Sustainable Cities

Culture, Enviroment, Sustainable Cities

Game of Thrones and Climate Change: Brace yourselves, Summer is Coming!


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By Cassia Moraes

[8 min read]

Imagine a world where different political clans fight for increasing their power while ignoring a threat never seen before – and which can annihilate their societies without much consideration for man-made boundaries. The narrative above could be an introduction for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, to be released soon, in which the fate of Westeros will be sealed as the army of the dead finally make its way through “The Wall”. It could also be an accurate description of the current state of world politics, where names such as Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro wage a war against multilateralism at the moment which we needed it the most. Political distractions as billionaire walls and celebration of past dictatorships occupy their agenda while the real – and potentially irreversible – threats posed by climate change are already in our backyards.

While in HBO’s show the Great Houses fail in addressing the major danger Westeros has ever faced, in real life the scenario is not much different. Those who have historically been the main contributors to climate change do not take the proper actions to offset their actions. In turn, emerging countries like Brazil and China, today’s major emitter of greenhouse gas, use the poor response from developed countries as an excuse to postpone their own actions. Although the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities reinforces emerging countries’ position, they will also be losers if we fail to tackle climate change as a global community. Perhaps the metaphor of white walkers makes it easier to understand why the prisoner’s dilemma strategy of maximizing individual benefits is an illusion. If Westeros lose the war against the white walkers there will be no throne for Cersei or anyone to sit in.

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National Politics, Society, Sustainable Cities

Public safety in NYC and Rio de Janeiro: parallel or poles apart?


By Caroline Tauk

[7 min read]

New York City is the largest and safest US metropolis[1]. Per capita crime rates have been dropping since the mid-1990s. In 2017, the city recorded its lowest number of homicides since 1950: under 300 murders in a year[2]. As a carioca, it’s difficult to avoid comparing these statistics with Rio de Janeiro, a city notorious for its high criminality rate. In 2016, the city of Rio had 1,909 violent deaths resulting from homicides, robberies and bodily injury followed by death. At the end of 2017, the entire state of Rio saw a record-setting 6,731 violent deaths[3]. It seems that, in terms of public safety, the two cities are polar opposites: a crime rate at record lows on one hand and an alarmingly and increasing high crime rate in the other. The experience exchange between Brazil and the United States in this area is old[4]. However, recent public safety data available at the police departments from the two cities shows that the debate remains as relevant as ever.

It is clear that Rio’s and Brazil’s context is peculiar. Despite a positive economic growth, on average, in the last decade[5], wealth and opportunity inequality is still considerable[6]: in 2017, the richest 10% of the population concentrated 55% of the national income. Add to that political instability and low priority of criminal justice reform. Drug use by Brazilians is growing and much of Brazil’s violence and criminality are linked to organized crime. Further, a disproportionate number of young black men are arrested and prosecuted for diverse crimes: while 53% of the Brazilian population over 15 years declare themselves black, 64% of prisoners are black. Of every 100 homicides in Brazil, 71 are within the black population[7]. Although socio-political factors are somewhat different, is it possible to learn from the American experience?

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Sustainable Cities

Five Ways São Paulo Can Improve Urban Mobility (without Building More Bike Lanes)


by Anthony Scott

São Paulo is undergoing a transportation revolution that some have begun to call the “São Paulo Spring”.[i] Since taking office in 2013, Mayor Fernando Haddad has applied what he calls “Shock Therapy” to get residents of the largest City in South America out of their cars. Identifying cars as the problem, Mr. Haddad has done everything from reducing the speed limit on highways, to taking lanes away from cars for exclusive use by buses; but no measure has been as controversial as the installation of bike lanes.

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