…and yes “we” is you white man. I began this morning grappling with the problem of statistical representation and sustainable imaginaries in the Pearl River Delta, which has roughly the same GDP as Switzerland spread over an area that is only 1.3 times greater than Switzerland. So yes, I live in an important region of the global economy. But here’s the rub: the PRD has a population that is almost 8 times that of Switzerland. This means that sustainable development in the PRD entails grappling with issues at a scale much greater and with fewer resources per person than in Switzerland.
It is estimated by 2030, that the 11 cities of the PRD will comprise a single urban area with a population that could be as high as 80 million and a GDP of more than $US 2 trillion. Consequently, the transformation of the Pearl River Delta ecology from a riparian network of rural areas with markets, towns and integrated (because small-scale) cities into a mega-urban amalgamation is a key region within what many are now calling the Anthropocene, a geological epoch in which human behavior has the power to alter the history of the planet itself.
I think about these issues in a national context in which “climate change” is a topic that is regularly deployed in anti-Chinese rhetoric (Fox News, for example), while even less strident voices continuously express doubt that China can do the necessary for a more sustainable planet (the NYTimes, for example). But again rub, rub, rub: how do we create dignified lives with American characteristics for a country with roughly the same area, roughly the same GDP but four times the population. In other words: how do we learn to share, white men of the Senate? And if there’s not enough to go around, do we have the courage and imagination to change?
So, this morning as I wondered about the Anthropocene, here and elsewhere, as well as viable political economic formations, the disastrous vote in the US Senate came to my attention. In a 50-49 vote, the US Senate claimed that climate change is not caused by human behavior. This vote comes less than a year after the US China Joint announcement on Climate Change was released, which was less than we had hoped for, but was more than idiocy. Distraught, I self-medicated with John Oliver.