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Life-support: The political ecology of urban air

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Graham



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Humans, increasingly, manufacturer their own air. In and around the three-dimensional aerial environments within and above urban regions, this manufacture of air reaches particular levels of intensity. For a species which expires without air in two or three minutes, this anthropogenic manufacture of air is of incalculable importance. Curiously, however, urban air remains remarkably neglected within the political-ecological literatures. Accordingly, this paper suggests a range of key themes which a political ecology of urban air needs to address. These address, in turn, the links between global warming, urban heart-island effects and killer urban heat-waves; urban pollution crises; the paradoxes of urban pollution; horizontal movements of polluted air; the vertical politics of urban air; the construction of vertical condominiums structures for elites; the vicious circles that characterised air-conditioned urbanism; heat-related deaths of workers building air-conditioned structures in increasingly hot climates; and, finally, the growth of large-scale air-conditioned environments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action

Year: 2015

Volume: 19

Issue: 2-3

Pages: 192-215

Online publication date: 01/04/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 30/09/2014

ISSN (print): 1360-4813

ISSN (electronic): 1470-3629

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2015.1014710


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