cover image Cool Cities: Urban Sovereignty and the Fix for Global Warming

Cool Cities: Urban Sovereignty and the Fix for Global Warming

Benjamin R. Barber. Yale Univ., $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-300-22420-7

In this cautionary and prescriptive volume, CUNY senior research scholar Barber (If Mayors Ruled the World) lays out a strong argument for civic engagement and personal responsibility in the ongoing fight against climate change. He bemoans the limits of national and international politics, encouraging local efforts instead: “Let mayors and their neighbors, the citizens of the world’s cities, address climate, regulate carbon, and guarantee sustainability through cooperative action.” Celebrating what he terms “bottom-up politics,” Barber devotes a sizable chunk of the book to examining concrete solutions that people can implement in their backyards and “strategies cities can actually use to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.” The key is to determine what works best where. For example, bike-share programs will be more successful in flatter Manhattan than hilly San Francisco or sprawling Los Angeles. Meanwhile, places such as Providence, R.I., have uncovered rivers and moved highways to increase biodiversity, improve air quality, and ease traffic. Barber outlines numerous other policies that city governments can consider, including divestment from carbon energy companies, bans on fracking, and rethinking and overhauling green infrastructures. Offering pragmatic ideas to solve complicated issues, Barber challenges readers to exert influence on their localities and gives them reasons to be hopeful. (May)