Illustration: Clare Nicholas
Homes for climate change
1st June, 2009
Building a more sustainable future is vital if our societies are to survive in a post-fossil-fuel future – but, argues Susan Roaf, the way we build must itself first change
As more people consume more resources, pollute more and are increasingly addicted to the rapidly vanishing fossil fuel resource, the news from the warming world gets worse daily. Oil and gas are vital to the way we generate energy, grow, fertilise and refine food, make materials, move goods and people, keep ourselves warm or cool and do the work of our increasingly unequal and energy-hungry societies. But the cost of our oil-dependent lifestyles is proving too high, and as oil prices soared towards $150 a barrel in July 2008, food and energy costs rocketed, house prices and the global economy collapsed.
Experts around the world, such as Ross Garnaut in Australia and Nicholas Stern in Britain, have warned us that failure to act on climate change ‘would haunt humanity until the end of time’. As top-down politics increasingly looks to be failing society, there are many different bottom-up movements experimenting with models to ‘transition’ towards viable 21st-century societies and economies. But quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who is guarding the guardians? Apparently no-one.
Building designers and developers, for some inexplicable reason, have been able to get away with producing...
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