Can innovation be the solution to climate change?
The “Green New Deal” has quickly become shorthand for a last-ditch effort to prevent climate change – one in which…READ MORE
This issue of the URBAN-X Zine explores the role of new technologies and venture capital in addressing our climate crisis. It puts into question the notion of “better” and progress against the human centric perspective of our era, the Anthropocene. Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at New Cities Foundation, is the guest editor for this issue. He has covered cities and technology for more than 20 years.
The flower Hibiscadelphus woodii was thought to be extinct until this spring, when the Hawaiian National Tropical Botanical Garden announced it had discovered a few hardy specimens clinging to a cliff. Before that, the artist Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg had spent a year reconstructing the scent of another long-dead hibiscus, prompting her to wonder which world is better – one where the technology exists to resurrect the scent of lost flowers, or one in which they never went extinct at all? While the answer may seem obvious, in our rush to create better cities she reminds us to inquire: “What is better? Whose better? Who decides?”
Technology promises to solve many of our problems, including challenges that are part of our urban lives. Yet under the premise of greater efficiency, accessibility, enhanced experiences, and betterness, are we really solving challenges or simply creating new ones? Our relationship with the environment is under threat, and while this might be seen as the consequence of a selfish human condition, it’s reflective of our own limitations – nature doesn’t need us, we need nature.
In this issue’s centerpiece about green-impact investing, the German Marshall Fund’s David Zipper notes that the Green New Deal resolution is framed in a vision of social justice, asserting a different notion of better than purely market forces would dictate.
We profile URBAN-X Cohort 05 members Toggle and Treau who interrogate the Jevons Paradox, which states that every attempt at better energy efficiency eventually becomes its own undoing. As climate change gathers speed, it is equally imperative to decide what a “better place” is, in order to invest in and invent the technology to achieve it.
On Dec. 04, URBAN-X will convene a roundtable of entrepreneurs and investors to debate the roles of government, startups, and venture capital in forging a path forward, and launch ‘Better’ – Issue 03 of the URBAN-X Zine.