By Paul Brandon
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London Futures

This article is over 11 years, 1 months old
Museum of London, until March 2011
Issue 353

Buckingham Palace: By Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

The images at the London Futures exhibition in the Museum of London are quite extraordinary for any citizen to contemplate, but they will resonate especially strongly with Londoners. The exhibition is designed to bring home “the full impact of global warming, food scarcity, rising sea levels and how all Londoners will need to innovate and adapt to survive”.

Images include “Parliament Square put to work as a rice paddy, ice skating down the Thames, Buckingham Palace surrounded by a sea of shanty housing and the Gherkin occupied by thousands of eco-refugees”.

Of the images on display I was prompted time and again to think about prevention rather than cure, and the solutions if such a change was to take place.

All the images carry a short written story which adds to the conscience-pricking exercise. Yet it was the two very human images of shanty towns around Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square that prompted the greatest thought. To see a squatter settlement spread out across central London and into Hyde Park was arresting.

The explanation of the image of Trafalgar Square reads, “Nelson looks down on a shanty town of climate refugees. As the equatorial belt becomes uninhabitable, so people are driven north in search of food and security. People settle wherever they can and many reach London.” The story of the Buckingham Palace image states, “Everybody is on the move and the flooded city centre is now uninhabitable and empty – apart from the thousands of shanty-dwellers. But should empty buildings and land be opened up to climate refugees?” The opening up of empty buildings and land gives a clue as to how to deal with such a crisis, but also its prevention. The banking crisis revealed how casino economics preys on people and property by the exploitation of its value through mortgage and loan debt. We are slaves to such a system and when land and property are concentrated in the hands of a few such a crisis – as demonstrated in the London Futures exhibition – is exacerbated. We need to radically change how our common wealth in land and money is distributed to prevent such human catastrophe, and now!

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