Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Film 4 - The History Channel - Life after people

Question: How did we get this way?


  1. This film is explaining how life could be after the eradication of the human beings. They are describing that humans by delivered actions are causing their own destruction. This hypothetical case is done with cities in the United States, but it is presenting case studies from other countries and situations through history. This analysis reveals good information that helps them predict the behavior of buildings, neighborhoods and cities.

    This film goes from the 1st day to 10,000 years after humans abandoned the planet. In this time line the narrator is organizing the events so that we can have a clear understanding of the progress in the context. It is really interesting to me how they approach the situation as if it was an equation that they are only removing the human being as factor, and leaving everything else follow their own life cycle.

    It seems to me that some situations that they are narrating are not completely explained. For a moment feels like the humans are just removed, and all we have done to the planet collapses, not affecting the rest of cycles where we are playing an important role.

    For instance, they mentioned that nuclear power plants will melt down, but they are not explain further how is that going to affect life around this chaos; nor the effects of the chemicals, gases and all that is involved in a catastrophe of this scale.

    As Anna Marshall-Baker explained, it would be like if humans stopped giving maintenance to everything we know and use; but how can a society survive without using any resources? They also mentioned for example, how animals will survive and reproduce themselves; but I think they are not mentioning that what a generation of these animals knew as rules, new generations won’t recognize or be affected by the absence of it. New generations will adapt to the new conditions and go from there to survive.
    Also it is an interesting approach saying that nature will bring species to a cleaver level, and develop for instance, the use of tools. But this level of intelligence won’t be enough to be rational about situations of particular conditions. For example, they are stating that contemplation as an activity won’t happen because; life will only exist and won’t have a further development or understanding over complex concepts.

    They finish with the concept of life existing before us human beings and life will exist after us. I think it is a good film but I don’t really think that all the concepts expressed were deeply developed.

  2. I agree with Claudia that there were many things in the film that were not addressed adequately, such as what effect our nuclear contributions will have on Earth when we are gone. I always get a bit annoyed at the overly dramatic and repetitive style that the film used. Maybe I've just watched the History Channel and NatGeo too much. But I do appreciate what the film was attempting to accomplish and agree that our humancentric (is that a word?) attitudes have to change.

    Speaking of change, I have been encouraged by the discussions about how to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. It is wonderful that the unsustainable practices that have been used to maintain the shoreline are being challenged. This is an atypical situation in that good decisions might be made because of economic factors. No one wants to pay the bill for a select few to maintain their nice view of the ocean.

    I read an interesting article called the Zero Waste Home. These people are amazing. They do not need for trash to be pickup up from their home and feel guilty about the small amount of recyclables that they produce. I am not ready to be this responsible yet, but they have some great advice that I can use. Here is a link to the tip page on their blog:

  3. Though I agree with Susan that the overly dramatic style of cinematography used in this film was somewhat irritating, my initial thoughts on the images personifying this post human world were quite beautiful. I think my reaction to the movie might have been quite different from a lot of other peoples in that I didn’t find the images of cities burning and falling to the ground frightening at all. In fact, I found myself feeling almost at peace as I watched nature take back its hold on the planet. It felt right for the earth to melt the city and all of our damage back into the ground that we have imposed on it for so many years- replacing damage with new life. Just like at Chernobyl, Nature shows us its great power to concur the massive challenge of mending the wounds that humans brand onto and carve out of the landscape- extracting without replenishing the very earth that provides these resources for us to use. This relationship that humans have developed with the earth is am abusive one, one that is simultaneously harmful to, and dependent upon the victim (earth). “We have over time strangely treated the oceans as both a pantry and a toilet.” As Anna pointed out to us… “The earth has survived 7 extinctions,” it’s up to us to figure out how to change our abusive relationship to one of mutual respect and admiration if we don’t want to become the eighth. The earth will live on with or without us.

  4. I had a very different reaction from Kelly; I was very disturbed by this movie. As upset as I am with the impact the human race has had on the balance of nature, I’m not prepare to see what it built crumble and decay. I have too much respect for the technology and the built environment. Even though I’m afraid of heights, and cannot stand to be in a skyscraper, I appreciate the beauty of the structure from afar. When I drive home to New York, I take the Verrazano Bridge to Long Island. As most people drive over the bridge they glance upstream to capture a vision of the Manhattan skyline, not me, I’m staring at the integration of the suspended bridge. What an engineering feat that is! As many times as I drive over it I’m still in awe of that structure.

    Before I came to UNCG, for several years I worked in the engineering profession. There is nothing like working collectively with team members on a major project, and seeing the fruits of your labor become reality. One of my past colleagues, a mechanical engineer, was involved with the project that landed on Mars! From a blank piece of paper we create. Not everyone can do that, especially the bean counters! Often I’ve been put in a position where I can change the course of a project. In business it’s a tough struggle between the best design and the cost of the design. To remain competitive upper management’s desire is to always cut corners and expect you to produce the results. They don’t care if it’s the best design, only can they sell your idea and make a profit. As a designer you must maintain your integrity first. We have a responsibility to change nature and mankind. There has to be a balance. The more we learn about better technologies, better processes, more environmentally friendly products to weave into our designs, the better our impact will be on society as a whole. That is our role in life, we’ve chosen in, we love it, and in our small way, we must bring about the change society needs.

  5. This movie has a sad theme. If this story becomes true one day, the earth that we are leaving after us is not a very pleasant place. Although, nature will flourish and heal after several years, but as we see in this movie, earth without human being to maintain the structures is so frightening and ugly. The fact that it takes a long time for nature to cover and resolve all the human made things, is simultaneously releasing and depressing. It makes me happy when it shows in the movie that life will continue without us and nature will reshape itself and repair the damages and changes that we made over time, but on the other hand, this removing of what we may leave after us will happen to our cultural and civilization heritage, nature will destroy the evidence of our existence on this planet and it is depressing and heartbreaking. In my opinion the fact that nature will melt the changes, is very essential and it is just the matter of time. By producing and building and changing more and more, we don’t let the nature does its role of reviving and recycling. So this is not the nature that discard the society it is the human being that by his/her way of life ruins everything and jeopardizes his/her existence on this planet.
    The other point that gives me new thing to think about is the concept of “maintenance”. Our effect on the nature is not just about making and producing, it is the cost and influence that maintaining these productions have on earth. As it shows in this movie, a huge problem in our current life is finding solutions to reduce the effect of nature on man-made constructions. So, as a designer we can’t just think about sustainable solutions to create spaces, we have to consider and be aware of maintenance problems and costs and their effect on the nature.