Topics in Design & Theory - Landscapes of Extraction and Sequestration
Tuesday 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
What will it take to address climate change? Increasingly, it looks like it will take both a complete overhaul of energy infrastructure, and also a massive amount of carbon sequestration. How will carbon sequestration be depolyed, by whom, and what could it look like? How might future landscapes of carbon sequestration mirror previous patterns of energy extraction, or forge alternative pathways?
Landscapes of energy extraction and carbon sequestration may be located far from one another, yet they are closely connected through the dynamics of the carbon economy, the legacy patterns of territorial power and control, and of the cultural narratives that we tell. This seminar delves into energy infrastructure and its deeply-held cultural narratives, and analyzes some promising carbon sequestration practices and their cultural landscapes. Extraction and sequestration are two sides of an expanded concern with the resource territories required to power the industrialized world, and to deal with its byproducts.
The fist part of the class will look at how the large-scale infrastructure projects built to enable that extraction have long acted as powerful organizers of territory: how energy infrastructure projects have historically been used to project power, extract value, and reshape patterns of labor and settlement — whether it’s the canals that were built to support coal extraction in Pennsylvania, the geography of oil pipelines and oil ports, or emerging kinds of renewable energy that continue to carry old legacy patterns of power.
The second half — landscapes of sequestration — will survey a range of landscape strategies with the potential to “draw down” the atmospheric carbon pool — from new technological approaches, to new kinds of agriculture and forestry management, to coastal mangrove restoration and the farming of coastal “blue carbon.” We will investigate the ecological principles behind these strategies, and critically analyze the spatial and cultural effects that these practices can have.
From carbon markets to carbon capture, these practices are not neutral: this seminar will dig into the contested narratives of how carbon should be managed, and critically interrogates the spatial choices that will underpin the energy system of the future.