Thursday, July 14, 2005

I Seed it Coming

A few good articles on the web today, one from the BBC News site talking about the design of future cities. It seems that China will have to house an extra 400 million people in the next 12 years (!!!!), and has decided to use the opportunity to build seven new cities from scratch.

The lucky guy who gets to design these cities is doing so right down to the molecular level, integrating all aspects of human life so that the cities are largely self-sufficient and in tune with the environment. Features like methane cooking gas, generated from sewage, roof-top gardens and more, are all included in the design. According to the BBC article, the cities look like gardens of Eden.

The second article is from the Deconsumption blog (which I have now duly added to the index on the right), and is a superb analysis of the singularity which awaits humanity in the not-too-distant future. The author shows our present condition as analogous with the coming of age of a wayward teenager, and posits that, as in the evolution of a single individual, the challenge will 'separate the wheat from the chaff' - the latter analogy once again invoking the imagery of a great harvest from the Revelation of St John.

I was delighted to read that that author thinks it inadequate to describe the coming evolution of the species merely as a spiritual evolution - the spirit (being a person's motivation and disposition) certainly being a part of it, but some extremely material changes are also going to have to take place. As usual, the whole of the change will be greater than the sum of the individual facets to that change.

Finally, a very interesting analysis of wind power from the Institute of Science in Society. It seems (oddly enough) that the wind blows exactly when we need it: "in winter when the wind blows, the chill factor goes up and so does the need for electricity; in summer just when everyone is returning home for their tea in the early evening that’s when the onshore winds obligingly come into play.”

There seem to be a lot of these 'natural homeostats' - another example might be a wood stove. When the air temperature outside the house drops, it creates a greater pressure differential between the firebox of the stove and the top of the chimney, resulting in a greater draught through the stove, which in turn makes the fire burn hotter - automatically, just when you need it. Another example might be a solar thermal collector, which heats your stored water throughout the day during the winter months, giving a maximum base load for the wood stove to top it up when you light it in the evening.

A good day for reading. Plus my solar hot water system gave me my first warm shower today, after only 4 hours of collecting on a cloudy afternoon after power-on!


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