Isobel Byrne (NCE 24/31 August ) is troubled by the construction boom in the Middle East and specically 'unsustainable cities' like Dubai.
Is it more sustainable to have a city like London where we need heating most of the year, or Dubai where we need airconditioning?
Dubai has sensibly used oil wealth to build a economy that relies on the manufacturing and service industries, and tourism. It has one of the fastest expanding airlines in the world and the sixth or seventh biggest port operator in the world. It is becoming a trading hub for this part of the Middle East. And with all this, oil is now a relatively small part of its economy.
Dubai's system is not perfect of course, but the stability, prosperity and tolerance of Dubai is, I feel, a good example to the Arab world. Dubai's trade and influence is already spreading around the region.
We should hope that continues as a counterbalance to negative inuences in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and to George Bush's dangerously flawed policies.
Building cities may not be sustainable, but it is a lot better than bombing them.
True sustainability can only be achieved when mankind can control its birthrate. Until then, cities will continue to grow and we are kidding ourselves if we think saving plastic bags will sustain the earth's environment.
Engineers should play our part in creating cities like Dubai, that are well planned, with policies that create a virtuous cycle of wealth, good education and, most importantly, low birth rates.
Charlie Scrimgeour (M), Charlie.S.Scrimgeour@uk.mwhglobal. com