Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Reopened October 2019 - includes archived threads from pre-2019

Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby Serpent on March 25th, 2021, 12:58 pm 

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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby TheVat on March 25th, 2021, 3:54 pm 

Thought provoking topic. Will come back when I've considered some of your examples. I know Howard Hughes flying boat, the misnomered "Spruce Goose" was the largest wooden airplane and only flew once and very briefly. A former pilot tells me bigger is usually safer with planes, as they handle turbulence better, but am not sure how far one can go with that.

The Burj Khalifa tower seems to continue a tradition that goes back to Chartres and the pyramids, of seeing how high one can build. Arthur Clarke's space elevator concept would sort of parallel all that, if materials science can render cables strong enough. Not a building exactly but a tall structure for sure.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby toucana on March 25th, 2021, 4:06 pm 

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A Cruise Liner in Venice

This image of a cruise liner in Venice which I saw recently online came to mind. It was cited in a Reddit thread about Megalophobia.

https://www.reddit.com/r/megalophobia/comments/br9prs/a_cruise_ship_in_venice/

There was some discussion in that thread as to whether the image was PS, or simply a telephoto zoom artefact. As it happens I think the Venice authorities banned large cruise liners coming this close not long after this was taken. (Pre-pandemic too of course).
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby Serpent on March 25th, 2021, 4:29 pm 

megalophobia
Yes, I think I maybe have that.
The very large airplanes may be safer than small ones as to stability and strength, but along with the size come layers and layers of complexity, so that the pilot doesn't know - cannot possibly, humanly know - everything that can go wrong in all possible conditions. Also, because the owners tend to have a degree of hubris, simply from owning such big, impressive machinery, plus, the things are so expensive to operate, every minute's delay make the $$-counters squeal, they're less careful about sending them up in bad weather. But the really significant thing is: when they do crash, they usually kill everyone on board, and there are a lot of people on board.
(I know this from watching old Mayday episodes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayday_(Canadian_TV_series) which, of course, is what prompted the question)

As to the buildings, I can think of many reasons not to be in one.
The horrible floating (and occasionally sinking) hotels, not even tempted: they looked horrible to me even before the pandemic stranded them in foreign ports for weeks.
I love that picture, Toucana! It actually looks a lot like the one that keeled over.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby charon on March 25th, 2021, 6:59 pm 

It's a sign of immaturity. When you think something needs to be BIG to be any good, you've lost it.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby toucana on March 25th, 2021, 8:54 pm 

Image

This 400m long giant container ship currently jammed sideways across the Suez canal provides another topical example.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/24/how-a-container-ship-blocked-the-suez-canal-visual-guide

The Suez canal which is one of the most important arterial waterways in the world could be blocked for weeks according to Dutch salvage experts. It is said that the ship's crew lost control during a sudden sandstorm. With over 150 vessels currently caught up in an epic shipping jam, this could cost billions.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby Serpent on March 25th, 2021, 9:41 pm 

Yep. That's the item with which I started. The thing is just too ridiculously BIG! And what is it carrying? Toilet seats (Canada ships lumber to China, where it's made into household products and shipped back.) Plastic toys for Happy Meals? Maybe even something somebody wants and needs... but nothing that could not have been made in the country of destination.
There are 200 more of them waiting... and thousands more on the oceans, polluting the air and water; driving the whales to suicide, demanding ever larger swathes of seafront to trash. This one carries 20,000 (twenty thousand) of those huge containers piled up in every sea-port in the world,https://www.shiphub.co/top-20-seaports-in-the-world/ and riding trains and plopped down in the parking lots of big box stores - with no homeless people allowed to take shelter in them.
The sheer scale of the craziness is hard to take in.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby TheVat on March 26th, 2021, 11:00 am 

We have container ships because businesses find advantage in ending production in their home countries and starting it where labor laws are more lax, wages lower, and it's easier to pass bribes or find loopholes in pollution regulations if your operation makes a mess. The size of the ships is driven by pure economics of scale, just as it is with jumbo jets moving herds of people. Container ships have cut shipping costs by something like 20 times, per one article I read, which will post if I can find.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby charon on March 26th, 2021, 11:08 am 

Serpent » March 26th, 2021, 2:41 am wrote:The sheer scale of the craziness is hard to take in.


That's right. Big = more = money = more = big = etc.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby TheVat on March 26th, 2021, 1:16 pm 

The size, with ships, has to do with not just the fuel burned per tonnage (which does drop with the behemoth boat), but also the cost of trained crew. A ship that is twenty times larger will not require twenty times as many crew members to operate and navigate. The container also eliminates huge costs of loading and unloading, because it is "intermodal transport," i.e. it can go from the factory to a truck, to a ship, back to a truck, or maybe dropped on a rail flatbed and then offloaded to another truck, and then to a retail store. You don't need a bunch of hands on deck at the port to unload, just a giant crane run by one person to take it off the deck and plop it onto its next vehicle.

One of the complaints I've heard about this method of transport (aside from this week's glaring problem of running such monsters through a single-lane canal) is that it has high startup costs for developing countries, because such countries have a good labor supply but a poor cash supply. It's harder for them to retrofit their ports and put shipyards into high gear shipbuilding. It's like asking a poor nation to build a spaceport and orbital rockets so they can join in the growing trade with the Martian colony. So they either have to depend on adjacent nations that have container-ready seaports, or run a huge deficit to get started in the container game.

One of the dumbest aspects IMO of all of this is countries that ship raw materials to another country, which then adds value to those materials by turning them into a consumable product, and then ships that product back to the first country. This hurts the first country, as it impedes the development of a "value added" economy, where they can reap the full value of the raw material they have by keeping it there and turning it into goods. And it's also wasteful of the fossil fuels that are used in the back-and-forth transport.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby Serpent on March 26th, 2021, 2:42 pm 

Canada is just such a 'resource' based economy. It's not that we can't produce the things we need - in fact, we used to produce pretty much everything, just as the US did. It's that Canadian workers joined unions and demanded higher wages, better safety/working conditions and more leisure time - and there are only so many waves of new immigrants who can be relied-on for cheap and uncomplaining labour. We still have migrants to produce our food.
So, the manufacturers moved their factories to Mexico, then Indonesia, then China, "job-creating" as they trashed one landscape after another, leaving armies of unemployed, ghost-towns and industrial middens behind.
In return, we have a booming real estate market for the beneficiaries of all those bribes in the recently industrialized nations.
I have to wonder how long before the returns diminish below sustainability



More to the point, are we every likely to wrest control of our urban spaces, provisions and transportation from the insane megarich?
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby TheVat on March 29th, 2021, 11:16 am 

https://apnews.com/

The cargo leviathan has been freed.

Yes, it's a good question, as to how the long serpentine supply chains (if we may call them artefacts) destabilize economies and reduce the flexibility at a more local level to disruption. I see high population densities in some nations as another way people live always a few steps away from catastrophe -- nations like Japan or the UK which cannot feed themselves with just their own arable land. Too many people, not enough acres. Several desert nations, in the Middle East, also face this problem.
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby Serpent on March 29th, 2021, 12:12 pm 

The food problem can only get worse, with loss of glaciers and dammed rivers -
oh, yes, those are some crazy maga-structures
https://www.cnn.com/style/article/china-three-gorges-dam-intl-hnk-dst/index.html
drying up land, flooding land, changing the landscape so that nobody knows what will happen to the land.... Besides the forests we're burning up and the wetlands we're poisoning to extract more fuel to transport around the world for more oversized vehicles to carry more pollutants around the world....
I hear there are live animals on some of those damn barges, and they ran out of food days ago. The scale of suffering is beyond the ordinary imagination to take in.
Some of the ships are bringing building materials, pulp and paper -- to Canada!!

But will this little financial setback discourage the shipping companies any more than the gulf spill discouraged the oil drillers?
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Re: Have artefacts reached the limits of growth?

Postby toucana on April 1st, 2021, 8:43 pm 

Image
The MSC Magnifica near St Mark's Square in Venice's basin

Venice has finally banned cruise liners and other large vessels from the inner lagoon with immediate effect as of Wednesday.

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/venice-cruise-ship-ban/index.html

In a statement released to Reuters, the government said that it wanted to "reconcile the needs to protect the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Venice and its lagoon with those related to cruise activity and goods traffic."

Dario Franceschini, Italy's minister of culture, tweeted that it was the "correct decision, and one that had been waited for for years." He added that UNESCO has called for this in the past.

"Anyone who has visited Venice in recent years has been shocked to see these ships, hundreds of meters long and as tall as apartment buildings, passing through such fragile places," he said following the vote.

Previously, the authorities had agreed to reroute large ships away from the basin of St Mark's and the Giudecca Canal -- where the ships are just meters away from the city center -- but to have them dock in Marghera.

This wasn't enough for campaigners, however, who say that the very presence of large ships in the lagoon is destroying the environment.

The succession of major floods in recent years has been attributed in part to global warming, but in part, some say, to the erosion of the lagoon.
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