Browse by title
Erik Swyngedouw and Maria Kaika
The chapter starts from the premise that it is vitally important to recognize that the rapid rate of planetary urbanization is the main driver of environmental change. Indeed, the “sustainability” of contemporary urban life (understood as the expanded reproduction of its socio-physical form and functions) is responsible for 80 percent of the world’s use of resources and most of the world’s waste. We wish to highlight how these urban origins are routinely ignored in urban theory and practice, and how feeble techno-managerial attempts to produce more “sustainable” forms of urban living are actually heightening the combined and uneven socio-ecological apocalypse that marks the contemporary dynamics of planetary urbanization. This chapter is, therefore, not so much concerned with the question of nature IN the city, as it is with the urbanization OF nature, understood as the process through which all forms of nature are socially mobilized, economically incorporated, and physically metabolized/transformed in order to support the urbanization process. First, we shall chart the strange history of how the relationship between cities and environments has been scripted and imagined over the last century or so. Second, we shall suggest how the environmental question entered urban theory and practice in the late twentieth century. And, finally, we shall explore how and why, despite our growing understanding of the relationship between environmental change and urbanization and a consensual focus on the need for “sustainable” urban development, the environmental conundrum and the pervasive problems it engenders do not show any sign of abating. We shall conclude by briefly charting some of the key intellectual and practical challenges ahead. Keywords: environmental politics; socio-ecological conflict urban political ecology; urban theory.
Yuko Aoyama and Balaji Parthasarathy
Kevin Archer and Kris Bezdecny
Seattle is often thought of as a traditionally sustainable city, particularly given its natural environmental setting and the seemingly progressive and outdoorsy vigor of its now largely service economy-based workforce. The city’s actual history, however, has involved much anthropocentric environmental terraforming, from the drastic leveling of downtown hills to the massive infilling of estuaries and waterfronts on to the canalization of lakes from fresh to salt water. This chapter briefly takes account of this history with a particular emphasis on the terraforming that has affected Seattle’s only river, the Duwamish, the estuary of which was almost completely engineered out of existence and heavily industrialized. This historical overview sets the context for the body of the chapter, which discusses the contemporary attempt to somehow “restore” a more ecocentric river more suitable for seemingly more sustainable post-industrial times. The key theme will be what it actually means to restore a river that is no longer a river with various stakeholders desiring and therefore foreseeing many, quite varying, outcomes for such a restoration.
Spain has become a popular retirement destination for British citizens; its warm climate, lower living costs and relaxed pace of life has attracted those looking for a more fulfilling retirement. Most retirees are fit and healthy when they move to Spain; however, growing old can bring increased vulnerabilities, especially vulnerability to ill-health, disability and frailty resulting in an abrupt end to the third age and the onset of the ‘fourth age’ of dependence and decline. This chapter focuses on the health and care issues facing retired British migrants in Spain who have grown old and frail. Drawing on research undertaken by the author and others, it explores rights and access to health and social care services. There are considerable differences in health and care services between Northern and Southern European countries that are often not anticipated by migrants when they move, resulting in a tension between expectations and reality underpinned by different cultural understandings of care. As such, older migrants often seek alternative routes to health and social care including through the voluntary sector in Spain and returning to the UK to access support in old age.