, security and cyborg urbanisation

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A presentation outlining new ways of thinking about the links between cities and nature which draws out implications for how we address global climate change, injustice and urbanisation

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Stephen graham anthropocenic city: nature, security and cyborg urbanisation

  1. 1. The Anthropocenic CityNature, Security & Cyborg Urbanisation<br />Stephen Graham<br />Professor of Cities and Society<br />Global Urban Research Unit<br />School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape<br />Newcastle University<br />
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  3. 3. “Our world, our old world that we have inhabited for the last 12,000 years, has ended. This February […], the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London was adding the newest and highest story to the geological story. To the question ‘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 evolution of agriculture and urban civilization -- has ended and that the Earth has entered ‘a stratigraphic interval without close parallel in the last several million years.’<br />In addition to the buildup of greenhouse gases, the stratigraphers cite human landscape transformation which ‘now exceeds [annual] natural sediment production by an order of magnitude,’ the ominous acidification of the oceans, and the relentless destruction of biota. This new age, they explain, is defined both by the heating trend […] and by the radical instability expected of future environments.<br />In somber prose, they warn that ‘the combination of extinctions, global species migrations and the widespread replacement of natural vegetation with agricultural monocultures is producing a distinctive contemporary biostratigraphic signal. These effects are permanent, as future evolution will take place from surviving (and frequently anthropogenically relocated) stocks.” […] Evolution itself, in other words, has been forced into a new trajectory.” Mike Davis (2008)<br />
  4. 4. Welcome to the ‘Anthropocene’: Capitalist urban-Industrialism as the Planet’s most important geophysical force<br />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 revolution that we no longer inhabit the post-glacial Holocene<br />Instead we live in the Anthropocene (term coined in 2000 by the Nobel Prize-winning geologist, Paul Crutzen)<br />
  5. 5. Paul J Crutzen<br />Holocene-Anthropocenic boundaries can now be discerned in ocean sediments, ice sheet cores, pollen cores etc.<br />
  6. 6. The “Factory Planet” Nick Dyer-Witheford<br />Incredibly rapid growth and extension of cities and capitalist urban-industrial systems absolutely central to thisshift<br />2.6 billion people, 0.75 land area<br />Main hubs of global water, energy, food, waste, carbon flows and demands; generators of resource conflicts; foci of genetic, hydrological, climatic, nano-, chemical and geological engineering (intentional and unintentional) on earth-shaping scales<br />Already, cities consume 75% of world energy and produce 80% greenhouse gas emissions<br />More than 50% global soils farmed, grazed or logged; 1/3 of available water used for planting & grazing; 25% rivers run dry before reaching sea<br />Cities hubs of huge, geographically-stretched systems of infrastructure to metabolise enormous flows of food, water, energy, wastes, commodities, 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, flow and exchange<br />
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  10. 10. Anthropocene Concept Resonates With Posthumanist Ontologies Put Forward by Actor-Network and Cyborg Urbanisation Theories<br />Imagined fixed human/machine, human/animal, physical/non-physical, social/technological & social/natural binaries and boundaries blur away<br />A subjectification of objects, and the objectification of subjects (Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour etc.)<br />“The characteristic of the factory planet is the capitalist subsumption not just of production, not just of comsumption, not just of social reproduction (as in Fordism), but of life’s informational, genetic and ecological dimensions” Nick Dyer-Witheford<br />Urban Technonaturein a world of ‘post-humans’: “Cyborgs are not creatures of pristine Nature; they are the planned and unplanned offspring of manufactured environments, fusing into new organic compounds of naturalized matter and artificialized anti-matter” Tim Luke (1997) <br />
  11. 11. “The entire planet now is increasingly a ‘built environment’ or ‘planned habitat’ as pollution modifies atmospheric chemistry, urbanization restructures weather events, biochemistry redesigns the genetics of existing biomass, and architecture accretes new biotic habitats inside of sprawling megacities.” <br />(Luke T W, 1997, "At the end of Nature: cyborgs, 'humachines', and environments in postmodernity" Environment and Planning A 29(8) 1367 – 1380 )<br />
  12. 12. Matthew Gandy: Cyborg Urbanisation<br />Cyborgian thinking suggests a way of thinking about cities as a whole<br />Geographically and temporally-stretched hybrids of human, organic, technological, continually connecting urban sites and processes to ‘rural’ ones<br />Helps create a new vocabulary for understanding what we mean by the ‘public realm’ against the vulnerability and inter-dependency of urban societies and the complex technological networks and organic and biospheric metabolisms, stretched across different geographical & temporal scales, that make them possible.<br />
  13. 13. Eric Swyngedouw and Maria Kaika: <br />Metabolisation of water central to metabolism of cyborg cities<br />‘Socionatures’ based on distant sourcing, hydro-engineering of whole nations, and the circulation of water through the metabolic spaces of the body and the city<br />
  14. 14. Cyborg Urbanisation Revealed During Disruption of Infrastructures<br />“Cyborgs, like us, are endlessly fascinated by machinic breakdowns, which would cause disruptions in, or denials of access to, their megatechnical sources of being.” (above NYC blackout, 2003)<br />(Luke T W, 1997, "At the end of Nature: cyborgs, 'humachines', and environments in postmodernity" Environment and Planning A 29(8) 1367 – 1380 )<br />
  15. 15. Tim Luke: ‘Denature’<br />“After two centuries of industrial revolution and three decades of informational revolution, Nature no longer can be assumed to be God-created (theogenic) or self-creating (autogenic). What is taken to be "nature" now is largely human-created (anthropogenic), not only in theory but also in practice. One need not wait for the science fiction of advanced space travel technologies to contact other "extra-terrestrial life forms," the science facts of altered atmospheric chemistry, rampant genetic engineering, and unchecked species extinctions suggest that urban industrial humanity is a race extra-terrestrial intelligent beings already intent upon imperializing the Earth in cyborg colonies with humachinic technologies. ”<br />(Luke T W, 1997, "At the end of Nature: cyborgs, 'humachines', and environments in postmodernity" Environment and Planning A 29(8) 1367 – 1380 )<br />
  16. 16. Infrastructure disruptions reveal often taken for granted and normalised ‘infrastructures’ and cyborg assemblies especially blackoutsIn cyborg cities, increasingly threaten life, not mere inconvenience<br />
  17. 17. Also unerringly reveal the often concealed politics of cyborganised cities<br />e.g. Katrina in 2005 not a ‘natural disaster,’ ‘technical failure’ or ‘Act of God.’ Rather, the inevitable result of:<br />Climate change accentuating hurricanes<br />Hitting a city denuded of natural protection and<br />Very poorly covered by a levee network that was systematically racially biased over centuries of constructed socio-nature in more recent context of <br />A Neoconservative and racist Federal Government that had systematically skewed Emergency Planning towards terrorism for political ends<br />
  18. 18. Dominant Responses: Earth Systems Engineering,Geoengineering, Securitisation<br />“The world as design space” ; “The human as design space” Brad Allenby<br />“Earth Systems Engineering and Management is the capability to design, engineer, and manage, through dialog and continual feedback, integrated built/human/natural systems that achieve the multivariate and sometimes 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 existing complex adaptive systems.” Brad Allenby<br />
  19. 19. We must be wary of ‘quick technical fix’ ideas of ‘Terraforming’, ‘Geoengineering’ and ‘Earth Systems Engineering’ in the Anthropocene. These tend to depoliticiseand commodifythe problems, legitimise an unchanged political economy, and would inevitably bring major unintended effects<br />
  20. 20. Securitisation and Weaponisation of the Anthropocene<br />Ole Wæver's Copenhagen School Securitization Theory (1995)<br /> Security as a “speech act” where a securitizing actor designates a threat to a specified reference object and declares an existential threat implying a right to use extraordinary means to fend it off.<br /> Such a process of “securitization” is successful when the construction of an “existential threat” by a policy maker is socially accepted and where “survival” against existential threats is crucial.<br />Strong Anthropocenic turn in securitisation discourse<br />
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  22. 22. The AnthropocenicGlobal City System: A New Imperialism?<br />Neoliberalised ‘global’ cities often have a parasitic relationship with near and distant hinterlands<br />“Bio-rifts of neoliberalism” Dyer-Witheford<br />Resource (food, water, energy) grabs organised and finance through the financial centres and technopoles of the North’s global finance capitals<br />New highly regressive paradigms of ‘urban ecological security’ (Simon Marvin and Mike Hodgson) E.g. Daewoo (South Korean corporation) has just leased half of all the arable land in Madagascar to feed South Korean cities in the future<br />
  23. 23. Biopiracy and biofuels push (indigenous groups in Indonesia, protesting, above)<br />Global South ‘land grab’ <br />by global North <br />agribusiness<br />
  24. 24. Conclusions (i) : The Anthropocenic City?<br />Throws “us onto a meta-historical playing field without a clue as to how to play the game” Gibson-Graham and Roelvink (2010)<br />Drastically destablise concepts of ‘city’, ‘technology’, ‘nature’ and ‘scale’, along with ‘urban-rural’, ‘natural-social’, ‘natural-technological’ and ‘global-local’ binaries that persist in orthodox and policy discourses<br />Particularly profound implications for conceptualisations of the ‘urban’. Is the entire Anthropocenic biosphere, in effect, ‘urban’? Tim Luke (2009) talks of the multiple interconnections and new spatial practices of “urbanatura” (Tim Luke, 2009); <br />“The accidental normaliity of greenhouse-gassing global capitalism envelops humans, non-humans, and hybrids in technonaturalized systems and structures” (Tim Luke, 2009)<br />Crucially, these processes map continuously onto, and through, more usual policy paradigms and discourses: “whether they examine technoscience operations, natural disasters, or socio-spatial collapses”, new research must “scan the property boundaries of urban space as they are stabilized in ordinary policy terms such as urbanization, land use, environment, river basins, industrialization, economic growth, sprawl, or natural resources. Once scrutinized more closely, the unstable, unconventional, and undetected properties of multiple industrial hybridities do emerge out of foggy phenomena, including the ’greenhouse effect’” (Tim Luke, 2009)<br />
  25. 25. (ii) Limits of ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmentalist’ discourses<br />Reveals limits of both ‘sustainability’ and environmentalist debates: Sustainability discourses often involve elements of ‘greenwash’, over-aesthetic conceptions, or outright bourgeois environmentalism.<br />“Sustainability is too often a self-absorbed mechanism for avoiding the complexity of the Anthropogenic world” Brad Allenby<br />Environmentalist tropes of pristine nature, meanwhile, “suggest the importance of minimizing alterations of many habitats; but so many habitats are now obviously "artificial" that the invocation of a preservationist ethos is frequently inappropriate if ecology, rather than aesthetics, is considered as the basis for policy prescription” Simon Dalby<br />Nevertheless, “the single most important cause of global warming – the urbanization of humanity – is also potentially the principal solution to the problem of human survival in the 21st century~ Mike Davis<br />
  26. 26. (iii) Anthropocenic Ethics<br />New “technonatural formations” required based on a “foundational reimagination of the innovations unfolding in many intersecting terms in what are called “Nature” and “society”’ (Tim Luke)<br />Need a new ethics of research and action for the Anthropocene to politicise the Anthropocenic city: Must blur debates about global neoliberalised political economy, global urbanisation, global environmental change and environmetal justice<br />“About human beings being transformed by the world in which we find ourselves” Gibson-Graham and Roelvink (2010); Davis’ “insurgent communities, pirate technologies, bootlegged media, rebel science, and forgotten utopias”<br />Planetary, anthropocenic, urban and human concepts of ‘security’ required rather than national-militaristic ones:<br />Dangers that dominant responses -- earth systems and geoengineering and securitisation -- offer myths of technological panaceas based on further securitisation, commodification, colonisation centred on global north corporate capital and ‘global’ metropolitan regions (Hogson and Marvin)<br />Emerging militarisation of Anthropocene? Oil, biofuels, biopiracy, water, land-grabs and food security<br />
  27. 27. Thus, in the Anthropocene we will be confronted with a form of world political economy in which global warming and other totalizing commodifications are risked in the pursuit of progress. Whereas the initial stages of commodification tested the statics of nature (namely the absorption capacities of land, water, and air), the Anthropocene challenges the dynamics of nature, in particular, the seasons, the tides, the breathing of the planet, and the reproductive cycles of living things.<br />While the emblems of advancing industrialism remain waste, pollution, and risk, there has been a fundamental breach of the nature-society relation in the Anthropocene. Modern life transpires not simply outside the constraints of nature, but relegates nature to commodity status, to be purchased and sold in the world along with other products and services.<br />John Byrne, Leigh Glover and Cecilia Martinez 2002<br />
  28. 28. Brad allenby<br />
  29. 29. 1. Cities, Nature, Technology : Traditional Concepts<br />Modernist ideas based on imagining city as being separate, and opposed to an externalised Nature, to be ‘conquired’ through technoscientific modernity<br />Nature separated from the social, urban, human world<br />Technological ‘progress’ a means to heroically master nature, geography and time: e.g. US “Manifest destiny”<br />‘Built’ environments threaten to overcome and pollute ‘natural’ ones<br />Deny social production of nature and reliance of urbanisation on ecological transformations<br />Humans ands cities not external to ecosystems<br />
  30. 30. But post-mortems for such events become messy!<br />“A distributive notion of agency does interfere with the project of blaming. But it does not thereby abandon the project of identifying [ ] the sources of harmful effects. To the contrary, such a notion broadens the range of places to look for sources. ”<br />Must look at the “selfish intentions and energy policy that provides lucrative opportunities for energy trading while generating a tragedy of the commons”; at “the stubborn directionality of a high-consumption social infrastructure”; and at “the unstable power of electron flows, wildfires, ex-urban housing pressures, and the assemblages they form” Jane Bennett<br />Jane Bennett, (2005) “The Agency of Assemblages and <br />the North American Blackout,” Public Culture 17(3): 445–65. Pp. 463.<br />
  31. 31. Erle Ellis<br />
  32. 32. During the past three centuries, the human population has increased tenfold to more than 6 billion and is expected to reach 10 billion in this century. The methane-produc- ing cattle population has risen to 1.4 billion. About 30–50% of the planet’s land surface is exploited by humans. Tropical rainforests disappear at a fast pace, releasing carbon dioxide and strongly increasing species extinction. Dam building and river diver- sion have become commonplace. More than half of all accessible fresh water is used by mankind. Fisheries remove more than 25% of the primary production in upwelling ocean regions and 35% in the temperate continental shelf. Energy use has grown 16-fold during the twentieth century, causing 160 million tonnes of atmospheric sulphur dioxide emissions per year, more than twice the sum of its natural emissions. More nitrogen fertilizer is applied in agriculture than is fixed naturally in all terrestrial ecosystems; nitric oxide prod- uction by the burning of fossil fuel and biomass also overrides natural emissions. Fossil-fuel burning and agriculture have caused substantial increases in the concen- trations of ‘greenhouse’ gases — carbon dioxide by 30% and methane by more than 100% — reaching their highest levels over the past 400 millennia, with more to follow.So far, these effects have largely been caused by only 25% of the world popula- tion. The consequences are, among others, acid precipitation, photochemical ‘smog’ and climate warming. Hence, according to the latest estimates by the Intergovernmen- tal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Earth will warm by 1.4–5.8 °C during this century.<br />Paul J. Crutzen 2002<br />

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