Three Cities: Seeking hope in the Anthropocene
by Rod Oram (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Reviewed by John Lang
We’ve all heard of Beijing, London and Chicago—the three cities Rod Oram scaffolds his latest environmental insights upon—but we’ve not all heard of the Anthropocene; at least not yet. If the term is still slippery, you have an excuse, but not for much longer.
The BWB text, Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene takes readers for a whirlwind trip around the globe searching for the stirrings of something resembling hope, but unsurprisingly, not hope itself.
The Anthropocene epoch, superficially synonymous with climate change, but more accurately associated with the breadth of change being carved out on the natural world by humans, has only just begun, says the Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA). A mere month ago, the WGA voted in favour of formally recommending (to the International Geological Congress) that the Anthropocene qualifies to succeed the 11,700 year-old Holocene epoch.
Oram’s text begins where it should, in Beijing, where the perils of climate change and its hopeful solutions are reacting with such unpredictability, even the most ardent experts can’t foresee the results.
China has admirably, if indignantly, taken to the problem of climate change of late, yet the oxymoron that is ‘sustainable’ and ‘development’ (sustainable development) has never been better embodied than within its borders. Bringing 300 million people out of poverty has had its drawbacks. Armed with a (coal) burning desire to spearhead the international energy transition, mostly born of necessity but with a likely pinch of pride, China plays out the ‘great contradiction’. Others can only gasp, or applaud. In 2015 alone, hundreds of new coal-fired power plants—the antithesis to combatting climate change—were commissioned; at the same time, over one hundred billion dollars was invested in renewable electricity. Read more »