What have you been reading? May 27, 2021

“Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Winston S. Churchill


Fewer  Babies’ Cries, More Abandoned Homes 

Last week I featured a story about declining sperm counts. This week it is an article about declining populations. If I were to ask you for a population forecast for China, what would it be? One model estimates China’s population will drop from 1.41 billion people today to 730 million by 2100. The article asks us to imagine paying large bonuses to immigrant families with lots of children.  Excerpt:

Like an avalanche, the demographic forces — pushing toward more deaths than births — seem to be expanding and accelerating. Though some countries continue to see their populations grow, especially in Africa, fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere else. Demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time.

Damien CaveEmma Bubola and Choe Sang-Hun


What to do about a labour crunch 

Limits on immigration – labour shortages

Read the above New York Times article. Then read this piece in The Economist about the labour crunch. Negative populations growth plus limits on immigration will lead   to increasingly severe labour shortages. Excerpt: 

Next is passports, which relates to immigration. Temporary border controls to stop the virus make sense, but they should not last beyond the pandemic. In New Zealand annual net migration has fallen from 92,000 to 7,000. Australia is losing migrants. Britain is also reckoning with Brexit-related immigration changes. That is why in many countries industries, such as hospitality, that rely on foreigners face the most acute shortages. Politicians must be clear that closed borders will come with a painful price tag—or change tack


Corcoran, California

Subsidence caused by aquifer overuse

I have long held that man threatens its own existence through the abusive misuse of natural resources. This article looks at subsidence in the agricultural community of Corcoran, California. The Aral Sea should not have been allowed to dry up just to produce cotton for cheap jeans. At the risk of infuriating many, who ever thought that golf courses in the desert was a good idea? Excerpt:

Corcoran is sinking.

Over the past 14 years, the town has sunk as much as 11.5 feet in some places — enough to swallow the entire first floor of a two-story house and to at times make Corcoran one of the fastest-sinking areas in the country, according to experts with the United States Geological Survey.

Subsidence is the technical term for the phenomenon — the slow-motion deflation of land that occurs when large amounts of water are withdrawn from deep underground, causing underlying sediments to fall in on themselves.

Lois Henry with contributions from Ana Facio-Krajcer

DESIGN / UK – The Monocle Minute – May 27, 2021 

Constructive praise

Repair – Reuse – Recycle

For those who feel that architecture focuses too often on building from scratch, a new award from London-based charity Open City seeks to recognise the opposite: the “outstanding long-term strategic care of existing buildings, infrastructure and open spaces”. Open City, which made a name for itself through the popular Open House festival, argues that urban stewardship is the most important but least celebrated aspect of city-making. “Architecture remains one of the most carbon-intensive sectors in the economy,” says Maria Smith of international group Construction Declares, which is partnering on the award.

“The Stewardship Awards will celebrate those who are leading the change we need to see.” Applications are open until 17 June and an online briefing event at 15.00 London time today will detail the process. With architecture’s top honour, the Pritzker prize, having been awarded to refurbishment projects for the first time earlier this year, the industry’s new make-do-and-mend attitude is gaining some strong foundations.

Lisbon – A City on the Rise?

March 7, 2023

Lisbon’s seven hills and waterfront make it visually spectacular. The second oldest capital in Europe, the city has energy. Busy streets and squares, full restaurants, and vibrant night life – the city pulsates. And, the population seems young. All signs of a city on the rise? Earthquake A 1755 earthquake destroyed 85% of the city […]

Cities and Towns, The Affordable Housing Problem

February 8, 2023

People living on the street have come to symbolize the global housing crisis but they are only the tip of the iceberg. While the examples of Finland and Houston demonstrate a focussed plan pursued diligently can resolve the housing situation for the chronically homeless, addressing the affordable housing problem is much more complex.  Defining Affordability […]

I Love to Dance

January 29, 2023

I love to dance. This is not something new for me. I can’t remember when I didn’t like to move to the music. My first memories of watching others dance come from my childhood in Cape Breton where I would watch the adults square dance. Then, there were the step dancers who would often accompany […]

Cities and Towns 8, A City is About People

January 19, 2023

Kings Cross, once a thriving industrial and transport centre in London, was effectively closed  off  to the public by the end of the 20th century.   Then in 1996, the decision was made to move the British terminus for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Waterloo to St-Pancras. The landowner saw a re-development opportunity for […]

NEOM - the Wall

Cities and Towns 7, Cities and Towns Evolve

January 8, 2023

I have postulated that cities and towns evolve. That towns and villages first grow in areas where the basics to support life were plentiful. Typically, that means good agricultural land and good access to water. Other valuable considerations include safety, and resilience. The bonus – access to trade routes.  Walt Disney and the Fully Formed […]

Christmas Poem 2022

December 22, 2022

A Visit from Saint Nicholas A Poem by Jonathan Potter – December 2022 ‘Twas the first mask-free Christmas, when all through the stores  The vaccinated children were spewing their spores;The shoppers were eagerly starting to riotAs the introverts longed for some quarantine quiet. The public healthcare workers were tracing the pathOf the flu and RSV, […]