This is the first post – defining the thought process that has led us towards this drive. A journey leading to a state where people can progress, sustain and cherish without compromising our environment, heritage and social equity. This post speaks about the all-purpose current status and will start delving into the domain of architecture and design slowly but surely.
Mahatma Gandhi had once said, ‘there is enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.’ However, today there is an affluence. This present affluence is reflecting the greed of human race. The inverted ‘U’ relationship which is currently existing between development and level of stress clearly reflects the outcome of overriding the optimum requirements. We haven’t been able to define our limits and dependency on sources. Thus the present economic growth is unsustainable. This model is leading to unprecedented and unexpected social, political, environmental and economic disparity. On one hand there is 1% population with more than 90% of the resources and on other there is a population more than 75% which still doesn’t has proper access to basic physical necessities (Woff, 2012).
With this growing economic disparity, world is in parallel dealing with never ever experienced environmental catastrophes. A casualty of 48000 in Japan, 45000 in India, 17000 in New Zealand, 15000 in United States, 10000 in Philippines, 6000 in Netherlands, 2500 in Australia, 1000 in Pakistan, 1500 in China, 800 in Mexico, 1200 in Brazil and many more all due to Natural Disasters within last 36 months. Enormous social instabilities in Middle East, North Africa, Middle Asia, South America within last 24 months, all these can’t be a mere coincidence to choose this particular time interval for the same. These are all outcome of a state of resource-less-ness which has been catalyzed by unacceptable actions of our race leading to Climate change. These are leading towards a cataclysm we are inept to deal with. Owing to the current model of economic development need and dependence of energy is never like before and the process undertaken to produce this energy is producing greenhouse gases in an amount which has augmented an unprecedented growth in greenhouse effect.
It has been talked about that Affluence is actually not widespread but box by box getting concentrated in the hands of few. (Rosling, 2012) Prof. William Domhoff (University of California) in his article Wealth, Income and Power has very clearly mentioned that a majority of wealth is concentrated in 0.1% of the global population (Domhoff, 2013). Considering the developed nation of world, United States of America which is often being seen as model for development by other developing and under-developed countries, the facts are pretty disturbing. As per his research 20% of the people own a remarkable 89% of wealth leaving only 11% for the bottom 80% i.e. while leaving the assets owned and the unemployed population. These figures have been carefully drawn from the work of economist Edward N. Woff at New York University (2012). A remarkable study ( (Domhoff, 2013) Norton and Ariety, 2010) has revealed that most of the Americans haven’t yet realized the actual wealth distribution model (Oxfam Media Briefing, 2013). Mr. Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International has said, ‘We can no longer pretend that creation of wealth for (Domhoff, 2013) a few will inevitable benefits the many, too often the reverse is true.’ The disastrous concept need to be checked and curbed at the earliest as concepts like these, and ‘Trickle-down effect’ have become the backbone for the upcoming developing countries like Brazil, India, South Africa and many. This economic model is nowhere near to sustainable and should be altered to go sustainable. (Gilding, 2013)
The core foundation of this model of economic development is energy and it could be definitely said that the current energy demands are singularly met by Fossils -> Oil and Coal. These resources are concentrated in the hands of few which leads to sustainable model of wealth concentration; not only it is leading to monstrous economic disparity but also leading to disastrous environmental impact. With the wealth and Oil in hands, Arab sheikhs have dared to change the taxonomy of land. This change in land-forms has potential to destroy the Middle Eastern area in entirety, removing the trace of civilization. This would be quite an irony as the trace of civilization was first identified in this region itself be it Catalhoyuk or the lands of Ur and Uruk. The air-conditioned towers are releasing a mammoth amount of greenhouse gases, which has increased the local temperature by a few degrees and it has practically now become impossible to walk down the streets in noon. An interesting observation is that the handful of people with which the wealth is concentrated have led to maximum increase in release of greenhouse gases and other untenable processes which in turn has increased their value more, leading to more intense wealth concentration, disparity and disasters.
The world is presently experiencing a significant change in Rainfall patterns and an overall increase in average temperature. (Williams, Bolitho, & Fox, 2003) It has been expected as per the study of Walsh and Ryan (2000) (Williams, Bolitho, & Fox, 2003) that rainfall will be more variable from month to month with longer dry spells and possibly with an increased frequency of disturbance events such as flooding rain and cyclones (Easterling, 2000) (Williams, Bolitho, & Fox, 2003). Additionally, a rise in average basal altitude of the orographic cloud layer is expected (Palmer and Raimer, 2000). This climate change has already impacted a majority of ecosystems. Listing a small compilation of the news events of recent natural disasters all within a span of seven days
- Tacloban Typhoon, Yolanda, death toll could reach 10000
- Unexpected heavy snowfall obstructs daily activities in Humla, Nepal
- Tornado in Piket, Philippines kills an entire family
- Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung’s unpredicted volcano eruptions prompts emergency, displacing 1300
- 5 magnitude earthquake jolts Assam, India
- A sudden landslide in Papua New Guinea kills 9
- New Bohot sinkhole creates panic, residents to evacuate the area
This sudden proliferation in natural disasters could be felt, and this is no coincidence that there has been a large increase in release of polluting gases. To add to it was this year that the largest mud volcano ‘Akhtarma – Pasholi’ in Azerbaijan was erupted. (Natural Disasters, 2013)
This calls for an immediate self-audit and recognition. It’s time to apprehend what we had been doing. We need to check our energy demands. There is a very strong line between ‘need’ and ‘greed’ and it needs to be identified and established. Moreover, sustainable measures need to be identified to satisfy the ‘needs’. It’s time to aggressively go about the same. A sudden shift to non-polluting, sustainable measures might be bit expensive but when compared with the cost of losing an entire civilization, it comes to be quite inexpensive. With an expected population of 9 billion dwelling on the same planet, which is struggling to support 5 billion, definitely calls for a change in lifestyle. We need to increase our dependence levels on renewable non-polluting sources such as wind, sun, geothermal etc. At the present rate of resource depletion, we are in fact eating away the resources of our future generations. This could lead to a massive global resource crisis, in the world which is already suffering from climate change, environmental catastrophes and energy crisis. Is this the kind of world, we want to leave for our future generation?
The answer to all our problems lies in the question itself put forth, ‘What kind of a world do we want to see our grand-children living in?’ It’d be a place resourceful. Hence, we need to identify our non-deplete able resource and build upon them, i.e. start establishing our renewable energy dependence directly. Our scientists have already explored and established a few renewable sources of energy, stress should be laid on putting forth them commercially. Research into such methods should be promoted and it should be encouraged to enhance and utilize this energy. There should be an aim, a mission statement to be totally dependent on non-polluting sources of energy by the next decade, very aggressively and it is not an over ambitious target.
Two decades ago, solar farms were considered as a concept which couldn’t be realized. Their efficiency was exceedingly low and cost startlingly high. But today, a time has come where they can healthily compete with the conventional sources and very soon will replace them by becoming more productive and cheap. However this needs to be acted upon immediately. It should be generously promoted to the extent of enforcing upon. With a vision and mission this noble aim could be factually realized. More and more industries should explore the potential of wind farms and geothermal energy. The concept of earth tunnels should be explored aggressively, which has the potential to revolutionize the air-conditioning industry and which can reduce our energy demands dramatically, leading to a more fair society. Architects should make it their objective to design using passive strategies no reliance on external sources of energy.
This new affluence will be global in its true sense. This affluence will not be promoting a stress curve but would be an affluence in its true sense, where there is a rise in Human Happiness index, green index, and sustainability factor. A world where there would be community resource centers, livelihood, technological interventions to bridge the gap between people and protected areas, conservation, environment protection and bio-diversity enrichment.
There are resources, technology and intent available where we can change the world leading towards a catastrophe to a world stimulating global equality, happiness and resourcefulness, a cleaner, greener environment which we would want to share with our grandchildren, a world which we can be proud of. It requires a movement, where we need to identify ourselves with the sustainable processes, measures and become more eco-friendly beings. This era of change can be the finest era, an era of which all the residents will be delighted of.
Applied Environmental Research Foundation. (2013, May 12). Community, Climate change and Conservation. Pune, Maharasthra, India.
Diamonds, P. (Director). (2013). Abundance is our future [Motion Picture].
Domhoff, W. G. (2013). Wealth, Income, and Power. Santa Cruz: University of California.
Gilding, P. (Director). (2013). Earth is full [Motion Picture].
Natural Disasters. (2013, November 10). Natural Disasters in 2013. California, California, United States of America.
Oxfam Media Briefing. (2013, January 18). The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all. OXFAM.
Rosling, H. (Director). (2012). Global Population Growth: Box by Box [Motion Picture].
Williams, S. E., Bolitho, E. E., & Fox, S. (2003). Climate change in Australian tropical rainforests: an impending environmental catastrophe. James Cook University, School of Tropical Biology. Townsville: The Royal Society.