Manufactured Landscapes


Many animals build to sustain life. Bees build cubicals, ants build tunnels, beavers build dams, and humans build all of these. The difference is that humans grow in our consumption and building. Beavers have been building the same dams for hundreds of years while humans would think it ridiculous to build the same building as was built even 10 years ago. 100 years ago, the population was 1,650,000,000 people. “The world human population currently increases by 203,800 every day” and now there are an estimated 6,453,628,000 people in the world.

That’s 4,803,628,000 people in 100 years.1

When Mao finished his reign, there was 90% agrarian and 10% urban, the current idea coming from Beijing is to see it 30% agrarian and 70% urban which, when you look 1.3 billion, the urbanization of China is unprecedented in the world.
Manufactured Landscapes, 2006

Is this natural? Is the human population and our creations just as much a part of nature as a beaver’s dam? The documentary Manufactured Landscapes by Jennifer Baichwal tackles these questions in a unique and beautiful way by following “photographer Edward Burtynsky [as he] travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing.” The film is nothing less than astounding.

Edward Burtynsky has also given a talk for TED.

1 Population statistics from Wikipedia.

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  • China has unique population problems that maybe only India would understand. Pity if they have to 'diverge from Nature' though - they could go green.
  • It's not really the population that bothers me as much as the side effects of such an abrasive existence. Whether it's China or India with the population problems, the US and other European countries are feeding them with money to sustain such rapid growth. When so much money is coming in, it's always easier to be green "later." It's expensive to go green as well. And it's not boolean, it's a gradient. How far is enough?

    Thanks for the comment btw. I guess we are seeing these problems before they are really a problem that the whole human race is willing to see. Once that happens, we will solve it. It's so "if it isn't broken, don't fix it."
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