World Architects on Climate Crisis – Part VIII

“The world is trying to save everything else except our Mother Earth!” – Johnny D, Editor-in-Chief – www.zerobeyond.com dated: 10th September 2022

2/3rd of Pakistan has submerged due to catastrophic floods – PAKISTAN

7.8 million Somalians facing starvation due to famine – SOMALIA

Hundreds of poor Indonesian villagers are living in flooded villages – INDONESIA

Millions are combating famine to live another day – TIGRAY

These are not news headlines to be forgotten the very next day, but the harsh grim reality of our modern civilization in the 21st Century! I shudder every time I watch videos of climatic catastrophes or read about the devastation around the world. I wonder all the time – do we really care about what is happening around the world? Have we become so zombie-like to overlook the grim reality of natural calamities until it hit our own home or beloved ones?

As I stated at the very beginning – “The world is trying to save everything else except our Mother Earth!” – as cities are getting drowned one after another and killing thousands in catastrophic proportion, I wonder when will the leaders of the world wake up from their deep slumber to act at war-footing pace to put a check on saving Earth! If not know, then when?

In the year 2022, all the prominent cities of the world have been flooded with a few exceptions. Floods and flash floods have devastated nations from Australia to Canada – Japan to Mexico – European nations to Asian nations – even the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Oman to America’s Arizona and Nevada. While all these catastrophic natural disasters are happening, every single State of the world have kept a deafening silence and doing very-very little for their respective citizens.

The destruction of Mother Earth continues even after such catastrophic devastation all around the villages, provinces, cities and nations. It is really hard to believe that we humans have become so-so blinded by our greed and callous in our thinking process. Nature’s onslaught is going to get much more severe and worst in coming years, while millions will lose their lives and homes. Earth is gradually collapsing in all fronts as the life-saving glaciers are melting at a faster pace than ever, drought and famine are drying up rivers, soaring temperatures are wiping out acres and acres of forests and lands are gradually getting submerged in water.

South African architect Greg Truen rightly reflects, “This is a big issue for South African cities! We have had some disastrous floods recently and some droughts, which have caused water shortages. Built environment planners need to work with engineers and policy makers, it is a complex issue. In cities that are being overwhelmed, a combination of rapid urbanization, poor planning and aging infrastructure are creating huge problems for the future.” – GREG TRUEN – Partner, SAOTA, Cape Town, South Africa

DECONGESTION OF CITIES

The world needs to decongest existing cities to prolong the disastrous effects of climate crisis instead of keep building on every piece of land and cramp it. I know it is easier said than done! However, if leaders of the world, policy makers, urban planners, architects, landscape architects and corporations will unite to safeguard Mother Earth – this phenomenal task can be achieved to make cities of the world more environment-friendly and safe as ‘Cities of the Future’.

Why are cities of the world getting flooded so very often in recent years? – This is the first question that should come up in the minds of policy makers and urban planners! Think logically and the answer is very simple – Congestion of age-old drainage and sewerage networks. I had pointed out how policy makers and urban planners have overlooked this simple point in earlier parts of the series. While we have developed everything else in cities – buildings, malls, structures etc – the drainage and sewerage systems was / were / is never developed. It remains the same in all these decades.

How many times have anyone in the world seen the drainage system getting overhauled and expanded to be effective for the ever-growing population in cities? In my lifetime, I have never seen any cities making even a small effort to revamp or expand the age-old existing drainage system. When a city is built, the population is limited and the dwellings are just a few. With times, the city grows into a dense concrete jungle and the population burst becomes disproportionate to the existing drainage and sewerage system of the city.  

The consequence is simple! The drainage system is not able to carry out effective clearance of water during heavy rains, resulting in flooded streets, shops and homes. As the world was globalized by corporation’s greed, the unprecedented policy makers and urban planners concretized every possible land areas in cities to give ‘the’ label ‘Smart Cities’. I have recently watched the devastating floods in Chicago city, where manhole covers were blasted up in air, nearly 8 to 10 feet high, with drainage water pressure. Drainage and sewerage systems are not cleaned and cleared on a regular basis, so they get choked up.

A small inner street drainage block in Hyderabad / Photo Credit: Swamy

I am certainly not talking about rocket science. This is a simple mechanism to maintain a proper and effective drainage system. By decongesting cities, we will be able to expand the drainage and sewerage system and reduce the existing population count. All the low-lying areas in the cities can be converted into water bodies like canals, lakes or mangroves, so that they can absorb all the water during heavy rains to keep the cities and people safe. Every single city in the world needs to build ‘Rain Water Tunnel’ like Hong Kong to keep it dry and sans flooded streets.

Chinese architect Xiaojun Bu rightly says, “I am an architect, but common sense here in China is that it is a natural behavior of water to flatten out all the land, so the most effective manner is to set the urban dwellings at the correct level based on modern urban design knowledge. The rest is just to have correct sewage system and artificial rivers to lead water away from the cities.” – XIAOJUN BU – Co-Founder, Atelier Alter Architects, Beijing, China

The world has huge volume of required data on flooded cities and ‘Climate Crisis’. One GEN Z architect had revealed during her interview that ‘there is so much data on ‘Climate Crisis’ that it is hard to believe that nothing is being done to save Mother Earth’ due to corporation’s greed’. What will happen to human greed, when the whole world will be consumed by water to make Mother Earth a water ball? Think!!!

Feature Photo: Vipula Bhargava Kumar

To be continued…

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