Summary of Extreme Cities

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Extreme Cities book summary


8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Academician Ashley Dawson’s no-holds-barred indictment of the capitalist system and its environmental impact attacks almost everyone who lives and works in the comfort and relative security of the West, especially the urban West. Dawson presents a frank and brave treatise on climate change, exposing how its impact on the world’s poor will increase, thanks to the doings of the comfortable minority. Despite including frequent, repetitive rants, Dawson focuses on cities, where he lays most of the blame for the environmental crisis. He offers radical solutions, though you may get the sense that he doesn’t have all that much faith in them. While his timeline for disaster may be debatable, he ultimately paints a bleak, almost hopeless outlook for the planet and humanity. Dawson covers most of the climate change discussion, including adaptation, but he fails to address technologies, such as carbon sequestration, which offer partial solutions. While the opinions are those of the author, getAbstract recommends this treatise to those who follow issues related to science, income inequity and climate change. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • How climate change affects mostly cities,
  • Why the urban poor will suffer most from the impact of climate change and
  • What factors will help people grasp the implications of this slowly arriving apocalypse.

About the Author

Ashley Dawson teaches English at the City University of New York. His research centers on global migration and North-South dynamics.



Goodbye, Miami and the Big Easy

Many great cities abut rivers or oceans. This makes them vulnerable to sea rise due to climate change. In the United States, Miami and New Orleans are likely to experience catastrophe by mid-century, if not sooner. Miami can’t rely on dikes or sea walls because it sits on “porous limestone” which allows seawater to seep up from underground. The expensive pumps installed in some areas to push out water tend to mix sewage with the drinking water supply. The city derives much of its power from a nuclear station unwisely placed on a coastal “barrier island” that experiences constant flooding and frequent hurricanes. Some reports say the plant contaminates Miami’s waters with radioactive waste. Seas rise in leaps and starts. In prehistoric times – the last era when global CO2 levels were at today’s high – sea levels were about 75 feet higher. Miami will collapse sooner than official projections suggest, but no one says so for fear of harming its real estate market. Florida Governor Rick Scott denies human involvement in climate change and vastly reduced funding to address it. He doesn’t let government officials mention it. Miami’s development continues: Condos go up; people move in. Wealthy people may reasonably expect to enjoy their ocean-view condos for another decade or so, but no one should expect to pass them on to the next generation.

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