Posts Tagged building
So then, the Earth is now home to 7 billion people, or to put it another way – 7,000,000,000 people; an awful lot of zeroes don’t you think? Still, this post isn’t really about that; it just happens to coincide rather nicely with what I was going to write anyway, which is the tale of a rather scary drive I went for recently.
So was this scary drive a hair-raising blat in an F1 car? Nope, I should be so lucky. A high-speed burn around roads with vertical drops on either side perhaps? No way. A pillion ride on the back of a motorbike with a one-armed, mentally unstable, blind driver. Definitely not… No, this was the drive from Hong Kong city to the airport.
So why did I find this drive so scary you ask? Well, to begin with it was at night. No, I’m not scared of the dark (much). But the darkness does bring into very stark reality the massive, illuminated high-rise apartments that line this route to the airport. There are literally thousands of homes that stretch across your field of vision, from one periphery to the next, top to bottom and way off into the distance. Each lit window perfectly highlighting the degree to which we are packing ourselves onto this planet and the huge amounts of energy and resources that we are consequently consuming. For someone who lives in the UK and is used quant Victorian terraces, these things are monstrous.
For mile after mile my view was filled with these towering high-rises. They weren’t, however, striking simply because of their height, but additionally because of their mammoth width and depth. These things aren’t just a thin wall of steel concrete and glass – they’re more like a forest, stretching back in numerous layers for as far as the eye can see – literally over the hills and far away. A truly momentous sight to behold.
Without meaning to brag, I’m a pretty well-travelled individual. I’ve been to many of the world’s cities and high-rise building themselves are nothing novel to me. However this wall of windows and balconies really is quite breath taking, due in no small part to the sheer number and density of these buildings.
To see these types of constructions and trying to picture the masses of people that they allow to be crammed into such a small area is staggering. As I mentioned earlier, it really brings home the resource and energy consumption required to feed this relentless expansion of humanity and the pressure we’re placing on our planet.
Keep reading – it’s not all doom and gloom
I did, strangely enough, find myself in two frames of mind on this journey. First, as you know, I was agog at what I was seeing and fearing for the future. Simultaneously though, I caught myself admiring mankind’s ingenuity and far from fearing for the future, rather bizarrely, I actually felt quite optimistic. Surely any animal that can design, build and sustain this kind of… colony… has the capacity to go much, much further.
Ours is a culture that has given birth to War and Peace, The Beatles, Salvidor Dali, IVF, space exploration, and Santa Claus. Surely we must also be able to save ourselves from self-destruction?
Conversely though – and swinging back to the fear for the future once again – ability isn’t the problem is it? It’s not that we are unable to build and power ourselves toward a clean, sustainable future. That’s the easy part. It’s whether or not we have the inclination to; whether or not our Humanity will come and rescue us from our Human affliction.
These high-rises went up not because somebody wanted them, but because they needed them. When is mankind finally going to feel the same about stopping our destruction of Planet Earth – the very thing that allows us to thrive like this? Do we have to witness ever more destructive natural events and wait for something really disastrous to happen before we – universally – feel the same need to tackle it? Will it be too late by then?
Back to the 7 billion…
I’ve always felt that we in the UK are slightly sheltered from this population explosion. Yes we’re overcrowded, yes we have a problem with immigration and yes we all know of someplace where a beautiful piece of green land has been given over to a housing development. However, the population spikes are not happing in our country and it’s very easy to see them as simple statistics.
Seeing this overload of humanity in Hong Kong however, brought into glaring reality the fact that this planet is small, and getting smaller all the time. The growth of humanity is not a bad thing independently; we just have to make sure we put into place all of the necessary mechanisms to keep us alive without completely wrecking the planet and the environment that sustains us – all 7,000,001,111 of us. That’s right, in the few minutes it’s taken you to read this, over 1000 babies have been born.
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