Habitable Air

New Study Sheds Light on Eco-Anxiety and Climate Urgency in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa – A new study by Kerry Ryan Chance, published in Transition Issue 133 by Indiana University Press, explores the impact of urban fires on the city of Cape Town and the role of eco-anxiety in shaping climate policies.

The study argues that fear of fire, or “eco-anxiety,” is often used to accumulate political and economic power but does not necessarily make communities more secure. It highlights the need to consider the experiences and perspectives of vulnerable populations, such as shack-dwellers, in discussions about climate change and energy transition.

The article discusses the intersections of climate urgency, ethics of scarce resources, and social anxieties in the context of two fires in South Africa. The first fire, a shack fire, is seen as an open and deferred issue with a vague response from state, citizen, and corporate agents. The second fire, a wildfire, is seen as a closed and immediate issue with a heightened sense of urgency and affect, often driven by eco-anxiety among the wealthy.

The conclusion of the study highlights the need for a reconsideration of the relationship between climate change and social inequality. The discourse around “climate urgency” often obscures the connection between “wildfire” and “shack fires” and their underlying social dynamics. The author suggests that a better understanding of the relationship between climate change, fires, and inequality requires a look into the archive of local knowledge, traditions, and written history.

This article is a must-read for anyone interested in the impact of climate change on urban areas and the role of eco-anxiety in shaping climate policies. Get your copy of Transition Issue 133.