Posted January 16, 2017
Xi comes to Davos
Among the diplomats, corporate titans, politicians and celebrities circulating at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year will be a fresh face: Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It is no accident that 2017 marks the first year that a Chinese president attends the Davos conference. U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is promising a less activist role for America on the global stage, one that includes curtailing the nation’s recent leadership in combating climate change both at home and abroad.Continue Reading...
The life and death of the single-family home
Posted January 4, 2017
How Vancouver learned to love density – and which battles still lie ahead.
Held up as a model for sustainable living, Vancouver has charted a different path from most other North American cities over the past five decades. A blend of purposeful and accidental choices has turned the city into one of the densest places to live, where a majority of residents reside in either townhouses or condos.
This has occurred despite one regulatory relic that Vancouver has been loath to change: RS zoning, which is single-family residential zoning for detached homes. With detached housing only available to current owners or millionaires, these regulations have created a great house reserve that occupies more than three-quarters of Vancouver’s residential land base.Continue Reading...
City of subway lights
Posted December 22, 2016
Los Angeles voters approve massive transit expansion
Voters in Los Angeles County in November overwhelmingly approved Measure M, a ballot initiative that increases the local sales tax to pay for an aggressive expansion of public transit and other infrastructure needs. Measure M would maintain in perpetuity a half-cent sales tax increase put in place by voters in 2008, which has funded the construction of several new light rail lines and which would have expired in 2039. The measure also increased sales taxes by an additional half percentage point, which will raise an estimated $120 billion (U.S.) over the next four decades.Continue Reading...
Editor’s note: eco bros
Posted October 4, 2016
The link between sustainability and gender
After using my girlfriend’s body lotion for a quite a while, I decided one day to stop borrowing and go pick some up for myself at the local drugstore. Without thinking, I gravitated towards the men’s section and was met with a sea of labels, like Every Man Jack, before ultimately settling on Bulldog Skincare for Men. The bottle informed me this was specifically tailored to “man skin,” ensuring that the customer’s fragile masculinity remained intact and well-moisturized. Regular body lotion is for women, but Bulldog is Man’s Best Friend.™Continue Reading...
Empire of things
Posted September 22, 2016
Frank Trentmann outlines the history of consumption and its resonance today.
Denunciations of modern consumer culture have become a staple of the modern environmental movement, the product of an insatiable and corrupting need for more that is driving the planet beyond its limits. On the other side lies the neoliberal view that individual choice is an inherent good that’s driving economic growth. It’s a simplistic summary, but a useful one nonetheless.
Into this debate wades historian Frank Trentmann. His latest book, Empire of Things, is an exhaustive attempt to catalogue the global advance of goods over the past six centuries. In following cultures of consumption around the world, he complicates common misconceptions that consumerism is a modern, western export imposed upon the world. He argues that in West African societies, for example, there were distinct and pre-existing consumer cultures. Another underlying narrative consistently emphasizes the importance of broader factors beyond individual choice, such as consumption patterns influenced by company towns and work camps or government action.Continue Reading...