The Housing Chronicles Blog: Sorry Mr. Trump, but your trophy buildings won't last forever

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sorry Mr. Trump, but your trophy buildings won't last forever

Unfortunately, for Donald Trump, the life expectancy of his buildings are limited without constant human intervention to keep them maintained (I hope I don't get fired for saying this!). This week The History Channel premiered a two-hour special entitled "Life Without People" (2-minute sneak peak in the video embedded below) that's loosely based on the recent best-selling book "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman (which, by the way would make a very unique birthday gift!).

Given that the time line for humans inhabiting the earth is a mere speck of its estimated age of 4.5 billion years, real estate development is a constant tug of war between nature and the need to house population growth. After all, even the staunchest environmentalist lives in a dwelling that required natural resources to construct and is located in what was once pristine wilderness, so there's always a tiny amount of hypocrisy involved with no-growthers (and I say that as a 7th-generation Californian). The show is a sobering and entertaining ride through future years without human beings -- one that I'm sure will be replayed several times this week on THC to maximize ad revenues. Still, as a 'guilty pleasure documentary,' it's certainly worth a look.

From a New York Times review:

From the opening montage of rising waters and falling buildings to the later image of the Hoover Dam giving way — the “last of the great collapses” — the film charts the disintegration of our infrastructure along a timeline that stretches from one day to 10,000 years after our disappearance.

The film tells this story with the breathless narration and low production values characteristic of History Channel offerings (is it really necessary to dis the History Channel? - ed.), but includes a lot of information — like the uncertain futures of both cockroaches and the family dog — as well as entertaining talking heads, several of whom share Mr. Weisman’s unspoken delight at the thought of an earth finally free of man’s dominion.

Convincing images of the world post-people are hard to come by without a budget of “I Am Legend” size of course. “Life After People” resorts to numerous digital animations of creeping vines and listing skyscrapers, and also travels to actual examples of abandoned human habitations to demonstrate what happens when we’re not around to paint and patch.

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