Note — Aug 22, 2021

Care at Scale

The infrastructure whisperer, Deb Chachra, with another excellent piece. She starts with water flowing down aqueducts, then how we use “exogenous energy every day to exceed the limits of what our bodies can do,” to lighting, cooking food, how homes are nodes to collective infrastructure, cyborgs, feudalism, and made up borders.

We build our lives over these infrastructures, our possibilities extended by their existence, but access is usually restricted by national borders, and some of us are favoured over others by the luck of where we are born. The externalities of these constructions however, this access to energy and light, flow beyond borders. Flooded First Nations lands in Québec power lights in Boston, for example. But as Chachra writes, while “carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is allowed to go everywhere. People are not.” She never mentions it but here you have an excellent exposé of why Green New Deals are important, it is impossible to separate infrastructures, the climate crisis, and social justice.

It’s also a beautiful example that wherever you start your reflection from, if you go up enough abstraction layers / systems / implications / externalities / impacts, you necessarily also move towards a more holistic view and realize, again, that everything and everyone is connected.

Universal provision of water, sewage, electricity, access to transportation networks that allow for personal mobility, and broadband internet access creates a society where everyone—rich or poor, regardless of what you look like or believe—has access to at least a baseline level of agency and opportunity. […]

[A]nthropogenic climate change is teaching us that there are no others, no elsewhere. […]

To face anthropogenic climate change is to become a civilization that can respond to this shifting, unpredictable new world while maintaining these systems: if you benefit from them today, then any future in which they are compromised is recognizably a dystopia. […]

[T]he true promise of renewable energy is not that it doesn’t contribute to climate change. It’s that renewable energy is ubiquitous and abundant. […]

We need to have a conception of infrastructural citizenship that includes a responsibility to look after each other, in perpetuity. And with that, we can begin to transform our technological systems into systems of compassion, care, and resource-sharing at all scales, from the individual level, through the level of cities and nations, all the way up to the global.