Can neuroscience provide cities with answers to climate change?
Ahead of HSBC’s Cities of the Future 2019 conference, Connected Places Catapult CEO Nicola Yates OBE explored how Neuroscience can supply answers for cities in search of answers to the challenges of climate change.
Climate change is the most immediate and significant threat to city life and infrastructure we have seen in all of human history. At the moment, there is not a single major city that could be qualified as being climate ready. This lack of preparation has the potential to have health, infrastructure, and economic repercussions. The threat can be seen in three aspects:
Firstly, many global cities will experience unprecedented population growth from the arrival of climate migrants.
Secondly, it will put significant strain on current infrastructure, ill-suited to the changing climate conditions and escalating demand.
Thirdly, it will change the quality of experience of cities, with pollution, heat island effects, extreme weather events adding to the everyday pains of urban growth.
The human consequences of these trends will be detrimental, in particular in relation to mental and physical illness. Meanwhile, cities will need to continue their role as nexus of human activity, culture, and innovation, therefore it is important to find solutions to save our cities.
Despite the size of the challenge, we are living at an apex of science and technology, which means that we can easily access the right solutions. We have an opportunity to not only save cities but improve them beyond current measures. Cities of the future should provide dignity, safety and health to all of its inhabitants. One of the sciences that will emerge as a leader as we confront climate change and strive to make cities that are genuinely healthier for people is neuroscience.
With neuroscience we have the capacity to understand the biological and cognitive impact city infrastructure has on people. In turn, that understanding provides crucial insights for urban planners, engineers, government, architects and innovators to use in developing new spaces and solutions that improve the quality of life in cities.
In our Neuroscience Playbook for Placemakers we explore the role of neuroscience in the built environment, the top down influencers that are affecting our cities, how urban stressors caused by poor infrastructure affect people at a biological and cognitive level, and the steps cities should consider taking to sustain quality of life in our towns and cities.