There are all kinds of air control in the world. It’s a part of shelter, so much as anything else is. We have to protect our air and keep it safe for us, lest we suffer too much in the future. From the humble gas furnace to the HVAC service to the air conditioning unit to the normal heating system, there are all sorts of ways to control the type and flow of air that you get. But what if you could think bigger than that? What if large scale urban areas and other areas needed their supply of air and all of their air flow regulated? It’s an intriguing question and not one that is wholly without precedent. For instance, in the past century there were many people who dreamed of, or even planned, theoretical cities that would be entirely enclosed and protected. The advantages of these hypothetical cities would have been numerous, not the least of which would be that they would have their own internal weather and sturdy politics. Of course, they’d need more than an air conditioning unit to run these cities. Walt Disney, for instance, planned such a city to be the center of his enormous theme park, though it never quite came to pass. Let’s take a look at some of these ideas in more detail, shall we? So that we can better understand some of the weird and wonderful ways we might need to control air in the future.
- Going up and going down
We often think of the future as ascendant rather than descendant and there’s really no clear reason why. After all, just because you can go in one direction doesn’t mean you can’t go in the other. And there’s advantage to both as well, even if you have to take your air conditioning unit with you. As we continue to inhabit every corner of this planet, there’s no reason why we can’t start to inhabit every corner inside this planet as well. There have been people dreaming of underground cities for years and, honestly, there have been people actually living in underground cities for way longer. Some of the earliest cities in the world, or what can be considered cities at least, were located partially underground. In hot areas, this is an expert way to beat the heat and stay out of the sun during the most brutal parts of the day. By letting in precise amounts of sunlight and energy at the right times, these ancient peoples could even grow crops in partial darkness and live where it was most comfortable while staying protected from other warring tribes and even some warring animals. Sure they didn’t exactly have the air conditioning unit with them but they made due and made their own. So it makes sense we might replicate this design in the future.
The future becomes the past
So what would replicating this type of design for our more modern cities mean, exactly? That’s an interesting question and not one with any easy answers. But, rest assured, they are all interesting answers. First, our modern cities require an immense amount of power that mostly comes from gas. To have a city with constantly recycled air and light, we would have to invest incredibly heavily in renewable energy. Secondly, well, perhaps it should be more firstly, there is the air problem in general. A city that was located underground, perhaps by desire or perhaps by necessity for survival from meteor impact or climate change, would need to either have its population restricted or its air and water heavily monitored and cleaned. If the city is partially open to the outside, by, say, an artificially enlarged opening then the airflow might be ok. But to take our modern vehicles into a completely enclosed space? That’s going to require serious air conditioning and air quality control beyond the scope of the simple air conditioning unit. That’s going to require nano scale filters and some constantly charged screens that filter out dust, dirt, pollutants and debris. It is possible, of course, but the amount of energy it would take is immense. But we might need it and it’s worth considering.