African American woman gestures while speaking

Climate Expert Puts the Blame on Consumer Culture in Regents’ Lecture 

Efforts to move to green technology and sustainable policies don’t stand a chance against climate change as long as one key element continues to be ignored: “We are overproducing and we are overconsuming,” said author and climate justice expert Denise Fairchild during a Feb. 2 Regents’ Lecture. “Look at the shirt that you have on,” Fairchild told the audience of about 50 faculty, staff, students and other interested parties who had gathered in the Grand Salon of UCLA’s Kerckhoff Hall. “Now think about measuring all the emissions that went into producing those things from the point of extraction. … Think of all the work that took place someplace else, and then how it was shipped to where you live,” said Fairchild, who earned her doctorate in urban planning from UCLA in 1987. “What are the emissions along that supply chain?” In her presentation, the president emeritus of the nonprofit Emerald Cities Collaborative talked about her Climate Breakthrough project, for which she received a $3 million award aimed at advancing transformative solutions to the climate crisis. In her view, it won’t be possible to solve the climate crisis without changing our culture. “We are a culture of individuals. … We don’t have a collective spirit, a spirit of communitarianism. And as a result, our ability to adapt to climate change is going to be compromised,” she said. “We have to figure out how we redesign our lifestyles to create new measures of joy and well-being. How do we reduce carbon? By changing our consumption patterns.”

Read a transcript of the lecture, listen to the audio recording or view photos on Flickr.

Regents' Lecture by Denise Fairchild


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