Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Ancient Wisdom Trumps New Technology

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Not everything new is automatically better as Anupam Mishra proves in his TED talk given November 2009. In his talk, Mishra shares some wonderful examples of 400-year-old water harvesting architecture that's outpaced newer, more expensive projects in India.

India's Golden Desert receives only nine inches of water each year. Here, one can't simply use hand pumps. Water sits a staggering 300 feet down, but Jargah Fort, close to Jaipur, built four centuries ago manages to collect six million gallons in a season. It's a stark contrast to Indira Gandhi Canal, a modern project that cost millions, but is now in disrepair.

I was amazed at the results of this old technology and I think Mishra's research will prove even more useful, especially now when global warming is coming to affect much of our water supply. Even now, demand for the waters of the Colorado River, Southern California's main water supply, is outstripping supply. Soon, more cities dependent on the great river will have to figure out how to manage their water more responsibly.

I wonder too, what else have we gotten right? What "old wheels" can we still re-use to build a better, more efficient world?


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