Suburban Furnace

Can we build skyscrapers that are , say, 10 km high? r we there yet?culd it help safe more land for forests?

* save ...............

Permaculture Answer:

People Care:
NO. High rise housing is not successful. It has been a key indicator in many studies of socio-economic deprivation and a massive negative impact on whole communities and on every aspect of a person's life and life chances: from crime rates, to health; including diet, activity, lifestyle choices (ie smoking, alcohol consumption etc) Birth rates, still birth and mortality rates, family size. Air quality, water quality, poverty, social exclusion, access to services and social networks. Employment, unemployment, benefit claims, training, transport, education, facilities, amenities and teenage pregnancy etc etc.

Earth Care:
All high rise buildings are environmentally very expensive. They have to be made of reinforced concrete and steel. These have a very high level of CO2 emissions. Concrete is made from cement which requires large amounts of energy to produce, it does not reabsorb CO2, the building industry uses massive amounts of drinking water too. Mining the raw materials for the production of both cement and iron ore for steel causes massive environmental disruption. The concrete contains gravel and sands these also need to be mined. Processing steel uses massive amounts of energy in blast furnaces and rolling mills. Reinforced concrete, is notoriously difficult to recycle. All the above processes produce copious amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.

We to have to build so we have a number of options. We can use trees, new and old technologies and lower level buildings with rooftop gardens.

In Permaculture the problem is the solution. We are concreting over the natural environment so bring the natural environment back into the cities, towns and suburbs. Trees can, and should be, grown just about everywhere, around car parks, in city centers, on farm land, in suburban gardens and as part of a Permaculture homestead. Trees solve many of our urban problems. They contribute to minimizing the effects of global warming. Firstly trees absorb heat, produce shade, stabilize humidity, improve air quality, create micro climates which can create cooler environments, breezes and precipitation. There are yields of fruit, nuts and timber, soil enrichment/production, prevent soil erosion. Trees make beneficial root associates, provide aerosol for saplings, take up water and re-release it thus 'watering' other plants around them encouraging diversity and a habitat for flora and fauna. Trees take up a lot of excess water so reduces flooding. To adapt to climate change we can use the Permaculture stacking system, based on natural ecosystems in and around cities. Layers of growth from bacteria through, herbs, shrubs, through to full size trees. Trees planted within cities ameliorate Urban Heat Island Effect, Albedo Effect, which is a massive problem in cities in Summer, raising the temperature significantly and leading to more power use in fans and refrigeration.

People with access to land convert to a Permaculture Homestead. On this you grow woods/forests and as part of your managed woodland you take a yield. You build your own home from your timber as the best use for timber is in housing, particularly for CO2 sequestering. You cut down the older timber which creates space to plant more saplings, because the maximum carbon uptake point of trees is it at peak growing not when the tree is mature. The mature tree timber is then used in buildings/cabinet made furniture so that it lasts for hundreds of years still locking in the CO2. Then as long as you do not burn the timber or allow it to decompose it locks the CO2 in. If it is burned it only releases the same amount of CO2 as it took in unlike oil based products it is carbon neutral. So the newly planted trees then take up further amounts of carbon.

Man has managed ecosystems throughout time so we need to look at ways in which to meet our needs on the minimum amount of land possible, then we can leave the wilderness/natural environment alone. We never return to forest after having any buildings on them. Brown field sites are just that with inherent long term pollutants. There is no going back. We can build using new technologies such the Japanese Monolith Dome or Eugene Tsui's eco friendly biomimicry architecture see links below. Or we can use methods of building that return to the soil without a trace, such as the traditional methods of straw bale building and earthships etc.

The third option is to raise the natural environment up onto the roof tops of new cities. This has been done in China where the farmers go on their tractors from rooftop field to field via bridges. See links below; it is near the end of the presentation.

We have to place value on the natural environment because it is essential for the functioning of the ecosystem, so it is essential for our own survival. There are no simple answers, the best for me is to use the least land possible to meet man's need. So bring the natural environment back into our urban spaces, create Permaculture Homesteads, encourage environmentally friendly agricultural practices and leave the wilderness/natural landscape alone. No matter what your ideology is, the question is simple: Cover the whole country in Concrete or bring back the natural environment into our lives and urban spaces?

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