environment | November 21, 2012

Alex Steffen in The Atlantic Cities: Sandy Was A Wake-Up Call

Alex Steffen was recently interviewed by The Atlantic Cities to talk about the future of our cities, and what impact Superstorm Sandy will have on America's political desire to become more sustainable. In his latest book, Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet, Steffen argues that remaking our urban environments to be more sustainable—and more prepared for weather events in a warmer climate—may be the only way of preventing a planetary catastrophe. In the case of Superstorm Sandy, Steffen hopes that the storm's impact will serve as a wake-up call, and urge the public and policy makers alike to seriously consider the ramifications of climate change.

"There’s a palpable sense in America that Sandy was a wake-up call," says Steffen. "In a year when we saw one of the worst droughts in American history, when we’ve seen catastrophic wildfires, when we’ve seen other floods and natural disasters, to also see a thousand-year storm says something about the world that we’re moving into." The cities of the not-so-distant future must be prepared to not only fight climate change by becoming carbon neutral, but also become adept at preparing for—and surviving—unpredictable weather events and other effects of an unstable environment. "The future is a tough place," he says, "and as we move into it, we are going to need to think of ways to reduce our vulnerabilities to not only climate chaos, but all sorts of instabilities that are happening as our economy shifts in the face of planetary realities." In his talks, Steffen delivers clear, concise strategies on how we can rebuild our urban areas, improve our standards of living, and thrive in uncertainty. As Sandy's destruction indicates, now is the time to start.