SEQUESTROPOLIS: The City as a Machine for Combating Global Warming

Global warming is the biggest challenge that the human race faces today. Our studio will focus on what a city can do to lower global temperature and balance its own carbon / heat-load footprint.  How can investment in natural and artificial systems be integrated into our urban environments so to provide the benefits we need to survive a warming earth?

This studio will be working with the Harvard Forest thathas projected four plausible but divergent scenarios in terms of land use as it pertains to development, forestation, agricultural use amongst other variables.  These studies simulate change within the entire 20,300 km2 of Massachusetts, however, urban areas are not included, thereby creating “Black Holes”, that ideally, should be included to create a holistic picture and further support the studies produced by the Harvard Forest.

Our studio will explore Boston, set in 2060, as our “Black Hole” by using Harvard Forest’s “Regional Reliance” scenario as our base. This scenario represents a future in which a global energy crisis drives dramatic increases in the cost of key commodities, namely oil and food, which is forcing a new paradigm of land use motivated by interest in greater reliance on locally sourced resources. Rising gas prices encourage development near cities to reduce the transportation cost associated with commuting by car. Droughts and heightened competition for land for biofuels in the Midwest have caused food prices to soar, driving a growing market for local foods, resulting in high rates of forest conversion to pasture and cropland.

Our studio’s task will be to explore how and where to insert natural systems plus quantify their benefits. We will take first and foremost the sequestration of GHG through techniques such as forestation, bio-char and soil absorption, as well as new technologies that support global cooling. Within the city, we will find enough areas to provide a meaningful impact on both sequestering CO2 as well as serving other important ecological functions.

The ultimate goal of the studio will be to imagine Boston in 2060, and map and shape the insertions of natural and man-made systems to reduce CO2 and cool the environment. We will, as a group initiative, project a future so the city can become more self-reliant to meet the overall objectives set by Harvard Forest’s Regional “Reliance Scenario.”

We will hear from a number of scientists and experts on global warming from across Harvard University in a series of lectures. This studio is offered in conjunction with Harvard Forest, and will involve Professor David Foster from Harvard Forest, and Dr. Markus Jatsch as Teaching Associate.

This studio meets regularly on Wednesdays and Thursday. Markus Jatsch will lead studio instead of Martha Schwartz on the following dates: February 15, 16, 22, 23, March 8, 9, 22, 23, April 5, 6, 19, 20.