|World history has always seen the development of small-scale, innovative technologies to larger-scale applications. Why not pursue this same evolution with such bold new schemes as those shown here, that combine food and energy production, increased proximity to nature and access to high and low speed transportation links?|
|by Kim Gyr|
Bang went my head on the dashboard as the drunken taxi collided with our car, just outside of Nairobi, while in the process of emigrating from Switzerland to England for the first time. Bang went my heart as they tried to repair my head in hospital the next morning, stopped cold for 10 minutes, yes 10 minutes according to the hospital's own report. I shouldn't be here at all!
But, here I am and, having successfully and perilously and luckily navigated the road back to normality in 4 years less than the 6 - 8 predicted by the neurologist who saw me at the time, I have come to some conclusions regarding life, human existence, the future and how we might make it sustainable.
We live on a planet whose resources are finite, as some authors and broadcasters fortunately and incessantly tell us. A word was invented to describe what we must do if we want to prevent dropping the generations that follow us into the same difficult and wearing predicaments and lives as those that preceded us - Sustainability!
As I relearned to walk, speak and remember following the experience above, staggering, walking and jogging more than 330 miles on my arrival in England, for example, I also began to write onto the Tabula Rasa that my mind had become. Curiously, I began to imagine a future in which we no longer had fossil fuels - this was back in 1980, and the ideas that came to me then seem to be acquiring more and more suitability and importance now, to the point that I have already taught some of them at the then Swiss campus of California's Art Center College of Design!
There is no way to both survive as a species and prosper other than to concentrate ALL our efforts into transforming EVERYTHING about life into sustainable methods, systems and habits! Otherwise, what is already happening to some of the more unfortunate populations and ecosystems in the developing world, will happen to us all - starvation, loss of arable land and potable water, vastly reduced energy resources, conflict over incessantly dwindling energy supplies and a much poorer Earth!
We must first design a realizable and sustainable future, and then commit everything that we have in terms of technology, cooperation, ingenuity, energy and friendship to it! The sketches throughout this article are meant only as starter, to both alert you to the tragic outcomes of doing nothing and to offer you brain food, a platform for a departure toward a sustainable future for the genes that you have rattling around inside of you.
For, one of the basic conclusions that I came to following my cardiac arrest was that we all contain an eternal component, one that has lasted from the beginning of life on this planet, and possibly the beginning of life in the universe! Yes, we all stop breathing at some point, fortunately for those that follow us! But the components of the genes that have created you are literally eternal! Think of that - they have existed ever since life first appeared on Earth, and perhaps well before that from some extraterrestrial source!
If our genetic components have been eternal, and let's face it they've survived since the beginning of life until now, then we can all do a lot more to support their continued existence! How? By preserving in an absolute way the health and happiness of women and children, who are the bridges to the eternal existence that is expressed by our genes - a simple lesson from the miles that I covered, ruminating, to return to normal!
Equally important, now that we have begun to understand the importance of sustainability to future generations, is to preserve their access to sources of energy and food, healthy environments and a peaceful world. Perhaps we should look at distributed access to all of these things, for once any of them is concentrated into a few hands, tensions and conflict arise between those who control the resources and those who do not, even if their distribution is at or close to 100% fair, which it NEVER is!
Why not use our remaining fossil fuels to begin the construction of the buildings illustrated, themselves capable of generating their own energy? These cities would be built perpendicular to prevailing wind, to best take advantage of them, with links between their generally North - South orientations, to enhance the capture of wind and solar energy. They would also increase proximity to food production and recreational areas, provide cheap high and low speed transportation for the creation of an energy efficient infrastructure, and manageable social structures to provide all inhabitants with access to rewarding lives!
How so? First of all, we must have access to energy in this high-tech age, as a comparison between energy rich cultures and those with little access to affordable energy immediately shows. And, the problem is that those energy sources are dwindling fast, are the subject of competition between powerful nations and simply will not exist in the near future!
A great deal has already been spent on the development of nuclear fission, a dead end that is immensely dangerous to our genes as expressed in future generations, on fusion, on better fossil fuel exploration technologies, and on the development of alternative and renewable power supplies. Does this mean that we should stop looking for new concepts? To ask this question begs disbelief, as alternative power systems are surely no further along than automotive technologies were within the first 20 years of their development. We must absolutely continue to seek and to develop new concepts if we are to hope to supply tomorrow's generations with the cornucopia of power that we currently enjoy and that is vital to their needs!
Linear cities, as detailed above, would be built generally depending on prevailing wind direction, north to south across continents to link individual countries with high-speed and high-performance maglev trains that could be powered by the electricity provided by the cities' ducted wind turbines. These maglev trains could also receive an assist from the high and low air pressures that are generated by the cities, or more conventionally using the electricity generated by the turbines, in evacuated tubes, with views over the surrounding countryside.
This access to open countryside, with individual cottage gardens as well as efficiently managed larger-scale fields, also provides better proximity to food production areas. And, this can serve to encourage more personal participation in food production, with the potential to increase the involvement and creativity of the populations that live in the cities to increase production efficiency, variety and the health aspects of the food produced!
The leisure and recreational aspects of proximity to open countryside should also not be ignored, as are the possibilities to "dress" sections of the city differently to create feelings of smaller-scale communities. Personal car use with its incredible energy consumption at all points could be abandoned in favour of the energy efficient mass transit mentioned above, bicycles, walking and other creative forms of human and animal powered transportation yet to be invented.
Efficient transportation with low ecological and energy consumption impact can also mean that people are both more able to get between their home and work more quickly, to mix their mode of transportation to include more walking and cycling through areas of natural beauty, and to develop healthier lifestyles. It will also contribute to communities, as there is far more contact between people traveling outside of cars than those enclosed within them!
We have become accustomed to cheap travel and holidays, sharing and understanding each other's lives. It would therefore be a tragedy if we were forced to return to cruel and feudal arrangements because we were not able to see beyond the cliff edge of petroleum depletion and energy poverty while we still have petroleum!
World history has always seen the development of small-scale, innovative technologies to larger-scale applications. Why not pursue this same evolution with such bold new schemes as those shown above, that combine food and energy production, increased proximity to nature and access to high and low speed transportation links? The time to start the first experiments with building them is now, before the black hole of energy depletion engulfs and swallows us all!