Extreme Cities: Ground Zero for Climate Change

No matter how we tackle climate change, cities are key. They emit massive amounts of carbon and they’re ground zero for the climate crisis. But could they also prove to be the sites of our best climate solutions? That’s this week on The Laura Flanders Show.

“It takes a lot of energy to keep buildings cool. In New York City, buildings contribute about 70% of the city’s carbon emissions. So in addition to transportation, those are the major factors in cities, and we’ve got massive cities growing around the planet.” – Ashley Dawson

“I think you have to start with a dream and thinking outside the box. And creating policy that actually directly affects change. And that comes from the ground up. It doesn’t come from the top down.” – Mychal Johnson

“It’s our public environment, it’s our public spaces, it’s our city. If we think that we have the right to the city, we have to actually verify that we have some agency over what happens. And right now we don’t.” – Aurash Khawarzad

Featured Guests:

Ashley Dawson, Professor of English, CUNY Graduate Center

“My fields of specialization are cultural studies, environmental humanities, and postcolonial studies.  Areas of interest of mine include the experience and literature of migration, including movement from colonial and postcolonial nations to the former imperial center (Britain in particular) and from rural areas to mega-cities of the global South such as Lagos and Mumbai.  I have also worked recently on contemporary discourses of U.S. imperialism and on the movement for climate justice.”

Mychal Johnson, Co-Founder, South Bronx Unite

“Mychal Johnson has a long-standing track record in community-based advocacy for environmental and economic justice. Mychal is the co-founder of South Bronx Unite, a coalition of residents, organizations and allies confronting policies that perpetuate harm and building support for viable community-driven solutions in the South Bronx, where one in five children suffer from asthma because of the oversaturation of industrial facilities and diesel truck intensive businesses and decades of neglect.”

Aurash Khawarzad, Artist, Educator and Urban Planner

“Aurash Khawarzad is an Artist, Educator, and Urban Planner. His work uses a combination of research, creative practice, and multi-disciplinary collaboration, as a means of visioning communities. Most recently he created of The Upper Manhatta(n) Project, a model for creating resilience to climate change. He is originally from Virginia and has been practicing in New York City since 2009.”


From Laura:

New York City recently became the largest city on earth to pass a climate emergency measure. Joining London, Sydney, and hundreds of other localities and 15 countries in calling for an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate. And no wonder! Cities house the majority of humanity. They contribute the lion’s share of carbon to the atmosphere. And they are particularly vulnerable to climate chaos in part, because they’re so unequal. What happens here in New York, but also in all of the world’s big coastal cities matters, and it better go beyond words on paper.