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The world today is facing an unprecedented concurrence of threats both natural and human-driven, ranging from climate change, humanitarian crises with mass migration, water and food shortages to political intrusions, high- and low-intensity conflicts, new wars, slavery, terrorism and chemical weapons. The shock and turbulence they produce have become an intrinsic property of reality, creating an unstable and insecure world in which to live, at the beginning of "Anthropocene". The Anthropocene era is a new geological epoch characterized by pervasive human influence on Earth's system, its atmosphere, lands, oceans, and biogeochemical nutrient cycling (Crutzen & Stoermer, 2000; Crutzen, 2006). It seems "to show high rates of free energy flows. The need to change and to adopt wisely to this liquid environment is increasing the sensations of insecurity and fragility experienced by people" (Peres et al., 2019: 117).
Cities are in the front line of climate change. They not only need to cope with the unprecedented challenges it creates but due to the significance of their contribution to that change, must be vital protagonists in its mitigation. This timely volume has done much, not only to explore why it is important for cities to take action, but more importantly perhaps, to highlight current barriers and blockages that we face in seeking to drive that change and to propose ways in which they may be overcome.
Axel Franzen and Sebastian Mader
Environmental problems such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, air and water pollution, or the sealing of soils are urgent problems of humankind. They have been on the political agenda for many years but sustainable solutions and improvements are still missing in most areas. Many of these problems require technical solutions such as efficient ways to produce enough energy, housing, and food for an increasing world population. However, environmental problems are caused by humans, and it is only through a change of human behavior that they can be solved. These changes require that humans change the way they generate and use energy, substituting coal, oil, and gas by renewable energy sources. Moreover, adopting new technologies might not be enough but must go hand in hand with changes in lifestyle, reductions in consumption, reductions in mobility, and reductions in the use of land. The required changes will probably include all areas of life including our nutrition and how we grow food.