Cities and the challenge of climate change

Imagining “Good Cities” in a time of dystopia

Authored by: Clive Pearson

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367367121
eBook ISBN: 9780429351181
Adobe ISBN:


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Those doing interdisciplinary research on climate change argue that cities will be the site where most human beings will experience the impact of this emergency. The level of risk to sustainability and resilience coincides with the transition from the Holocene to the Anthropocene, and the potential trajectory of the planet towards what climate scientists have described as “hothouse Earth.” There has been little explicit work done on making theological connections with the current “global research agenda” being done by climate scientists and urban practitioners. Several theorists are already speaking of the advent of “extreme cities” and climate change being a “threat multiplier.” The open question is whether cities will be agile enough to develop the infrastructure and governance required to deal with events like La Canicule in Europe and the recent fires, smoke, and extreme heat faced by cities like Sydney—the world‘s “third most livable city.” Under the umbrella of a public theology—and its concern for contested terms like “the common good”— the Christian faith can play a part in the task of meaning-making in the shadows of imminent endings and dystopia. It possesses a role which includes but goes beyond disaster relief chaplaincies, solar panels on church roofs, and the like.

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