Impossible Sustainability and the Post-political Condition

Part of the Urban and Landscape Perspectives book series (URBANLAND, volume 9)


A great variety of examples of calamities and disasters all testify to the blurring of boundaries between the human and the artificial, the technological and the natural, the non-human and the cyborg-human; they certainly also suggest that there are all manner of Natures out there. While some of the examples promise ’sustainable’ forms of development, others seem to stray further away from what might be labelled as sustainable. Sustainable processes are sought for around the world and solutions for our precarious environmental condition are feverishly developed.

So, while one sort of sustainability seems to be predicated upon feverishly developing new Natures (like artificial meat, cloned stem cells or manufactured clean water), forcing Nature to act in a way we deem sustainable or socially necessary, the other type is predicated upon limiting or redressing our intervention in Nature, returning it to a presumably more benign condition, so that human and non-human sustainability in the medium- and long-term can be assured. Despite the apparent contradictions of these two ways of ’becoming sustainable’, they share the same basic vision that techno-natural and socio-metabolic interventions are urgently needed if we wish to secure the survival of the planet and much of what it contains. The examples suggest that we urgently need to interpolate our understandings of Nature, revisit what we mean by Nature, and, what we assume Nature to be.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and Development, The University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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