Monday, December 05, 2005

A Cassandra with a sense of humor

Author Simon Winchester may be on to something. In a BBC News article he writes that America has not had enough time as a nation to get a grip on the best places, geologically speaking, to build its cities.
America is a country without any ruins.

Maybe the odd ghost-town in Utah and Nevada, but basically no ruined cities.

The country is young enough to have set down its cities wherever it pleases, without ever stopping to ask if the world agrees.

And the world does not always agree.

Which prompts me to wonder out loud whether - if one can imagine a map of America drawn up, say, two centuries from now - whether there may in fact be a litter of abandoned and ruined cities.

The report is written with British wry wit, and not at all smug, a nice change. It asks questions that unfortunately too many Americans are not willing to consider. All you have to do is look at New Orleans, which Winchester does:
It is a little eccentric to create a city on a swamp, six metres below sea-level, between a river and a lake, in a part of the world afflicted by near-constant summer hurricanes. Might this not, one day, be abandoned to the elements?
Not if Ray Nagin can brow-beat his constituency to come back home. Barring that, Winchester is dead on. He, among others, points out the obvious about San Francisco: it's days are numbered.

No one seems to care much.


Post a Comment

<< Home