Linear City. Again! A concept that purports to solve the human problem. The human problem is that we impact negatively on nature, on our world and on our own prospects for survival. The problem solved is very clearly that we live with nature and not in control, for if anything of the past year has educated us, Covid-19 has emphasised the fact that we do not control nature. We are as much part of it as the smallest life form and clearly seek to impact on it more than the largest. Urban development can be likened to a ‘wall’ another concept rearing its’ ugliness in recent times. Both a concept and a physical reality that divides communities as had the Berlin wall until relatively recently. We interpret this as a division of things human, communities, families and neighbourhoods. It also divides communities in nature, fauna and flora alike. We actively create conditions where nature evolves a response that weakens biodiversity. Mohamed bin Salman correctly questions, “Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development?” Inadvertently, answering this in the seeking to demonstrate our superiority and actions in putting humanity first. The Arabian proposal is a linear city 170 kilometres long separating a coastal region from a desert, dividing parts of the desert in a series of modules linked by a route in which it is intended a million people will live. This in an area that for millennia has remained low density with settlements linked by camel trains and routes, later roads and mechanised transport. The need to link societies for trade and the sharing of ideas has generated with it a need to control the passage that permits our societal evolution. To paraphrase many with a question, (David Attenborough, Jared Diamond, etc.) are we consuming our world to destruction? We constantly seek to settle new lands to facilitate our expanding population. The irrigation of Southern Jordan in the Wadi Rum desert, using an aquifer below the desert that has had an accelerating depletion consistent with anthropogenic expansion culminating in todays’ farming. This according to the Disi Water company in Southern Jordan is likely to last only another fifty years. Assuming the linear city has sufficient size and spaced openings to avoid interference with the ecology with particular regard to flora and fauna, it remains unlikely that local peopled communities will have no impact. Recreational use of areas surrounding modules will have an impact, the modules will have facilities providing for residents, will cause shadows and impacts alien to the location. Waste from the modules, sewage and refuse will either need to be treated or transported. Successful treatment of waste water will create micro environments that will change the ecology and impact on flora and fauna. A million people will need water for daily hygiene and consumption and similar to providing hydration for food in the Wadi Rum, will likely deplete the associated aquifer. Is it intended to use treated sea water? Is it intended that treated waste water will be returned to the sea, thereby impacting less than on land. This of itself poses a problem to the bio-diversity of the sea. What happens if the project fails? What happens if the water runs dry? Technology is developing to solve these problems, and a deep evaluation of all impacts of solutions prior to constructing a linear city, anywhere is needed. While a solution to the ever expanding requirement for human settlement is required, we must seek to live with and not in control of nature for the later is a illusion. Grandiosity in a project is not sufficient to warrant proceeding and of course, nature should not be sacrificed for the sake of development.
Jaren Diamond – Collapse.