Highest is not the same as Best

When the Burj Khalifa was completed I thought “That’s it.  The race is over.  This is so much higher than any other skyscraper, and already so impractical and not cost-effective, that nobody’s even going to try and top it.  It will probably remain as the world’s tallest building for the length of my time, and possibly until the end of the anthropocene era.”
I thought wrong, apparently.  I guess I underestimated the spirit of human competitiveness, or maybe it’s not as financially impractical as I thought, or maybe the state of human architecture and engineering is more advanced than I thought.
In any event, this morning I was glancing at a list (I hate lists on the internet, but I do sometimes get sucked in) of 10 tallest buildings to be completed in 2020, and my eye was drawn to the #1 contender, as none of the others tops the Burj Khalifa.
Jeddah Tower, in Saudi Arabia, will be over a kilometer tall.  That is a darned impressive milestone.  It’s ironic that it is being built in such a shithole country, a country where women are seriously oppressed, and people are executed for homosexuality.  And a whole bunch of other stuff, too, they have executions, frequently, in public.  It’s also uncertain that it will be completed, whether because of financial or logistic difficulties, I’m not sure.  But, the project in on hold at the moment, and only about 3/4ths complete.
So, it’s interesting, but hold the fireworks.
In fact, even if it is completed, hold the fireworks.  Having the tallest building in the world is not going to make Saudi Arabia a better, more tolerant country, that does not murder journalists by cutting off all their body parts one by one with a bone saw.
What the world needs is not more and higher skyscrapers.  What the world needs is greener buildings.  Greener homes, greener offices, greener schools, greener hospitals, libraries, restaurants, and shops.
There should be prizes.  If there were a billion dollar first prize awarded annually for the greenest structure, based on lowest carbon footprint, there would be a race to find ways to lower the carbon footprint until, pretty soon, we would cross that threshold and all new constructions would have a reverse carbon footprint, and function as purifiers of the atmosphere.
And the world would be a better place.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Highest is not the same as Best

  1. Good for green but let’s also have (as you mentioned) more tolerance for the marginalized & less murdering of those one disagrees with politically. It is a scandal that the US (under T.rump) still sells arms to the Saudis instead of calling them out for their responsibility for the murder of Kashoggi.

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