Land as a System

The Five Thousand Pound Life: Land was a symposium on rethinking land and its value in light of climate change organized by The Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design in September 2014.


5KL: Land | Land as a System | Kevin Bone | Recorded September 26, 2014

In his opening remarks, Kevin Bone brings to light just how recently the impact of carbon dioxide emissions has entered into our conversation on the environment. Contextualizing the day’s conversation through his graduate student work in the 1970s in Elbert County, Colorado — a grassland prairie that has experienced tremendous population growth in recent decades — Bone describes his shift in thinking from land as landscape to land as a complex system. The suburbanization of Elbert County and the accompanying degradation of the grassland ecosystem illustrate the consequences of recent patterns of land use. If, as Bone says, part of the story is how we design our settlements and transportation systems, another part is recognizing, valuing, and strengthening our land’s natural capacities for climate change mitigation — in this case, the grasslands’ ability to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil, a process known as carbon sequestration. This natural process that reduces greenhouse gases opens many questions about prevalent land use strategies and reminds us that confronting our carbon problem is about more than reducing fuel emissions.


Kevin Bone is the Director of The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design.


The Five Thousand Pound Life (5KL) is an initiative of The Architectural League on new ways of thinking, talking, and acting on architecture, climate change, and our economic future.