Skip to main content

Contrasting futures - the suburb vs. the city (Part III)

Those of you who read these posts [Part I Part II] know that my worldview of ecologically sustainable living, has, over the years veered towards cluster based human settlement – large metropolises or cities with shared infrastructure which reduces the ecological cost of living and that recent technological breakthroughs in Solar power, off-grid power storage, biodegradable materials etc have created a window for suburban sprawls also be become ecologically efficient lifestyles.

But as we concluded in the previous post of this series, the biggest stumbling block in making suburban life sustainable is the real estate overhead claimed by it. Suburban sprawls, however energy efficient, do consume much larger space per-capita leaving less land available for food and related needs to serve the ever-burgeoning population of the world. The matter is further complicated by the rapid upward economic mobility of large populations in Asia and Africa.

I wrote about two routes to manage these contrasting necessities - need to bring prosperous living to all human population and maintaining an ecological balance. I elaborate these two below.

Route A - Stick to cities until we can move back to suburbs!

It is predicted that human population will peak to 9bn around 2050; then come down to today’s levels by end of this century. If we can keep walking on the fine line of ecological sustenance by then, the human population will possibly live in a healthy harmony on earth after this period. An illustration of this ‘sustainable life’ is available in parts of Europe where prosperous nations with low-density population aided largely by mechanised solutions are living a far more ecologically balanced lifestyle than cities and suburbs in Asia or even North America.

It looks difficult however that almost 5bn Asian and African populations slowly maturing towards the lifestyle of the West, would wait for another century – these populations will want the comforts of a developed lifestyle faster and hence might put increasing pressure on our ecological systems. As is evident already with the environmental imbalances across the globe – this might spawn an ecological disaster far before world population peaks, plummeting human prosperity or even threatening human existence!

In a best-case scenario, if we do continue to walk on the thin line between ecological disaster and providing comfort to populations in developing nations; the future, until population abates, lies in clustered living – even denser cities and metros rising vertically leaving larger swathes of land for agriculture and forests.

Route B - Fly away!

The other alternative, like Solar, electric cars and off-grid charging; is again being heralded by Elon Musk. If we can’t reduce human population and we can’t prevent an ecological collapse with the rising population, the only option we have left is to create more real-estate. And what better than colonizing Mars to increase real estate. In fact, several innovations such as Solar Power, Electric Vehicles, even Tunnel based Hyper-Loop systems are a ready fit for a Martian colony.

Humans could harness the power of the Sun to create a cocooned Martian ‘space’ station which would grow its own food, manage its own micro-sewage, and people could commute within the station with electric vehicles and between two stations through hyperloop tunnels.

Are we there yet? Hell - no!

However, we are racing against the ecological clock with both these alternatives; will mankind be able to set up a Martian colony before earth implodes with human population? Or will we be able to create enough cities while keeping the ecological cost of living under check to prevent imminent ecological collapse?

Only time will tell – I just hope I can live long enough to see how the suspense ends!

This essay is the last of a 3 part series - read Part I and Part II

I recently added an epilogue to this series here


Popular posts from this blog

Experienced vs. Freshers – an MBA perspective

Shubham and me compiled and created an article during our first year of MBA. It was never published, nevertheless MBA aspirants will find it very useful. Publishing it online for the same purpose. However, Shubham and myself claim a copyright on the text .... and of course very many thanks to all our freinds whose views have helped us compile the article. Experienced vs. Freshers – an MBA perspective By Nikhil Kulkarni, KPMG Shubham Choudhury, Infosys PGDIM- X, NITIE, Mumbai Ashita Mittal was placed during her final year in engineering college with a leading software firm. But she never wanted to be another brick in the wall. She wanted to differentiate herself from other graduates who start their career at the lowest rung of organizational hierarchy. MBA was a natural choice for her. On the other side is Shailesh Dhawla, who worked as a software engineer with a leading software consultancy firm for 3 years. He started his job with some ends in mind, like working with a known c

How will travel industry transform post-Covid

Unlike philosophers, journalists and teenagers, the world of entrepreneurship does not permit the luxury of gazing into a crystal ball to predict the future. An entrepreneur’s world is instead made of MVPs (Minimum Viable Product), A/B Tests, launching products, features or services and gauging / measuring their reception in the market to arrive at verifiable truths which can drive the business forward. Which is why I have never written about my musings or hypothesis about travel industry – we usually either seek customer feedback or launch an MVPised version and gather market feedback. However, with Covid-19 travel bans across the globe, the industry is currently stuck – while a lot of industry reports and journalistic conjectures are out, there’s no definitive answer to the way forward. Besides there is no way to test your hypothesis since even the traveller does not know what they will do when skies open. So, I decided to don my blogger hat and take the luxury of crystal gazing

Ekla Chalo re

Watched "Bose- The forgotten Hero" on Saturday. Gem of a movie and probably the best of Shyam Benegal. Subhash Chandra Bose has always been an inspiring character in the history for the youth. This post however is not about the movie, its about the lead song 'Tanha Rahee' which is based on the poem 'Ekla Chalo Re' by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. I had pasted the English translation of this poem on my blog earlier. However, yesterday I found the original bengali text of the poem and found that the meaning in the above translation was not exact. So I have endeavourer (with the help of Shubham ) to re-translate it into English and Hindi by myself. Here is the output of my work: Bengali Jodi Tor Dak Soone Keu Na Asse Tobe Ekla Chalo re Ekla Chalo Ekla Chalo Ekla Chalore Jodi Keu Katha Na Kai Ore Ore O Abhaga Jodi Sabai Thake Mukh Firae Sabai Kare Bhay Tabe Paran Khule O Tui Mukh Fute Tor Maner