Envisionthe Sustainable City
Igrew up in Dubai. Back then, Dubai was very different from what it istoday. The opulent shopping malls and skyscrapers it is known forwhere not there. Instead, what I remember is a small number ofbuildings and roads that were very dusty. Sheikh Zayed Road which isnow one of the prime roads in Dubai in those days did not havetraffic jams. I went to a school that was 10 minutes away from home.I remember walking to school and loving the sound of birds chirpingand the wave of fresh air hitting my nostrils. My walks to schoolmade me fall in love with nature, and I am still in awe of thenatural beauty of our environment.
WhenI was growing up, I used to spend a lot of time with friends andfamily members or playing Atari when I was not in school. We rarelyleft Arabian Ranches to visit other places apart from the time wewere visiting relatives during the holidays. Back then, we used tomove around either by bus or train. I loved the train rides becauseof the amazing things I saw on the way. While growing up in Dubai, itwas usual to walk to most destinations. This is something that haschanged significantly. Today, there are a lot of cars in the area,especially because there are no direct taxes on vehicles there. Thevehicles release air pollutants.
Visionof a sustainable neighborhood
Ienvision a neighborhood where there are a lot of parks and fewerbuildings and homes. The streets are spacious, and there are morebicycles than cars. I would love to see initiatives by the localgovernment to harvest water. The water will cater for over 50% of ourdemand. In my vision, people no longer use water-dependent toilets.Since Dubai is located in a dry area, water will be meant only fornecessary uses and chores such as washing dishes. All the rooftops inthe neighborhood are designed with solar shingles to provideelectricity to most homesteads. This will make the environment safethrough the reduction of waste from fossil fuels. I would love to seesmall farms in every home instead of the lawns. This will increasethe production and consumption of traditional foods while minimizingthe use of processed foods. The sustainable city will be incompletewithout planted forests and other vegetation. In the modern Dubai,people are for themselves and give little attention to theirneighbors. I envision a city when people have more social interactionand care for one another. The interaction will play a major role invigilance and crime prevention. It will also enable neighbors toshare ideas and experiences. The society I envision values educationand creating awareness about environmental preservation.
Severalthings make this neighborhood sustainable. They include education,use of natural resources such as solar energy, reduction in burningof fossil fuels through the use of bicycles, water conservation,utilizing of available land for farming and reduction in the use ofplastic. This idea is achievable because everything outlined in thisvision is feasible. We can focus on using natural energy, avoidwasting water, restrict short distance destinations to bicycle ridesand transform our lawns into farms to reduced dependence on processedfoods.
Growingup in Dubai has affected my vision of the future and how I choose tolive my life today. When I was growing up, there weren’t so manycars, and we would walk to most destinations near our home. We werealso surrounded by a lot of trees and the climatic seasons did notfluctuate as much as they do today. With the growth of the economyand more and more people moving to Dubai, this changed. Most of thetrees were cut down to create more space for settlement, industriesand vehicles increased and with this came a lot of air pollution.Plastic use and other practices that are not environment-friendlyalso came up. All these factors are not in line with environmentalsustainability. Considering what Dubai is today, I have a lot ofappreciation for what it used to be like back in the days. I findmyself trying to create such an environment for myself by doing smallthings like avoiding wastage of water, use solar energy, ride toschool on a bicycle, recycling plastic, among others. I have hopethat in the future that there will be efforts aimed at preserving andattaining a sustainable environment.
Humanvalues come into play when people think about sustainability. This isbecause human values are what we use when making judgments aboutactions or making decisions. Since human beings act and behaveaccording to their culture, they will attach value to various thingsthey consider important for their lives and well-being. The valuethey attach is what determines the decision of what is wrong orright. The value position of different individuals varies due totheir culture and how they were brought up. For example, some personput much priority on shelter and would clear a portion of a forest inorder to erect their houses and cultivate crops. In most cases,someone raised in developed areas, on the other hand, would not seethis as the right thing to do because they associate cutting downtrees with a lot of carbon emissions which might lead toenvironmental destruction.
Individualswho assign a lot of value to things of human interests are morelikely to use natural resources to meet human needs because they seethe natural resources as items to be used for this purpose (Brennan,1). On the other hand, individuals who do not place a lot of value onhuman interests are more likely to engage in activities that helppreserve the environment. This is something that has made it quitedifficult to solve most of the environmental problems facing theworld today.
Theplace where we are raised up determines how we perceive how asustainable city should look like. The society and parents also havesignificant influence in our decisions we make about which town tolive. The life experiences of a person greatly affect his/herperspective of not only environmental sustainability but also of whatis wrong or right. This is one of the main reasons why efforts tomake changes in environmental sustainability have not been successfulin most parts of the world. Sustainability is a reality when thereare enabling factors such as values.
Brennan,Andrew and Lo, Yeuk-Sze, "Environmental Ethics," TheStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-environmental/