A conversation on shipping and climate change

A panel discusses the challenges of reducing the carbon impacts associated with sea shipping.

June 14, 2018

Recorded on June 14, 2018.

In the closing conversation of the League’s sea shipping and climate change event, Charmaine Chua, Daniel Aldana Cohen, Bryan Comer, and Jesse LeCavalier discuss the relationship between sea shipping, consumption patterns, and greenhouse gas emissions. The panel suggests that while shipping is actually the least carbon-intensive mode of transportation, it perpetuates an unsustainable system by facilitating increased demand for goods.

Links to presentations given by Comer and Chua, recorded immediately prior to this conversation, can be found in the Related section below. Also included below is a primer on the carbon impact of shipping (and aviation) from Professor Alice Larkin of the University of Manchester and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research that was presented as an introduction to the session.

Designer Jesse LeCavalier and sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen serve as moderators and interlocutors for all programs in The Five Thousand Pound Life: Transportation series.

Jesse LeCavalier is a designer, writer, and educator whose work explores the architectural and urban implications of contemporary logistics. He is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). He is assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. His work has been published widely, including contributions to Cabinet, Public Culture, Places, Art Papers, and Harvard Design Magazine.

Daniel Aldana Cohen is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)2, which investigates the intersection of social and ecological inequalities in the built environment, with an eye to broad public engagement and public policy. His work focuses on the politics of climate change, investigating the intersections of climate change, political economy, inequalities of race and social class, and political projects of elites and social movements in global cities of the North and South. His work on the first per capita map of New Yorkers’ carbon footprint was featured in The Nonstop Metropolis: A New York Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Jonathan Jelly Shapiro.

Bryan Comer is a senior researcher in the International Council on Clean Transportation’s Marine Program. His research informs policies that reduce the environmental and human health impacts of air pollution from marine vessels and ports, including black carbon. Comer specializes in marine and port emissions inventories and in modeling the economic, environmental, and energy use tradeoffs of freight transportation policies. He holds a PhD in environmental science and policy from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, as well as an MS and BS in public policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Charmaine Chua is a Singaporean writer and assistant professor of politics at Oberlin College. Her research is on the politics of global circulation, and explores three main intersections: the rise of logistics in capitalist world order, the politics of built infrastructure, and the colonial afterlives of global supply chains. She is currently working on a book manuscript that uses political ethnography to examine the transpacific container trade as a logistical economy of racialized containment and carceral violence. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Historical Materialism, Political GeographyEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space, and the Journal of Narrative Politics.

As part of the The Five Thousand Pound Life: Transportation, Connection and its Costs: Sea Shipping and Climate Change was a discussion on rethinking transportation modes and their collective impact on greenhouse gas emissions organized by The Architectural League in June 2018. The series focused on air and sea in the spring of 2018 and will continue with two events on land-based transit in the fall of 2018.

The Five Thousand Pound Life is the League’s ongoing initiative to rethink our collective future through design in the face of climate change.