21 May 2008
Skyscrapers Skyscrapers Everywhere!
I was washing dishes in Lianne’s 15th floor kitchen this morning and looked up from the sink to see nothing but a sea of “apartment.” The only thing in my line of site was left to right, top to bottom apartment. I cranked my next around and off in the distance, beyond this next apartment skyscraper, the only site off in the distance was more “apartment.” In fact, it is apartments and not businesses that really dot the Shanghai skyline. With 27 million people or so, that just seems to be the most logical way of filling the need for places to live.
And those who live in these buildings lives fairly well. All of them are two or three bedrooms. Hot water and air conditioning are commonplace. Balconies are a necessity, as people don’t use dryers here. Of course there are millions who live with far less, but the image I’m trying to display here is that of China’s rising middle class – the Chinese version of America’s single-family home suburbia. The only difference is, this middle class model is far more affordable, as infrastructure costs and energy cost and land costs are lower.
This model, in many ways, could be an image of how the planet could sustain a certain lifestyle for every person on it. That made me wonder, if we knew that every human being on earth could have food, water, reasonable health care and a decent place to live if it meant that we would have to downsize some, would we do it? To KNOW that we could end poverty, hunger and infant mortality if we skim a bit off the top of our lives. I don’t know what the answer would be, but I am certainly comfortable in this apartment with my 15th floor views, satellite TV, hot water, hardwood floors and recessed lighting. That is, it aint so bad. Just some food for thought.
On a lighter note, while gas is extremely subsidized here and most everyone who needs it can afford it, that doesn’t mean there are enough gas stations to go around. Check out this line of scooters waiting for their turn to pump some black gold. Must have been AT LEAST 100 of them in line. Could you ever imagine being late to work then telling your boss, “I’m really sorry. There were 100 people ahead of me in line at the gas pump.” I don’t think so…