Coming Through Slaughter: ecology of the urban age

Reflecting on the past few decades – we were told it was a time of wondrous growth. We were also reassured that the ‘fundamentals’ were right and that we could look forward to perpetual growth.

At what cost? Countless lives were side-lined and discounted. This was nowhere more evident than in our cities where new netherworlds of poverty have formed. Austerity governance with all of its privatisations and inequities is our inheritance it seems.

We emerge from the consumption carnival, and into the face of the coming storm, weaker not stronger, denuded of resources and of ideas. The twin ecological and social defaults that have opened so dramatically in recent years implicate two institutions as pivots of system failure, markets and governments.

We’ve come through a slaughter of riches and possibilities, to a new realm of human vulnerability. This is no catastrophe, yet. The times compel us to rethink and reset our states and economies in quest of sustainability and resilience. The era of adolescent self-harm must pass to a new maturity where we can live peaceably with Nature and with our own roiling ambitions for freedom and realisation. The dictum of human adulthood might be that ‘There is no creativity in destruction’. Have we learned this yet?

Read the full paper


Brendan Gleeson

MSSI strives to inform and stimulate public conversation about key sustainability questions facing our society. Each MSSI Issues Paper aims to encapsulate the insights of a thinker or practitioner on a particular issue of importance to society. Although material is often closely informed by peer-reviewed academic research, the papers themselves are presented in a clear, discursive style intended for a broad readership.