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Harnessing Urban Creativity
It is increasingly realised that cities are driving conspicuous consumption. This consumption is driving adverse environmental processes such as climate change. For some ten thousand years human practices such as deforestation have driven climate change. This has been imperceptible until recently. Drawing on Jane Jacobs, the celebrated urbanist, we take that is that cities are so very demanding. This insight results in a switch of focus away from policy dominated by supply issues towards the awesome power of urban demand as being decisive. Today this global mass consumption operates through an Advertising-Big Data-Social Media Complex that is turning generic urban demand into what can only be described as ‘terminal consumption’ – we are destroying the Earth as home of humanity. The situation is urgent: American consumerism diffused across the world in the twentieth century and Chinese cities are now moving towards a second huge leap in global consumption. This trend will further accelerate as urbanisation in other parts of the world grows. Policies aiming to generate ‘sustainable cities’ through local mitigations and adaptations to climate change are simply not enough. Urban creativity has to be harnessed towards reinventing the city as a device for environmental activism. We call this the ‘stewardship city’: the vitality of cities, currently resulting in economic growth to sustain our consumption, converts to producing innovations to sustain our environment. China is a good place to begin activating a new urban demand for a healthy world.