The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ghost Cities Update, and the Mystery of the Biggest Building in the World

It's been a couple of years since we initially looked at the "ghost cities" of China. At that time, there was a feeling that the development just couldn't go on forever.  Well, maybe not forever, but it has continued at least this long. As the following report on Australia's "60 Minutes" TV show illustrates, the cities are still going up, although at least one mega-city project has been put "on hold" for the time being.

And if you've been put off by our government throwing its weight around by shutting down parks and monuments in the current shutdown, wait till you see how the Chinese government respects property "rights" that stand in the way of the development. Wow.

Now, at least one western investigator claims that in fact, these ghost cities are just future cities that are running slightly ahead of their occupancy...and that the people will come, and are coming. If he's correct, then it perhaps gives us some insight into how the Chinese government can justify the projects. Of course, issues of the efficiency and waste of this process make Western thinkers scratch our heads.

In the midst of all this "progress", it's not surprising that the world's largest building has just been completed and (apparently) occupied. But in a twist that just continues to make this whole story seem even more bizarre, the developer of the New Century Global Center in Chengdu has disappeared, following the last mayor of Chengdu into the mysterious realm of the missing.

One thing I'm not seeing in these videos is a lot of wood products or construction. I know it's there, since China has continued to grow its imports of North American lumber products. It's just dwarfed by the scale of and preference for concrete and glass. Somewhat like the America of the 1950's and 60's, the Chinese apparently see progress in shiny and sterile materials. I suspect they too, will grow out of that phase and back to the good things like wood.

But in the meantime, we will hold our breath with the Australians, hoping for the best in the face of apparent economic insanity.

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