Rise of the “Planet B” of the Urbs
A round of climate-treaty negotiations that ended last week in Durban seems a whirlwind away from the bleary discussions in city halls across America about which jobs and which schools should get less money next year. According to the Economist, Cassandras in South Africa are holding signs warning “THERE IS NO PLANET B.” This seems like it should be the venue for historic bargains, gasps that precede pledges to change, and protocols up the wazoo.
But a generation of history shows that international parties muffle or warp climate-control policy. And in the past year, cities from New York to Seattle and around the world have forged ways to address climate change’s impacts with capital projects that plant thirsty species in the ground or retrofit energy-hog buildings. New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, if he doesn’t run for president next year, may be preparing to spend his post-political years overseeing the coalition of cities his charities support.
Cities are Planet B, provided they can talk to each other and trade ideas briskly.
Why, then, are American cities facing budgetary dilemmas and losing federal support? The answer hauls in traditional party politics (which sent money to national parties who now perpetuate themselves) and traditional statecraft. Institutional weight rests with agents who speak for countries and parties. These parties, for climate-resilience purposes, are used to haggling. But to finely motivate behavior change and spread innovation requires a different set of skills.
Cities trade ideas through conferences, both hushed retreats and all-in affairs like the Architecture and Design Education Network’s gathering this past October. To bring these ideas to scale, cities need an international marketplace to match the talking shops. If Greensboro can sell an idea to Greenwich which can then take it apart and lease it out to cities in Africa or Central Europe, imagine the capital that could stir.
Now keep imagining that, as doings like the ones in Durban churn on and on, city delegates siphon good ideas into policies with capital to support them.
Now imagine that cities enforce climate action with a range of incentives and penalties it can coordinate through schools, civic institutions, leases, permits and taxes.
Seems like a new planet, right?
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook