December 1, 2023 | 4 min read
“We’re not being precise about the scale of the transition that we’re facing when it comes to our planet. I would argue that climate change is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.”
These are the opening words from Indy Johar as he talks to Dr Graham Kelly on our Digital Climate podcast.
Indy is co-founder of Dark Matter Labs and of the RIBA award winning architecture and urban practice Architecture 00, as well as a founding Director of open systems lab and seeded WikiHouse. He has lectured at many institutions: the University of Bath, TU-Berlin, Architectural Association, University College London, Princeton, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Indy is well placed to discuss the sustainable future of the construction industry and in this podcast he doesn’t hold back on his fierce criticisms of societal behaviour.
“We have gone from a world of separation and individuation to a world of entanglements, and I would argue climate change is a feedback system which is now effectively feeding back into us and forcing us to reconcile no longer our individual internalising worldviews, but to an entangled worldview.
“Now, when you make that shift, that shift requires a deep transformation and comprehension of all sorts of things that are the means of structuring the world around us. And when we start to recognise this new world, it coincides with a kind of capacity to build and construct a synthetic identification through new forms of bureaucracy and technologies, I think we’re entering a new paradigm of governance and orchestration of the world around us.”
As the conversation flowed with further discussions of these entanglements, Graham asked Indy how we contextualise the current worldview in order to make this paradigm shift which is absolutely happening around us. Do you believe we are in conflict with everything that’s been set up over the past few decades around the things that are having a monumental negative impact, such as what we buy, how we buy it, how we sell it and how we dispose of it. How do you start to unpick that?
“I think the next 40 years are important. I think when people talk about electrification of cities for example, it’s absolutely right. We do need to electrify our cities. And if you look at the total available copper, we probably have enough available copper on the plant to do that. However, if you look at the available supply in the next 10 years, when we have to do a lot of this work, yeah, that’s more difficult. So, what you find is that actually we’re going to go through this period where supply doesn’t match the demand. At the same time, the volatility in the system is increasing massively. Due to our lack of consciousness on our actions, we are in the midst of a climate breakdown.
“For example, a climate breakdown could be increases in unpredictable weather. If you lose predictable weather, you also lose the ability for insurance in many ways. We’re seeing the results of extreme heat and flooding in places like California and Hawaii, places like Greece and Libya, that are witnessing devastating environmental shifts.
“Now, when you lose the ability for predictable weather, and lose the ability for insurance you also then lose the ability for capital markets to work. So, these forces are coming into play in multiple formats. This means that when structural material supply doesn’t meet the demand and the timescales required, system become unpredictable – putting pressures on the outcomes of human ecological impacts. An urgent transition is required to the way be select, buy, sell and dispose of those things you mentioned, but it’s not going to be easy, we’re in for a turbulent ride.”The topic of the podcast was around don’t fear the future and Graham asked Indy what future actions need to be taken and should the future be feared.
“The future is an invitation to greatness. And it’s an invitation to us as inhabitants of our plant. We are here now, and we need to act now.”
To hear more from Graham and Indy, listen to the full podcast and dive into Indy’s worldviews on climate change, technology and human behaviour.
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