Urban development and regeneration in the UK commonly favours geographically defined and marketable projects over more dispersed investment throughout a city’s local high streets. The creation of new, branded urban centres (for shopping, recreation and premium residential) may be regarded by investors and planning officers as more economically and politically effective in ‘enlivening’ a city’s economy.
“161 micrograms of ozone per meter cubed of air as an eight hour rolling mean”.
Behaviour change interventions have so far had surprisingly limited success in motivating wider society into taking positive environmental actions. Despite constant bombardment of messages regarding melting ice caps, drowning polar bears and exceptional droughts, a significant majority of the population still do little more than put the recycling out and buy Fairtrade bananas from their local supermarket.
Urban areas have become a place of growing focus for the mitigation of climate change, and cities all over the world are increasingly engaging and acting where nations are failing to. As complex systems and places of concentrated consumption, urban areas are acknowledged to have a significant environmental impacts and therefore responsibility in providing solutions. Their low carbon potential and ‘win-wins’ for the environment and society are increasingly recognised. However, in reality it appears that despite good intentions a gap between rhetoric and action persists.
The current Zeitgeist of sustainability has pushed the role of the ‘ethical designer’ into the forefront of industry. Design is about improving the life of the end user. The decisions we make in the early stages of the design process will affect the way people interact with the world around them, so responsibility for making ethical decisions as this stage is paramount.
What is nature worth? What is water worth? Is trying to answer this question simply ‘putting a price on nature’, thereby supporting its subversion to the perversities of a broken economic system?