Thursday, August 09, 2012

Flood Plains: Redesigning The Earth's Cities

One way the dramatic changes we see happening on the Earth will affect the mind of humans living on this Planet is how we adapt to what is happening around us. Not only now - but way ahead in the future - as people realise the unsustainable cost of non-ergonomic building patterns.

No one really took Nature into account in the last hundred years of rapid building, where every square inch of land is used to expand Real Estate value, sales and increase that value exponentially (over time). The first realisation is that human beings cannot sustain these levels of growth. The next realisation is that we first need BALANCE, where "growth" becomes natural outcome of that balance.

In my opinion, over the last few hundred years Nature entered a mild period that allowed man to build relentlessly (against the laws of Nature) with no real challenge from extreme weather .. unlike what we are seeing today. It was short-sighted of the "urban planners" or it was just pure greed .. let the future take care of their mistakes.

In August, 2012 half the City of Manila was submerged by floods during torrential rains. Manila is built on and around large natural Flood Plains. Natural water channels were blocked, built over and altered to accommodate each layer of human development. Since 1991 the severity and destructiveness of the storms have increased dramatically. This is what happens on Earth.

It is my theory that severe weather is the norm on this Planet and that the gentle cycles are rare. I have one reason for this and that is my observation of Nature. We live on a "water Planet" .. a Planet of water .. and to maintain the complex bio-diversity of all life forms water surges are a key part of the Earth's success in sustaining so many varieties of creatures, plants and aquatic life.

Our collective experience over the last two hundred years is of a rare and gentle Earth cycle that has apparently robbed us of the radical truth about the Planet we inhabit. I feel that the rapid population growth over the last two hundred years from one billion to seven billion people was also partly due to the Earth's rare and quiet climate cycle.

There has been a kind of non-intelligent desperation in the building of ever larger cities, with the largest cities built in potentially severe weather zones. By this, I mean, natural flood plains, areas vulnerable to storm surge, areas vulnerable to changes in sea levels (sitting on land below sea level).

The challenges facing human beings will be the largest populated areas being most vulnerable to the growing extreme weather cycles. I don't think that the extreme weather is a matter of a few short years .. but that it will alternate over the next thousand years completely altering life on Earth.

Redesigning The Earth's Cities
The real challenge facing us is the challenge of our minds. Not how we deal with the ongoing floods and increasing drought .. year after year .. but how our minds change to meet this vast challenge. How does the human mind adapt to deal with this reality?

I think if we just muddle along, making the same mistakes, not paying attention to the intelligence of the Earth .. then that is not going to work for us. Then, we invite the disaster over and over again. One could say: Our non-intelligent cities are the disaster.

I think the one key value that is going to change us is: CARING

You have to care to change something. You have to care to correct something that is wrong. You have to care to help those around you. This includes caring for the environment as well as caring for the lives of human beings. The two go together.

It will probably take a thousand years to fully re-design towns and cities to allow the natural force of Nature to flow in the right way and re-establish the balance that was lost over the last two hundred years. I am talking about waterways, dams, rivers, coastal plains, creating more space, creating more green areas between human habitations.

Cities will function better when re-designed into communal areas, rather than continued urban sprawl. But the most revolutionary change in the human mind will be taking Nature into account as the primary force and human beings as the secondary force.

Nature gives us everything we need .. it is humans who depend on Nature and not the other way round. When we build against Nature's laws we harm ourselves and we create suffering for future generations as well as causing severe stress to the natural environment. We are currently stressing the environment we rely on for our existence and well-being.

Vulnerability and Flooding In Metro Manila

The real challenge facing human inhabitants of Earth is themselves... The real change that lies ahead is within the human mind. Where the primary concern is to re-align our needs with the natural world on which we depend for our existence. That re-alignment begins within the mind.

Re-designing cities to match their natural environment is going to require a high level of intelligence - or intelligent use of the human mind - realising it is better to co-operate and change than to continue as we are now.

As a Planetary Race, we are going to have to think differently, become aware of the world around us and learn to share with Nature rather than just take what we can get. How humans use their mind is key to the value of life that lies ahead for anyone on this Planet.