Cities in deep time: Bio-diversity, metabolic rift, and the urban question

10 Apr 2018

How should we interpret the relationship between urbanization and the loss of bio-diversity? The discourse of bio-diversity serves as a critical lens through which the accelerating momentum of “metabolic rift” can be explored in relation to contemporary mass extinction. But what is the precise role of cities within what has been referred to as the “sixth extinction” facing the history of the earth? Are cities to be subsumed within a broader environmentalist critique of modernity or can they serve as the focal point for alternative cultural, political, and scientific interventions? This article suggests that the distinction between cities and broader processes of urbanization remains significant for a more critically engaged reading of the politics of the biosphere. Indeed, an over emphasis on “methodological globalism” risks obscuring the differences that matter in the articulation of alternative modernities. In particular, we consider how the relationship between cities and “deep time” can be conceptualized as a focal point for the interpretation of global environmental change.