The Way for a Sustainable Future
Today we live in a far more advanced and economically-stable era than our forefathers did decades or a century ago. However, with this rapid growth of human population and the economy as well, we witness an emerging phenomenon that is the megacities. Megacities have been in existence since the 1990s, but it is only at present that the consequences of its emergence are being realized, studied and addressed. In this light, perhaps there are a few important questions that we must answer regarding megacities:
- What are the negative effects of having megacities and how do we address these?
- How do we achieve economic growth and stability without compromising public health and security?
- What are sustainable eco-cities?
- What must be done to achieve sustainable and prosperous eco megacities?
This article will aim to provide insights regarding these eye-opener questions. It also hopes to increase the level of awareness regarding the global situation surrounding megacities, and address future sustainability issues. Lastly, this article and corporatechrist.co.uk hope to advocate and inspire changes that can also be done individually to contribute to our achievement of having sustainable and eco-friendly places in the midst of rapid urbanization and development.
We are Building Huge Cities and this is not Good
Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, New Delhi, Manila… What do all these cities have in common? These cities are among the most populous or densely populated cities in the world, making them ‘megacities’. While hearing the term ‘megacity’ may connote a notion of prosperity and economic stability, note that that is not always the case. Though these negative effects are not obviously visible and some may say that the economic and financial benefits obtained from megacities far outweigh the disadvantages, we must consider the long-term negative effects megacities have in store for the future. Only then can we decide whether to propagate more megacities, and also urgently address the worsening conditions currently observed in the recognized megacities since the 1990s.
What are Megacities?
Megacities are defined by the United Nations as metropolitan aggregations with an overall population of 10 million or more. Aside from the overall population, other markers or features of megacities that are consistent with each other are: having a concentrated population density, as well as being the center of economic growth in their respective countries.
In 1990, there are only 10 such megacities recognized by the United Nations. However, as of 2014, there are a total of 28 major cities in the world qualifying for this term. The population in these cities ballooned up in just a span of almost 25 years, with the megacity of Tokyo topping the list with a population of 38 million people. It is projected that more cities will join the ranks of megacities soon, particularly those in developing areas in Africa and Asia.
Economy and Job Security: Keys to Unlock a Megacity
Most are familiar with the paradox of the chicken and the egg. Which really came first? Was the egg created first and therefore hatched the chicken, or the chicken came first and laid an egg? The same paradox is almost true about megacities. It is a common observation that megacities are the main economic driving forces in their respective countries; thus, one may ponder if the opportunities that spring forth in these countries attracted population migration from other nearby areas, or if these cities harbored a big population to start with, that then attracted industries. Most believe it is the former.
The strategic locations and accessibility, as well as being a capital city of their country or region enable infrastructure and economic growth to flourish first in these areas. People from nearby areas then follow suit, chasing after opportunities and job security. Under a short-sighted generalist thinking, we can only see that creating megacities is economically good. It raises the country’s GDP and the per capita house income as well, but then what about those problems that grow and exacerbate within the core of these megacities? The symptoms are intensifying slowly and over time like a foul and deadly cancer, it will erupt and may become difficult to overcome.
Megacities and the Seeds of Destruction within Itself
A small city expectedly runs with some perpetually persistent problems all the time. But what if we magnify and amplify that small city ten more or a hundred more times? We get the essence of megacities, and both persistent and newly-budding problems that are amplified.
Since the driving factor for the formation of megacities is economic growth, some may think that a direct association between population and overall income is indisputable. However, this can be proven quite false. Due to the limited opportunities people chase in the cities, they are forced to dwell and compete for overcrowded space and limited resources as well; thus, a huge population does not always translate to economic productivity, but ironically it can even become an economic burden. In this case, the very obvious repercussion of megacities would be overpopulation. Consider these examples of the effects of overpopulation in megacities.
As of 2012, Tokyo, Japan is the most heavily populated megacity with 38 million population and a population density of around 4,400 people per square kilometer. Dhaka, Bangladesh, on the other hand, has 16 million people, and a density of a staggering 44,000 per square kilometer. However Japan has a richer GDP and larger land area than Dhaka, but the latter has 10 more times people squeezing into its space. We can expect people living in subpar conditions in the megacity of Dhaka. This situation is not unique to the aforementioned city, but most megacities in developing countries in Asia and Africa see this phenomenon. They have more people than they can feed and house or give jobs in the city, so some of the hopeful migrant population would eventually become vagrants.
It is true that at the forefront of megacities is economic growth and stability, but what lurks beneath the shadow is the undeniable overpopulation translating to a large number of homeless or informal settlers as well. These people who don’t have roofs over their heads or a proper home, or safe access to water, become the root cause of many public health issues that will be discussed more in-depth as individual factors.
The spread of epidemics and prevalence of diseases
Regarding the Public Health concern of transmission of diseases, there are three things that become compromised in a city with overpopulation. First is compromised sanitation. Second is the unsafe or completely no access to water and shelters and third, more chances of direct disease transmissions due to close proximity in dense populations. Given these poor or subpar living conditions, the susceptibility of contracting infectious or communicable diseases is very apparent. We also see the looming potential of incurring epidemics when there is such dense population packed in little space. This scenario, however, mostly works for megacities in the developing countries. For developed megacities such as New York, Tokyo or LA, you can observe a different scenario.
Megacities in developed countries may see better living conditions and fewer numbers of informal settlers, thus disease transmission may not necessarily be a problem. The number one public health concern, however, in developed megacities is the non-communicable disease. Due to the more sedentary lifestyles in these richer areas and fewer opportunities for exercise, the diseases that rank highest are obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancers.
We see a paradox existing in two extremes with megacities. No matter whether the city is rich or poor, there is bound to be public health problems present in it.
Threatened security and increase in crime rates
In megacities located in the developing countries, there is a tug-of-war for the limited resources the city can offer its exponentially expanding population; thus, a survivalist mentality becomes apparent among its desperate population. We see then a rise in the number of crime rates such as theft, rape, drug addiction and murder. In fact, known as one of the ten most dangerous places in the world, is the megacity of Karachi in Pakistan. It is true that there are also confounding factors within that contribute to this plight in Karachi, and not just its status as a megacity. However, we must consider the fact that the desperate situation and limited opportunities increase the problems there.
Compared to their third-world counterparts, developed megacities enjoy more peace but that is not to say they don’t have their share of informal settlers. Though the percentages are not as many, there is still a number of struggling individuals and families on the brink of imminent poverty.
Given the factors of overpopulation and heavy propagation of industries in megacities, pollution is quite common. Land, air and noise pollution are the most notorious in most megacities. On land pollution, we see informal settlers or slum areas turn into heaping shanties of garbage and disarray. In areas with open water sources, water pollution becomes apparent as well. In the case of noise pollution, the noise from urban traffic and urban construction and industries adds to the stress level of people with direct and long-term exposures to it.
However, among all the types of pollution, the most dangerous is air pollution as it can traverse to suburban cities and countryside. Air pollution is measured in terms of ambient air particulate matter or PMs. Basically, PMs are a mixture of solid and liquid chemical droplets and particles that are present in the air. They are small with sizes ranging from 2.5 micrometers to 10 micrometers. PMs are emitted by factories, car exhausts, and even construction sites, which are all incredibly apparent in megacities. PMs are dangerous even with short-term or long-term exposure as these can aggravate or increase chances of acquiring acute and chronic pulmonary and respiratory diseases.
The Urban Heat Island Concept
Megacities, in a defined way, contribute largely to climate change. Megacities have high carbon footprint emissions. In fact, cities like Los Angeles, Shanghai, Beijing, and Paris are among those with the highest carbon emissions in the world. Aside from carbon emissions, particulate matters are also present in the air. Together, these form a blanket of atmospheric insulator over megacities, turning them into Urban Heat Islands (UHI). As its name suggests, urban heat islands are very much like greenhouses that trap heat above the megacity, allowing these cities to have higher ground temperatures than the surrounding suburbs.
One of the main effects of a megacity becoming UHI is susceptibility to stronger hurricanes as the world has witnessed this past decade. Strong hurricanes have attacked across a lot of countries, even those not normally experiencing floods. Aside from this, direct effect on people’s health such as increasing cases of heat stroke, dehydration and death due to higher temperatures can be seen. One such example is the large-scale deaths that occurred in the megacities of Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan on the first half of 2015 due to record-breaking temperature for summer heat waves.
Megacities are the economic foundations of a country and with the increasing urbanization in developing countries, we can really expect that even more major and minor cities will eventually turn into megacities. However, we must be cautious of the negative impacts discussed here and come up with ways how to avoid these and eventually turn megacities into sustainable eco-friendly cities.
Cars are NOT the Future of Transportation
“A developed country is not one where majority drives cars, but where the rich use public transport” – Enrique Peñalosa, Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia
It is quite impossible to imagine a bustling city without the image of cars traversing the roads and highways, or the perpetual traffic jams during rush hours. However, is it really the busy roadways and heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic that are good indicators of economic growth? In truth, more economic loss is generated by the uncontrollable and aggravating traffic conditions across the world, especially in developing countries.
Perhaps the notion that a large vehicular volume in a city or country is an indicator of development, is due to the fact that cars stand like status symbols. Having one’s own car signifies improved salary or per capita income since cars are still considered luxury items that come with a costly price; thus, an increase in car volume is translated as more and more people in the population having a better income to afford such luxury.
Consider an alternative scenario though, a future city without any traffic jams: no more hours spent stressed behind the wheels, no more hours wasted in a car standstill that could have been spent on more worthwhile activities. Imagine an efficient, fast and low-cost transportation, getting you anywhere within the city and even beyond. This projection is what an ideal megacity should be. So why must we be left fancying to endure rush-hour traffic?
Negative side effects of too many cars
Having too many cars produces negative effects. The most apparent would be the impact on health, economy and the environment. As mentioned, cars are major sources of air pollution through the particulate matter (PM) that they belch. The car exhaust fumes are laden with chemicals that are harmful to health and imagine being exposed to this on a daily basis and for long periods of time. One may reason out that being inside a car, driving behind the wheel or resting at the backseat won’t make us susceptible to this. However, particulate matter is so small it can be just 2.5 micrometers or almost 15 times as thin as a dot of hair. It can easily seep through the windows and once we get out of those cars, these particulate matters surround us.
Meteorologists and environmental specialists use particulate matter as major indicators of air cleanliness and air quality. The limit set by the WHO regarding safe levels of PM concentration or volume in the air is 25μg/m3. That is even less than a grain of salt. However, in a study in 2013, it was found that roadside PM from vehicular traffic in the cities increases the atmospheric PM concentrations from a minimum of 5% to a maximum of 80% depending on location and time of day. This excess in the acceptable PM concentration can contribute to major health problems such as acute or chronic respiratory illnesses.
Imagine being exposed to excessive PMs every day spent on traffic and it is almost predictable that respiratory morbidity and mortality shall be on the rise in the years to come if this trend continues.
Aside from apparent health impact stated above, it contributes to the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. As for economic losses, it is projected that an average car wastes 0.33 gallons of fuel per hour of traffic. Imagine being stuck in traffic for three hours. That is one gallon of precious energy converted to particulate matter for nothing. If a person is stuck in traffic at least an hour every day for a year, the annual wasted worth of fuel amounts to almost $8203. Given these disadvantages, what are the options we have for a more efficient and eco-friendly transportation system?
Train system / Hyperloops / Subway
As mentioned in the quoted line, a prosperous country is one where its rich population uses public transportation as the main transportation system, because it is more convenient than being stuck in traffic with their cars. London, Tokyo, Osaka and New York are good examples of megacities that have good train transportation system. Although some degree of traffic is still present in these areas, it is not as worse as their megacity counterparts without any good supportive train system such as Manila, Jakarta or Delhi.
Emerging subway train systems nowadays are energy-efficient and eco-friendly because they are electrically-powered, reducing belched particulate matter in the air. The high-speed bullet trains of Japan even use magnet and electrical force to move along the trains at rapid speeds. Speaking of speed, the fastest normal trains can go at a speed of 130 km/h, which on the average is two times faster than cars during a rush hour. Bullet trains, on the other hand, travel at an average of 320 km/h, making it a favorable transport for inter-city, inter-state or inter-region travels. This minimizes the long tedious driving hours going from one place to another, not to mention that traveling by train is far cheaper and cost-effective than having to refuel every time.
Ride a bike / Walk your way around town
With the threat of non-communicable diseases such as obesity looming over mankind’s head, a lot of us have started to move more and be more health-conscious. This is noticeable with the increasing number of people who are into running and going to the gym. This is a good health-seeking and health-maintaining behavior. However, we can reap even more rewards from these activities if we make it a part of our daily lifestyle, and not just a leisurely pursuit or a work out session.
One way of doing so is to minimize the use of cars and replacing it with walking or riding a bike whenever possible. A 10-minute drive to the nearest convenience store can take just a few minutes longer with a bike or by walking. Walking 20-30 minutes to school or to work is quite easy and very beneficial. Aside from exercising and toning your body, you also get energized naturally and avoid sleepy fits come noontime or afternoon.
Although this proposition is very good, the challenge is to provide roads or biking lanes and safe sidewalks throughout the city. This outline should be included in city blueprints of a well-planned sustainable urban city.
Green cars, green shuttles and carpooling
Perhaps riding our own cars is something some of us can no longer part with. In this case, there are alternatives to usual fuel-powered cars such as electric-powered cars. Nowadays, more and more of these types of cars are becoming available. While it is true that they consume a lot of electricity and are only useful for shorter periods of time than their conventional counterparts, they are very eco-friendly and good for a long-term sustainable city. Improvements in the field of electrically-powered cars will surely arrive that can match or even be more superior to the performance and convenience of our conventional cars at present.
We can also take the concept of electric cars to a whole new level and come up with green shuttles or green buses that are also electrically powered. Green buses can hold a lot of people at the same time; thus, dramatically minimizing car traffic and harmful car exhaust.
Here comes the future: Riding hoverboards and walkalators
Our capabilities and expertise in the field of Science and Engineering continue to expand and grow. Almost nothing is impossible as long as we devote our intellect and heart for it; thus, the stuff of sci-fi fiction such as hoverboards as main transportation may not be too far-fetched in the future. City-road walkalators is a very tangible reality. We can already see this feature in airports and even subway systems. Perhaps a walkalator as a major road for transportation can be considered too. It is very eco-friendly, not to mention a good way to enjoy the views of the city.
We Need More Wildlife and Natural Surroundings
“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower” – Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), Danish Playwright and Author
Today we live in a world where time is money, where there is no minute or two to spare and appreciate the beauty of nature. However, a worse predicament we are doing other than not appreciating nature is actually eradicating it. Industries and factories equate to money and economy and in turn, economy and money are a priority. This makes the building of industries and factories also our precedence, at the expense of taking over lush fields and forests.
In fact, at the advent of industrialization, there had been a dramatic decline in forests and fields due to land conversion. Logging to provide timber and wood for construction has also been rampant. Nowadays, we have cities that occupy more land area than forests and more buildings than trees that we resort to calling these concrete jungles or urban forests.
The ill effects of nature eradication
However enduring Mother Nature can be, there is bound to be a breaking point. What is the price we have to pay for marring Mother Nature this way? Well thanks to humankind’s reckless behavior and disregard for nature, we now have in our hands the phenomena of global warming, super typhoons and flash floods, famine and limited natural resources. All this eradication and destruction of nature to make way for buildings has wreaked havoc with our ecosystem in a number of ways as described here.
Pollution and climate change
This is almost self-explanatory. Since grade school, we have been taught about the air cycle. Humans and all living beings need oxygen to breathe and live. Oxygen is produced as a byproduct of trees during their photosynthesis, where they take up our exhaled carbon dioxide instead. What happens to this cycle when there are fewer trees? We can expect lower oxygen levels and a concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. Carbon dioxide can transform in the atmosphere into harmful and unstable carbon radicals that break down the ozone layer and we know how the rest of the story goes… global warming and rising sea levels, world-record strong typhoons and hurricanes and massive flash floods.
In grade school, we also learned how trees help the soil keep together, strengthening them against landslides. The roots go down deep and hold everything together to “drink up” groundwater. With mountains stripped off their crown of trees, the soil crumbles and slides down from heavy rain outpours.
Lack of food security and natural resources
All the food that we consume comes from nature. Aside of course from the unhealthy manufactured edible chemical goop we have since learned to eat. Meat, poultry, seafood and fish, vegetables and fruits, everything comes from the natural environment. There is small wonder then that we have increasing world hunger, for we have exchanged our source of food for a source of money. We have been incredibly short-sighted on our priorities. We thought that making more money would have meant the ability to buy more food. What we didn’t see at all is the possibility of not having enough available food to buy, or use our money for, since there are limited sources present.
Extinction of species and emergence of new diseases
Every turn of the century, we see fewer animal species and embarrassing as it is to admit, our continuing activities against nature have pushed other species to the brink of extinction. When we make way for buildings and convert forests into residential areas, or rig up oil reserves in the ocean, we are destroying the homes and natural habitat of other animals. The loss of habitat then translates to their gradual death.
Some may say that this is the law of nature, and we are just abiding by it. “Survival of the fittest, evolve or perish”, “We are the superior race because we evolve and we adapt”. Yes, we are the master species on Earth, but we neglect our responsibilities and instead, we exploit our power. However, nature knows how to ask for payback. Our activities that upset the ecological balance don’t go unpunished.
We see some horrible emerging diseases come our way such as Ebola, avian influenza pandemics, new strains of tropical diseases and many more. These diseases are not present before so why the sudden emergence? Take a look at the case of Ebola and one of the proposed theories regarding its transmission from humans.
Scientists believe that it is monkeys and bats that are the reservoir hosts for the Ebola virus, but how do humans become infected? In Africa, more and more countries are seeing the dawn of economic improvement. This entails for them to have areas for residential and commercial use. Communities resort to clearing away forests or savannahs to be converted for commercial use. On another side of the story though, are fruit bats, monkeys and other animals that naturally inhabit the converted areas.
When their forest habitats are destroyed, they were forced to scavenge off the resources from human populations. The fruit bats or monkeys may have wandered off in proximity to human communities, or eaten some fruit off a plantation then the humans come in contact with the infected saliva or urine from the animal, and infection starts. When we take animal territories, they have no choice but to do what they can to survive even if it meant intermingling with humans, and unknowingly spreading the viruses or bacteria that they naturally harbor.
Another case is the emergence of mosquito-epidemics such as dengue or malaria. An overgrowth of mosquito population is enabled since their natural predators such as lizards or frogs slowly decline in numbers. Overhunting or destruction of habitat are the causes of this. These examples highlight the importance of respecting ecological balance. Just because we are a superior species, it does not necessarily mean that we have the sole right of existence and power over resources. Nowadays, wildlife reserves and parks are devoted to endangered species such as Giant Pandas or African elephants. Hopefully, these measures are enough to protect our remaining wildlife.
Green Space in the Megacity: How can we have it?
Given all the negative effects enumerated above, can we still do something about it? Is it too late to take action on this? Actually yes, something can be done and it is not yet too late. Even the most broken things have a chance of being mended or at least have an alternative solution. The same goes for the state of our environment. Even if we cannot bring back in full-scale what we have lost, we can still make small efforts to have some portions of it back. One option is by having what we call “green spaces”.
As its name suggests, this can be a small space wherein you can find some natural greenery. Some buildings incorporate this concept and devote a portion of their rooftops for gardens, greenhouses and flower nurseries. Another measure is having disseminated potted plants inside the building. Even a few pieces of potted plant can help in giving off a calmer atmosphere, aside from being just decorative display.
Others take the green space concept a little further and more innovatively by planting vegetables on their mini-gardens. Some of those who live in condominiums and have their own balconies, for example, can grow small vegetables like tomatoes or onions in soil pots or soil boxes. These options are not merely decorative or for leisure, but it helps to be self-supportive and live a sustainable life by producing some components of our own food. One can also get a hint from the Japanese culture of doing bonsai gardens to maximize the limited and cramped spaces available in megacities.
Propagating small-scale green spaces take individual effort while large-scale green spaces need meticulous urban planning. The good news is that at present, there are exemplary cities that managed to maintain green spaces despite their heavy industrial advancement. These cities include the New York-Manhattan area with its Central Park and a few green areas along its riverside. Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur are good examples of well-balanced cities with prosperous buildings and skyscrapers while still maintaining portions of the land for numerous parks and greenery, along with an occasional spread of trees and gardens along their major roadsides.
Having green spaces in our cities is not impossible. We just have to learn to balance and compromise and to plan our cities well. One important factor to achieve this though is a resonance between the general population and the city/state or federal leaders. Individuals must be cautious and conscious enough when taking care of the environment, while the leaders must enforce and execute urban planning and propagation of green spaces seriously.
Cities that Build “UP” and not “OUTWARDS”
In the previous section, we have been acquainted with the idea of land preservation. With the continuous ballooning of the population, we are forced to find ways to provide more homes and residences. However, land clearing or land conversion is not the solution to the population boom. With the limited land space that we have, we have to learn how to build our cities and residences upwards and not outwards. Skyscrapers have been the answer to this spatial problem, as offices and residences have begun their vertical ascent. This feature has also been a characteristic marker for a megacity by adorning the city skyline.
Skyscrapers as landmarks are common such as the Burj-Khalifa in Dubai, Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore or Empire State Building in New York. Newer engineering techniques have enabled us to build even taller buildings than ever. Not to mention that now we have the option to build sustainable and eco-friendly skyscrapers, and maximize our space. This section shall not detail the engineering specifics of building skyscrapers. It will focus instead on the emerging innovations that can revolutionize skyscraper engineering.
Carbon Fiber: The future of Skyscrapers
The tallest building in the world right now is the Burj Kalifa in Dubai standing at 828 meters tall. However, some say that building an edifice twice as high or more is very possible. The limit in creating higher buildings lies in three factors: building material, structure, and actually, the elevator.
We can only build a structure as high as we are able to vertically ascend it. Nowadays, elevator technologies need to balance stability, power, and speed, to efficiently and safely transport its passengers. The elevators of the Burj Khalifa are made of the traditional steel ropes or wire cables. While this material is quite strong and sturdy, this could be quite heavy if used in a great quantity. This heavy characteristic limits the height and speed the elevator can travel. In fact, engineering experts say that 500 meters worth of cables is the limit and beyond that, it would be quite unsupportable. Making the wires and cables thinner has been an alternative solution but the risk of straining it too much is at stake.
KONE, an innovating company has found a breakthrough when it comes to elevator materials. They have designed the KONE UltraRope1 for elevators and this is very strong, but lightweight as well. The material is made of carbon fiber with a reinforced friction-resistant coating. This makes it light, requires less maintenance or replacing, and quite speedy as well.
Aside from replacing the cables for skyscraper lifts, carbon fiber as the main building framework or skeleton has been proposed. Structure-wise, carbon fiber is strong, proving to be 10 times sturdier than steel which is the go-to building material today. It is also much lighter, allowing for lesser strain on the ground foundation. Carbon fibers also resist swaying more effectively; thus, addressing the common skyscraper problems from wind wobble or ground shaking. Carbon fiber skyscrapers are still a conceptual idea of Peter Testa, an architect innovator from MIT3.
There have been many sound arguments and comments against carbon fiber as main skeleton and material for skyscrapers. Before we see magnificent, lightweight and aesthetically-innovative buildings made of carbon fibers, it is crucial to address those problems first. Some of the comments include the instability of carbon fiber when it comes to high temperatures. Tall buildings would be exposed to higher external temperatures as they go up, increasing their exposure to atmospheric temperatures from the sun. Carbon has the tendency to melt or expand, and thus reinforcing the material to have higher temperature tolerance is a must. Also, another issue is the availability of the material. As of now, carbon fiber manufacture is limited and thus investment in creating the materials first is a necessary precursor.
With reinforcements and further research to address its weak points, carbon fibers may prove very promising to build even taller skyscrapers than what we have at present. With a carbon fiber future, the sky (and perhaps funds and availability of materials) will truly be the limit then to building a metaphorical Tower of Babylon.
Going green is the trend nowadays as we become more attuned to healthier ways of life, and harboring more care for our environment. We have developed green lifestyles such as minimizing the use of plastics and recycling, minimizing the use of cars with eco-friendly ways of transport and more. However, aside from the individual efforts on maintaining an eco-friendly environment, green technologies are available nowadays. There may be a notion that technology is counterintuitive to maintaining or taking care of the environment and perhaps in the past, that has been the case. Nowadays, technologies available to us can balance being economic and eco-friendly.
Renewable sources of energy
Energy is one of our most indispensable necessities yet notoriously bad for the environment. Every year, our consumption of limited resources such as oil, gasoline, coal, etc. has been increasing. Due to the limited nature of these energy sources, there is a worry regarding its depletion and when we have no more fuel to power our cars and homes, to cook food with, or warm us up; it may as well be the end of modern-day humanity as we know it. Furthermore, these sources of energy produce residues such as fumes that are not safe for the environment or for our health. Thus, coming up with sustainable, environment-friendly sources of energy have been one of the forefronts of human interest.
In the past, it has been thought that nuclear sources of energy are the redemption, the answer to our energy woes. Even if many countries still rely on nuclear power to sustain their cities, we cannot belie the fact that these are unsafe. We will always remember the nuclear incident in Chernobyl, Ukraine or the recent Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in Japan. Aside from nuclear power, what other technologies can we count on? There are the natural and environment-friendly sources we have just learned to harness. More usage of solar panels to harness solar energy in homes and turn them into electricity should be made available. Wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy harnessing can also be used although these are less readily available.
Groundbreaking energy sources that the world never had the chance to see, comes from the mind of a taken-for-granted genius, Nikola Tesla. Tesla had the vision of harnessing energy from the atmosphere, from plasma sources, from earth’s magnetic fields and even gravity, making it unlimited and free for everybody. Though Tesla’s visions were suppressed before, a revolutionary foundation is budding and making those visions a reality. Dr. Mehran Keshe of the Keshe Foundation heralds what he calls a Magrav device or a Keshe Plasma Generator1, which is the future of energy and technology. It is a self-nourishing system that gathers energy from free sources around us such as gravity, or atoms in the air and converts the energy within the electron systems into usable energy. This is unlimited, safe, environment-friendly energy that is easy to make as well.
Green Skyscrapers: Sustainable and eco-friendly buildings
Since the start of this article, the vision of a sustainable and eco-friendly city has been our emphasis. Towards the end, this is also what we would like to have answered. How do we achieve that? The answer lies in technologies and urban planning designs that enable us to integrate green spaces and natural resources in our urban jungles or forests made of concrete.
One of the foremost green technologies we have is Hydroponics. This is the method of cultivating a wide array of plants and vegetation without soil. It only makes use of water and nutrients where the plants are grown. Hydroponic gardens can also be utilized indoors. It does not require a lot of maintenance or space, making it a suitable green garden alternative for fast-paced city lifestyles
Aside from tending to own hydroponic gardens, many architecture and engineering companies have enabled the use of technologies to make buildings or house a natural garden. Some of these measures include pre-cultivated vegetation blankets that one can use as roofing, walls or tiles. Aside from propagating plants and vegetation in buildings and homes, the use of bio-filters for air purification has been widely used. These bio-filters make use of HVAC systems incorporated with organic microbe degraders that will kill off ambient air bacteria, making our offices or homes safe and clean.
A healthy life and environment need not be compromised for economy and technological advancement. In fact, we can use technology to take care of our environment much better. As we go further into the future, it is not only us humans who evolve, but our surroundings and environment as well. We should introduce transformations that are for the better and greater good not only of our species, but for all living beings in our world. We should advocate sustainable and eco-friendly cities, for a better, more prosperous, healthier and livelier world.
It is our hope that the chapters, stories and information presented in this article have been beneficial and an eye-opener. With these in mind, let’s all work towards a future that is sustainable and eco-friendly.