GENERAL WOLFE’S VIEWPOINT

I saw a German woman on the news say that nature is angry.
She stood beside the wreckage of her home as dirty brown torrent swept under a nearby bridge.
She is clearly devastated, as are thousands of people in Germany, Belgium, France and Holland.
Houses swept away, cars and lorries swept away, roads, motorways, railways, infrastructure all ripped up.
I understand how people can say that nature is angry, as if nature is a being.
One can walk this earth for decades, nature, not being sentient, behaves anarchically.
No matter how much we, as a species, might convince ourselves of our ability to control nature, or the weather, we find that to be a fallacy.
What we appear to be good at is continuously demonstrating a propensity to act without thought of consequences, especially where the well being of the planet is concerned.
As the heat waves rage, rather than question our own actions, humans rush to buy air conditioning units, ever bigger refrigeration cabinets with built in ice makers and smart chips to inform us when we are running low on produce.
On a macro level politicians and developers prance around implementing dreamscapes from the misguided minds of ambitious 20th Century mindset architects and planners, designed for a vision of society that ultimately is destructive in a myriad of ways.
We need to move on from concrete and glass phallic symbols lancing cityscape skies as legacies of power obsessed, careerist, oligarchs.
The production of concrete is, in itself, a process that is responsible for 7.5% of global warming. And yet this “miracle” product is the go to material for projects large and small across the planet.
When I look back sixty five years to that time when I, as a ten year old boy, first looked at The Queens House and The Royal Maritime Museum from outside the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich Park, it stood alone and majestic against a backdrop of low level London. Now the legacy to Thatcherism monstrosity that is the Canary Wharf development defiles that view in an act of pure vandalism that is hard to surpass. The more time that passes the more jaded that whole area looks. It is a crime against aesthetic beauty. Concrete junkie architects are, even now, designing ever more paens to brutalism in cities across the planet. Prizes are offered for the most innovative use of concrete. The production of cement is helping to destroy the planet through contributing towards global warming, but it is also responsible for some of the most hideous buildings in history, and this rotten Tory government wants to make such development even easier to implement by relaxing planning rules and regulations.
I won’t be here in sixty years time, but I dread to imagine what the view from the foot of General Wolfe’s Statue in Greenwich Park will look like then.

Harry Rogers, In The Yellow Room, 5th August 2021.

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