Climate Change & the Future of Work
How is climate change
shaping the future of work?
Climate change is already altering the material bases for economic production, affecting the ecological contexts and the natural resources on which production depends. This project looks at how these pressures are restructuring work and labor politics. These trends are still emergent, but they are intensifying quickly, and are likely to have ramifications for work and employment that are far more consequential than the concerns with job displacement and replacement.
To explore these questions, this project, designed in collaboration with Nichola Lowe (UNC-Chapel Hill) dives into the material and looks at concrete to explore the labor politics of climate change. Concrete is second only to water as the most widely used resource on the planet. In its current form, it is also one of the most destructive, with a massive carbon footprint, contributing ten percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. And yet, concrete has the potential to be a major technology for climate change mitigation and adaption. New low-to-negative carbon concrete mixes can turn concrete into an important carbon sequestration strategy, turning buildings into the functional equivalent of forests. We analyze the labor politics involved in the shift to low-carbon concrete at three concentric layers –expertise, power, and solidarities –to show the impact of climate change on the future of work and workers.