Designing the Half-Earth – Troy Vettese and Filip Mesko

The question of LAND. What do climate emergencies, Covid-19 & racism have in common? The crises we are living through are interconnected, the prevalent political/economic models and dominant western mentalities have been shaping the planet and the relations between humans and nature for hundreds of years. They are at the root of the worlds crises and have fuelled a model of planetary urbanisation of relentless transformation based on the extraction, depletion and plunder of LAND and the humans and non-humans that inhabit them. From slavery plantations that fuelled the industrial revolution at the root of racism, to deforestation by industrial agribusiness that exacerbates zoonosis, the virus transfer from animals to humans due to habitat loss, the question of LAND and its exploitation is core to the origins of current crises and the spatial/material transformations of the planet. This lecture series will bring some of the voices within and outside the design profession that can help us shed light on these crises, their interconnection, injustices and how the question of land is woven through all them.

What kind of political, economic, and social changes are necessary to create a truly environmentally stable society? In this lecture, Vettese will discuss the trade-offs between various environmental policies and emphasise how everything from biodiversity conservation to renewable energy infrastructure is linked to the problem of land scarcity. There is simply not enough land to achieve these environmental goals and maintain high levels of consumption. Vettese will then outline how central planning can efficiently co-ordinate production within strictly defined limits, such as the amount of land dedicated to food or energy production. Such an economic system is called ‘Half-Earth Socialism’. To conclude, Vettese will sketch what daily life might be like in such a society.
Troy Vettese is an environmental historian and a William Lyon Mackenzie King post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University. He is currently writing a book with Drew Pendergrass titled Half-Earth Socialism (Verso 2022).

Filip Mesko is an architect in Stockholm. He is currently working on the gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country.

Drew Pendergrass is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering at Harvard University. His environmental writing has been published in Harper’s, The Guardian, and Jacobin, and is currently working with Troy Vettese on Half-Earth Socialism (Verso 2022).


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