Daniel Aldana Cohen

Daniel Aldana Cohen
University of Pennsylvania | UP · Department of Sociology

PhD

About

38
Publications
5,794
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Introduction
I’m an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2018-19, I'm a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. I work at the intersection of the social science of climate change, critical urban studies, political sociology, and critical social theory. My research to date has focused on New York and São Paulo.
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (38)
Chapter
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If every actor is an ecological actor, and if the planet’s ecological future hangs in part on cutting carbon emissions by making cities denser through changes to housing, transit, and land use, then it follows that housing, labor, and right-tothe-city movements battling over these issues are decisive ecological actors. In São Paulo, as elsewhere, t...
Article
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Specters of rationing haunt metro São Paulo. Water supplies have plunged to historic, dangerous lows. The idea of rationing has become a flash-point. The state’s center-right governor has insisted that rationing be avoided at all costs and the state’s profit-driven water utility has followed suit, even as dwindling water supplies are being opaquely...
Article
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Social equity and global impacts are missing from measures of cities' environmental friendliness, write David Wachsmuth, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Hillary Angelo.
Chapter
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Climate change is an uneasy topic. Good news is welcome. For those lucky enough to live well in Manhattan, it's comforting to imagine that at least as far as carbon is concerned, the borough's density is right and good. Sure, the streets of midtown are clogged with cars. But walking, subways, and tall buildings with their cozy apartments and office...
Article
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Progressives’ and environmentalists’ challenge is to create, in the coming decade, the political conditions under which a broad majority of Americans would support truly aggressive low-carbon policies. Climate advocates need to tie the concepts of climate politics, economic fairness, and overall well-being so tightly together that no one can tell t...
Technical Report
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A rapid response analysis of the proposed Inflation Reduction Act (2022) by Climate and Community Project staff and members
Article
Quantitative sociologists and social policymakers are increasingly interested in local context. Some city-specific studies have developed new primary data collection efforts to analyze inequality at the neighborhood level, but methods from spatial microsimulation have yet to be broadly used in sociology to take better advantage of existing public d...
Article
How did New York City’s climate politics change after Hurricane Sandy, and why? Prevailing accounts of extreme weather’s impact on climate politics draw on survey data and characterize climate policy in vague terms. However, weather does not do the work of politics; the specifics of climate policy matter. I develop a relational sociological approac...
Article
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Nothing will shape urban life in this century more than carbon—efforts to abolish it, and the consequences of its pollution. Critical urban studies must put the climate emergency at the very core of the discipline. This paper suggests four methodological injunctions to this end: (1) a field-wide development of carbon literacy along the lines of how...
Article
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Typically, we measure emissions that occur within a geographic boundary. But consumption-based accounting tells a different story: that affluent communities depend heavily on polluting activity that occurs elsewhere. https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/policy-digests/follow-carbon
Article
As local governments and corporations promote ‘climate friendliness’, and a low‐carbon lifestyle becomes increasingly desirable, more middle‐ and upper‐income urban residents are choosing to live near public transit, on bike‐ and pedestrian‐friendly streets, and in higher‐density mixed‐use areas. This rejection of classical forms of suburbanization...
Article
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Democratic ecologies take years to construct. But an eco-apartheid regime is already forming, greening affluence for the few at the expense of the many, barbing the fences between the privileged and racialized others with state-sponsored violence (cf Akom 2011; Checker 2008; Ranganathan 2016). Eco-apartheid doesn’t result from elites’ cruel intenti...
Article
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Under eco-apartheid, longstanding environmental harms and the burdens of the no-carbon transition would be yoked to the necks of poor and racialized workers, while the spoils go to the rich—and especially, in Europe and the Americas, the white. Climate breakdown is certain to unleash unending racialized violence. But climate stabilization could als...
Research
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How can we avoid doom, decarbonizing energy and cutting its use in the rich world in an egalitarian and exciting way? The new green capitalism doesn’t ask this question, preferring to protect profits while decarbonizing an economy built on vicious inequalities. But as disillusion with neoliberalism spreads and the threat of climate change grows, th...
Article
So yes, the future of New York 2140 is a bit vanilla as fantasies go. Still, a dash of vanilla can be refreshing. We need to hold on to work on violence and destruction. But we also need access to scientifically and socially plausible stories about our cli- mate future that aren’t Al Gore-cheesy or unrelentingly grim. We’ll be fighting to prevent r...
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Andreas Malm's wonderful book, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming, is about power. Since I'm a scholar who researches urban climate politics, I'm especially excited that Malm's analysis of power is so centered on urban politics. I'll explain what I mean by that, then suggest some interesting lessons from Malm's...
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In the fall of 2014, Rebuild by Design, an initiative of President Barack Obama's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, convened an international working group of experts to advance a global conversation on resiliency, design, and politics. As part of that process, the researcher Daniel Aldana Cohen interviewed several members of the working group...
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About half the planet's carbon dioxide emissions originate in urban areas: the cities and suburbs where a growing majority of humanity lives. To survive this century, we'll have to live together in new ways. Few issues are as fundamental to climate politics as this one. And few are as visceral: the urban is rapidly becoming one of the chief terrain...
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What's more important to our planet's future than little children? Global warning is about them, we're told, and it's on their behalf that we have to do better. Climate scientist James Hansen titled his memoir and climate science primer Storms of My Grandchildren. Naomi Klein's fertility struggles frame the closing act of her epic This Changes Ever...
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Central park was once the greenest piece of Manhattan. Now environmentalists and politicians trumpet the city's towers and subway tunnels, emblems of energy-efficient density, as the island's greatest assets. With global warming threatening to kill millions a year, and inter-state negotiations stalled, pro-density planning is an increasingly vogue...
Article
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According to New Yorkers, two different Hurricane Sandys hit their city in 2012. The first was a one-time indiscriminate exceptional catastrophe. The second was an extraordinary acceleration of inequalities affecting the poorest New Yorkers. Daniel A. Cohen and Max Liboiron promote the second perspective as a systemic approach susceptible of helpin...
Conference Paper
How can we understand where contemporary urban politics are going in a warming world in order to find the best path forward? More specifically, why are cities struggling to slash carbon emissions despite widespread consensus that there are ample co-benefits to be had in doing so (Bulkeley 2011)? Increasing, social scientists interested in how think...
Conference Paper
Climate thinkers from across the political spectrum have long argued that cities are uniquely suited to tackling climate change. But now, scholars are pausing to consider what Harriet Bulkeley calls a gap between rhetoric and reality in cities’ low-carbon policy. I offer a new explanation for this gap by focusing on the way that polarizing labor ma...
Article
Full-text available
Responses to Hurricane Sandy consistently cluster into two types according to how the issues have been defined and understood. On one hand, the crisis was seen as an extreme weather event that created physical and economic damage, and temporarily moved New York City away from its status quo. On the other hand, Hurricane Sandy exacerbated crises whi...
Article
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"This is the Beginning of the Beginning" flashed in white light on Manhattan's Verizon Building. The message seemed to jump out of nowhere and Occupy Wall Street marchers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge broke into ecstatic chants. This was the Illuminator's debut, just two days after New York police had brutally evicted Occupiers from Zuccotti Park. H...
Conference Paper
This paper will explore the missing question of democracy in urban climate politics on the basis of fresh theorizing and preliminary data. Although studies of neoliberal austerity are often concerned with the fate of democracy, in studies of national and sub-national climate politics and governance, questions of political and economic democracy a...
Conference Paper
This paper is based upon an ongoing investigation, through participant observation, of sources of creativity mobilized by the occupiers of Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park. My paper will draw on near-daily visits, observations, and conversations, including those of my research partner, Michael-Gould Wartofsky. We observe three modes of practice (among o...

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