Landscape changes often provoke controversy, and yet may produce outcomes which become accepted and valued after a period of time. This essay proposes that society’s increasingly earnest pursuit of sustainable development will involve landscape changes that attract protest and opposition, and which may prove a barrier to the rapid adjustments necessary to substantially reduce our carbon footprint. It considers this possibility by exploring two aspects. First, it considers the role of ‘drivers’ of change, and suggests that significant loss of traditional landscapes is inevitable, as the drivers that produced them are often becoming obsolete. Energy is likely to be a major driver of new landscapes as society seeks ways of weaning itself off fossil carbon fuels. The effects of this shift will be far-reaching, not only arising from energy production technologies, but also from the ripple effects of the energy ‘life cycle’. Second, reference is made to the notion of the ‘acquired aesthetic’, which might suggest the capacity to develop a taste for emerging landscapes if we endorse their underlying story. The essay therefore raises the possibility that, by emphasising the underlying narrative of ingenuity in rising to the challenge of sustainable development, we can learn to see beauty and attractiveness in emerging landscapes of carbon neutrality
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