Join us as we discuss how cities will need to evolve to accommodate and become Cities for future humans, specifically against the backdrop of climate change.
There is no greater challenge to our habitats than climate change. This man-made phenomena is creating social, biological, geo-political and economic challenges, which at the moment our cities are not equipped to handle or solve.
In 2018, London experienced an unusually long heatwave. This is a problem as cities such as London have been built and are managed within certain established climate frameworks. Sustained changes to their ecology have consequential impacts to people as they try to adapt to these changes. There is now strong evidence that suggests when temperature rises in cities the concentration of certain air pollutants causes the air quality to diminish. For children, pregnant people, and the elderly these changes can produce long lasting health complications in addition to heightened stress levels and daily discomfort.
These changes also put a strain on existing buildings as people demand more heating or cooling, which can have detrimental effects to health, environment, and operational costs for public and private organisations. London is not alone. Chicago grinded to a halt this winter due to arctic-like conditions. In addition to buildings, impacts to infrastructure, such as transport networks, put already vulnerable people like the poor, elderly, and the neurodiverse – who may already be unable to access necessary resources – in life-threatening conditions. Even cities like Miami, which is seeing a renaissance, may have to count their success short as extreme flooding could make it unlivable in the future.
A city that cannot respond to climate changes from a human lens is destined to exacerbate human problems in an era where we are collectively trying to create solutions. Climate change has typically been expressed from the perspectives of environmental and physical elements of cities but not enough has discussed in terms of human issues such as inequality, migration, and health. The field of neuroscience now offers a lens to observe this and relate issues such as air pollution spikes and increases in the urban heat island effect and the decline of cognitive performance for both adults and children.
This conference will approach this challenge from two perspectives. The first is the human perspective, defining who will become more vulnerable as we face these urban changes. Secondly, we will look at what new technologies and methods are available to start making cities that enable human life for now in and in the future.