In yesterday’s National Post two stories intrigued me that ultimately relate to resources available to the Human Hive. They appeared without linkage to each other but they raised bridging questions for me.
The first article was about a Super Human Hive – a megacity that China has plans for turning the Pearl River Delta into one urban area. This goes way beyond “metro-izing” a city – it would be (according to the article) 65 times larger than Toronto. It would be bigger than most countries (including Canada) – with a population of 42 million. It would connect the infrastructures of nine cities: Ghangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhual, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. What is not mentioned in the article is that it would effectively form an arc with two legs with the northern foot being the city of Hong Kong and the southern foot being the territory of Macau.
This appears ostensibly to be a strategic move for reconciling massive infrastructural issues — but it will effectively re-bind the feet of the Euro-influenced urban centres of Hong Kong and Macau back to the body of central China.
My first reaction to this news was to wonder if they were creating a dinosaur of centralized control that would be impossible to govern. But on consideration of the opportunities that are proposed to emerge from this massive merger (intercity rail transportation, communication, healthcare, hospitals, schools, rural-urban linkages) I started to imagine something more like the elegant articulation that is the Netherlands. What if this is a step towards releasing more freedom for individual movement and therefore opening corridors for innovation and resource exchange? That could enable much more efficient use of resources while improving the health of the system, by connecting it to more of itself (a central tenet of Integral City). It could actually be the infrastructure that underpins a massive meshwork and enable a Super Human Hive.
The second article by Terence Corcoran offered a counter sunny view to the economic gloom that is currently being broadcast at the Davos World Economic Forum. According to Corcoran, Bloomberg News is reporting the onset of a “Super Cycle” “that will last a couple of decades and leave no economy behind…The integration of China, India and other developing countries into an increasingly globalized economy will generate commerce and investment, spreading wealth everywhere.”
This optimistic view certainly stems from a similar principle as noted above – it is the global scale of connecting the system to more of itself. And while Corcoran often expresses a skeptic counter-culture financial/economic view, in this instance I would like to believe he is offering something appreciative of human potential. A super cycle (like the mega-city in China) would emerge from “increasing trade, high rates of investment, urbanization, and technological innovation, characterized by the emergence of large new economies”.
But what neither article addresses, that sits like a bear in the middle of this human hive, is how we will underpin these developments with the basic resources that will be required to support them – food, water and energy – and how we will negotiate the increasingly troublesome barriers of cultural intransigence (the Moscow airport bombing is concurrent with these two stories) and the very real challenge of climate change (whatever its cause).
So the emotions that these stories leave me with — are inspirational hope for super cycle optimism and my own brand of skepticism that the pundits have actually done any homework related to infrastructure resource availability, accessibility and equity. The picture of China’s Pearl Delta legs standing on the feet of the great innovative centres of Hong Kong and Macau could be dancing with human ingenuity or crippled by human denial. I want to vote for the dance, but I suspect that the denial will call us off the dance floor more than once until we make sure the music is sustainable and the floor won’t collapse underneath us. To be continued.