According to one hypothesis, the Great Wall of China, the largest witness of civilization on Earth, was not raised in an effort to protect the country from invasion of the Huns and other nomadic tribes, but to set the border which separated civilized people from the barbarians. Today, more than two thousand years since the history of the Great Wall began, people are still building walls, firmly convinced that they represent their culture and civilization.
They build the walls not only to protect their nations, but also to isolate themselves as individuals. Despite the fact that men think they have achieved great progress over the last century, the walls they built are meaningless in terms of their evolution. Those buildings reflect not only on our nature, but also on our mood, actions, and our psycho-social wellbeing.
Instead of building the future for next generations, civilizations continue destroying it. The city, in its current form, hasn’t existed for that long. Regarding the fact that humanity spent more than a million years in evolution, the existence of the city (5-7 millennia) is a short period of time. In other words, the man has the potential to exist in a different, more natural environment than the city. However, I doubt that the ungrateful human nature would settle for anything less or more than the symbols and archetypes imposed by civilization.
Humanity is still far from a harmonious urban or post-urban civilization on a global level. From the current viewpoint, I doubt that such society could ever exist. It is difficult for me to imagine that the electronic civilization would lead to one nation’s harmonious existence with other nations and the environment itself. In a world driven by power, few civilizations armed with fanaticism and chilling innovations would develop a script worse than any apocalyptic scenario that comes to my mind.
The big modern cities, like Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, and Dubai seem like the greatest achievements of humanity. Dubai was built on a territory that seemed like a desert, but behind those walls, it is still a social and cultural desert. The city, as the most precious setting the modern civilization offers, is also the biggest long-term threat for humanity. Scientists estimate that over 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth have been extinct.
Some of them are gone because they evolved in another form, some have been lost during the battles for survival, but some are gone because of the degradation of their natural habitats, caused by men. People around the world spend huge amounts of non-renewable natural resources. Extinction of specific species is a big problem, but the fact that civilization contributed and still contributes towards the disappearance of entire ecosystems is more troublesome.
Cars are the largest source of noise and pollution in the cities. If all citizens don’t use their vehicles for only one day per week, the air they will breathe will be cleaner for 13%. The fact that people are not ready to make that sacrifice for their own wellbeing is proof that we’ve become dependent upon the wonders of civilization, although it keeps destroying us. In 2009, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in UK proposed a radical solution to the British Parliament: artificial trees.
The interdisciplinary team of scientists warned that the efforts of governments to reduce the progressive trend of carbon dioxide emissions were not producing any results. Planting trees would be the perfect long-term solution, but it’s not an activity that would produce quick results. We’ve cut all trees to build the cities, and now we have to mass-produce artificial trees as the only way to repair the damage.
Civilization comes at the cost of our nature. It seems like cities cannot coexist with the natural surroundings. As men keep destroying the greenery of Earth, scientists have to think of radical solutions like the so-called geoengineering. Are future generations going to build forests of artificial trees? To me, it seems like the greedy nature of men would prevent them from giving up the luxurious setting of their cities and the false comfort of their homes for the sake of making up for the damage they have caused. If we continue basing our actions upon our lust for riches, future generations will inevitably face an apocalyptical scenario.