The City as Nature

Basalt Henderson, deputy commissioner of biological studies at Harkmoor university for over 30 years, and a celebrated botanist. He published the conclusions of a study in the New Science Review three years ago, with no one on the editing team realising that the post was marked for April 1st. 

Dear Sir,

I’d like to bring to your attention the vast investigation carried out in three of the world’s major cities.  This tripartite investigation was formed between The Ecological and Anthropological societies of London’s Gower Street, The New York academy of the architectural philosophy (led by Prof. Eugene Markowsky) and the Chemistry faculty of Canberra (Dr. Harton McGregor as chair). Working independently and sharing our data in tandem, we have spent three years in gaining the perspective on the continued expansion of the city during the approach of the age in which we all currently reside: The Anthropocene.

For too long has society look at its development microscopically. We narrowly view the development of our cities through the lens of our only distraction: capital. We know that, since the mass abandonment of the agricultural and feudal arrangements, that the general populace has fled to the city for their economic well-being. But to put this transformation for the motivation of securing wages and a livelihood is not to take into account the full scientific effects of such a pilgrimage. Without a doubt, a trail of ants will make their way, sometimes often for up to half a mile, to extract their weight from a sugar cube; but are we to say the sugar cube is what makes this possible?

We refer to Harding’s study of the canal works from 1782 to 1818, from this period over two thousand kilometres of new waterways and locks were fitted through the south-east and north-west of England.  In the more modern cities of New York and Canberra the canals and sewers followed London within the century. It is these engineering achievements, of the movement and manipulation of water, that make our cities possible. To say money made it possible, is a dimly lit view; the vast public expenditure needed for these projects was made as it was believed that an expansion of wealth would be the byproduct not the other way around.

Through our study, we believe that there are more factors that determine the evolution of our urban environments. This is underpinned by the spread and facilitation of private property. For example, we have long employed town and/or city planners to use the landscape of our cities correctly. Whereas what is more true is the planners, rather than be totally guided by the highest scientific and technological intuition of their day, become mediators and an office of contact for the legal debate about which developments affect which private landowner, and to negotiate the development of the city with this individual, or consortium of, landowners. There are boring people of this world who claim that, unbridled, our city planners would have been able to open out our cities to uniform space and equality of scale and habitat. In our case, we have examined that were this true, our cities would in fact, still look the same, except that we probably would be at a incrementally more advance stage than we are in now.

What we see around the world is not an economical factor, it is a natural evolution of mankind reflecting nature. Our usage of water to feed and populate the spaces that we need, but are hard to make habitable. Our streets and roads become dysfunctional, even dangerous, were the water from precipitation remains on its surface, so we have made systems, and invented materials (such as tarmacadam) that refuse absorption and channel the water where it can be kept beneath us.  To house the energy (IE our labor and citizens) that permit our societies to work, but contain us within the space where the energy can be used most economically, we build their abodes up into the sky. Fundamentally, we conclude, that mankind has built itself much like that of the Cactaceae.

Yours Truly,
Prof. Basalt Henderson Ph.D

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