We have visited Dubai, and Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates and have been impressed with several big ideas that they have.
While their wealth came from an "oil culture" they are now creating a city that only allows electric cars. They see the value and merit of this, while most people around the world do not. Remember, the "Arab" sector of the world, supplies most of the world's oil. They know something.
1. They believe that oil and gas are going to run out.
They not only believe it, but they are making plans for they day when they will have very little oil and gas. They are investing billions in renewable energy. Unlike many in the USA who almost consider it a religion, or political mandate to oppose anything that has to do with the environment, conservation, or renewable energy, the biggest and richest oilmen in the world, have researched it, and they are making specific, tangible moves to be prepared. Strange as it may seem, those desert nomads, who found themselves oil rich, are now becoming the worlds most progressive thinkers when it comes to environmentally sound architecture, "green" development, wind power, solar power, and solar water heating.
2. They believe in Green Houses, High Tunnels, and contained food production concepts.
They are expanding and investing big money to create agriculture so that they will not have to fly every strawberry, every tomatoe, and every vegetable 2,000 to 7,000 miles, to garnish their tables.
3. They believe in drip irrigation.
Golf courses, road right of ways, public parks, are all watered by drip irrigation, from underground lines.
4. They believe in building new concept cities using new ideas.
One of the most interesting cities that is going up is Masdar City. Described by an Arab enthusiast in effusive language:
"The project has been hailed by its developers as one in which commercial and residential entities will blend with each other to create a totally harmonious environment, where all lighting and air conditioning systems will be powered by a 40 to 60 megawatt solar power plant, a 20 mega watt wind farm, as well as hydrogen and geothermal based power."
Masdar City is about 20 miles from Abu Dhabi. Foster & Partners, has designed Masdar, a new city which uses several innovative concepts:
1. It is built on a 23 foot high mound, to capture desert breezes in the tradition of the ancient citadel of Aleppo in Syria and the mud-brick apartment towers of Shibam in Yemen. The mound become perfect for the underground infrastructure of transportation of the city.
2. It uses a fleet of driver-less electric cars that will utilize underground tunnels.
3. It has taken into consideration that the narrow streets of old, were often angled to create more shade and to increase pressure tunnels of air flow through the town.
4. The city will generate one half of it's electric power with solar panels. The rest of the power is made from wind turbines, and other "renewable" technologies. Nearly every roof top will have solar PV panels to harvest the hot Arab sun.
5. Only electric cars are allowed, and they will be used mainly underneath the city. When you get into one, a screen pops up, and you select your destination. The car then "drives you" there.
6. Stairs are encouraged to save electricity and maintenance of elevators. (Also Provides a bit of exercise). The city is built for walking as many of the world's great cities are, and it is a nod to health. The Arab's recognize that obesity has become a world problem, and the world's largest health expense. (Also a subject that we have repeatedly stressed in videos and articles: see http://www.bootheglobalperspectives.com).
7. Buildings use modern materials combined with creative use of concrete. Often the concrete is covered with ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene, which provides a modern appearance, and seals away water and air. The buildings that have gone up so far come in innovative styles, that hint of ancient design, but with modern materials.
8. As you see in some of the ancient fortresses of India and old Asia, buildings have structural screening and lattice type structure that blocks the sun.
9. The city will have a "light rail" connection to Abu Dhabi, thus eliminating the need for residents to have automobiles. The concept will add to a city with much "street culture" similar to that of Paris, Boston, New York and San Francisco.
10. Even as we have promoted "desalination" in Texas through our Wind Inc. http://www.wind-inc.com and Global Perspectives, the people of UAE, unlike the USA are "doing" it, with several of the largest "desal" plants in the world. As "Wiki" reports, water management has been planned in an environmentally sound manner as well. A solar-powered plant for desalination will be used to provide the city's water needs, which is estimated to be 40 to 60%percent lower than similarly sized communities. Approximately 80 percent of the water used will be recycled and waste water will be reused "as many times as possible," with recycled grey water is being used for crop irrigation and other purposes.
Other innovations: The city will also attempt to reduce waste to zero. Biological waste will be used to create nutrient-rich soil and fertiliser, and some may also be used to make energy. Industrial waste.Plastics and metals, will be recycled or re-purposed for other uses.
Consider a world where traditional energy becomes scarce and expensive. Where the poor people simply cannot afford fuel for cars, or trucks or travel. Consider a world, where food becomes so expensive, that "food security" forces have to be employed. Then, think, what if you lived in Masdar? It would be like a utopia. A city completely energy self-sufficient. A place where you have no need of a car, and no electric bills. A city fed by concentric circles of greenhouses http://www.cornucopia-enterprise.com, with water provided from wells pumped by electricity provided by wind turbines and solar panels. Food that does not need to be shipped thousands of miles, and therefore food that is fresh and not expensive. Just think of it.
Is that dream one that should be isolated in one city in UAE, or should we all consider it? We in the USA, and the cities of Latin America and Europe, have a climate that would make such a transition much easier.