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Construction Industry in Transition The Uncomfortable Megatrends Everyone Should Know

Eterra Group - Megatrends

Poetry and Grandeur – The Earth’s Self-Cleansing Power from Cal Flynn’s Perspective, a Book Review by Sven Bading, Magdeburg

Nobody likes to talk about it, but megatrends such as environmental destruction and overpopulation particularly affect the construction industry. Few people know, for example, that half of all waste in the Federal Republic of Germany is generated by construction activities. It is also forgotten that until a few years ago, the economy believed that air, water, and earth were free goods that had no price. The influence of humans on the world has become so strong in the last 50 years that fears and guilt shape the consciousness of the population. The anthropocentric worldview is considered a fall from grace. The power of this movement is so strong that some South American countries are now changing their constitutions to prioritize the Earth itself rather than humans. Humans are the downfall of the world. Unrecognized, however, is the Earth’s self-cleansing power, which is greatly underestimated. A voice rises quietly in the form of a work. A powerful and poetic Cal Flynn’s „Abandoned Places: Ends and Beginnings in an Uninhabited World“ takes us on a journey through a world that was once dominated by humans but is now left to nature. Flynn, a young Scottish author, embarks on a literary journey to 13 abandoned places around the world to explore how these places have changed in the absence of humans and what they can teach us about our relationship to nature and our impact on the environment.

Insights into „Abandoned Places“

It is not the abstraction of thoughts but the practical example that makes the work so strong and memorable. The selection of places alone demonstrates the grandeur of the examples – who knows, for example:

  1. Inchkeith, Scotland: Once a quarantine island for syphilis patients, the Scottish island of Inchkeith is now uninhabited but populated by birds. Flynn’s description of the tunnels on the island, filled with the remains of seagulls and rabbits, illustrates the rugged return of nature to places that were once dominated by humans.
  2. Zone Rouge, Verdun: Here, on the battlefields of World War I, Flyn discovers plants that extract toxic metals from the soil as a form of self-defense and adaptation to an environment poisoned by human hands. An example of this is the nickel tree in New Caledonia, whose sap is rich in nickel.
  3. Detroit, USA: Flyn describes how the deindustrialization of Detroit has led to urban decay and an increase in crime, known as the „Glasgow effect“ – a higher mortality rate in deindustrialized cities due to urban renewal and low morals.
  4. Arthur Kill, New Jersey: This area, once home to oil refineries and chemical plants, is now contaminated with toxic chemicals. Flyn highlights how the animal kingdom has adapted to these conditions, for example, killifish that have developed high resistance to industrial waste.
  5. Slab City, California: Flyn describes this place as a kind of post-apocalyptic society composed of remnants of a lost civilization. Slab City serves as a warning and an example in her book, showing what our world could become in the future.

Powerful Examples of Human Trade and its Consequences

The author, Flyn, refrains from romanticizing human-made environmental disasters. Instead, she draws „belief in the possibility of change“ from the presence of flora and fauna and emphasizes the need for human efforts to bring about positive change. Her book is a blend of information and poetry, highlighting both the destructive actions of humans and the resurgence of life. Her own reserved way of life makes the author entirely unassailable. It becomes clear that precise observation and a change in perspective inspire thoughts. It becomes evident that nature is a reactive and powerful force that can adapt and thrive in the most human-affected landscapes.

Abandoned Places - Endings and Beginnings in a Deserted World (Author Cal Flyn, Judith Schalanski)

Since the beginnings of human thought, the beginning of philosophy applies: Panta rhei – everything flows

Flynn’s work is not only an exploration of abandoned places, but also a reflection on human influence on the environment and the astonishing ability of nature to recover from human interventions. It is a story of redemption, showing how the most polluted places on Earth can be rehabilitated through ecological processes, though not thanks to humans. In „Abandoned Places,“ humans appear as both perpetrators and victims in the history of the Earth, while nature emerges as a reactive and powerful force. The work is comforting, simultaneously loving of humans and taking responsibility, which is evident to those who read the work.

Author: Sven Bading

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Discussed Work: Abandoned Places. Ends and Beginnings in an Uninhabited World. 340 pages, EPUB. Translation by Milena Adam. Price: 24.99 €, published in the NATURKUNDEN Nº 100 series edited by Judith Schalansky at Verlag Matthes & Seitz Berlin, author Cal Flyn, Scotland.

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