- Nov 2021
For low-carbon practices to grow and displace high-carbon ones, integrated action across disparate spaces and coordination between many different actors are necessary (161). For example, mobility scholars (166) highlight the extent of reconfiguration required to disassociate academia from high-carbon travel, including altered institutional cultures, funding practices, and student recruitment to support virtual ways of working. Although novel low-carbon practices may emerge, policy must ensure these stabilize and become prevalent, as well as impeding the circulation of high-carbon practices.
A new social imaginary of cosmolocality, where we spend most of our time locally, but use information technology as the prime method for nonlocal communication. In other words, replacing transportation with lower footprint communications.
In the field of production and provisioning systems, cosmolocal production implies designing and sharing designs globally, and downloading the appropriate ones for local clean production, thereby minimizing global supply chains.
Graduated relocalization that begins to replace auto transportation with pedestrian and bike traffic can result in huge decarbonization impacts. This relocalization movement is also an economic reconfiguration, echoing what community economist Michael Shuman refers to as the movement from Wall Street to Main Street - decentralizing centralizing organizations when feasible, and creating more community wealth while decarbonizing unnecessarily long supply chains.
Many high-carbon activities are also highly routinized. From a psychological perspective, this bears the hallmarks of habitual behavior, in that environmentally significant actions are often stable, persistent, and an automatic response to particular contexts (159), e.g., commuting by car repeatedly over many months or years. Theories of social practice offer a contrasting account in which routines coevolve with infrastructures, competencies, conventions, and expectations (160). For example, developments in urban infrastructure, everyday routines, and the shifting social significance of private transport have culminated in the car becoming a dominant mode of mobility (161). Elsewhere, coordinated developments across spheres of production and consumption have led to the freezer becoming regarded as a domestic necessity (162), and changing patterns of domestic labor and shifts toward sedentary recreation have contributed to the rise in indoor temperature control (163). Although such assemblages shift over time, policy and action intended to reduce emissions have been ineffective in coordinating changes throughout these social and material configurations. As a consequence, routinized, commonplace, and largely unconscious behaviors remain mostly unaffected, with many high-carbon activities even growing and expanding (e.g., frequent flying).
New stories and narratives, in other words, new social imaginaries of viable low carbon life styles can help bring about a shift. By adopting the viable story, it primes individuals to seek technology elements that are designed to fit that new social imaginary.
As mentioned above, community economists Michael Shuman demonstrates how relocalizing can create new patterns of behavior consistent with a desirable future.
We must engage film-makers, artists, playwrights to create stories of such alternative futures of living within planetary boundaries, doughnut economics and eco-civilizations.
- habitual high carbon behavior
- social imaginary
- michael shuman
- doughnut economics
- 2000 watt society
- planetary boundaries
- wall street to main street
- social imaginaries
- community economics