Housing Starts

Human numbers are exponentially increasing. Our impact on the world shows the effect as buildings and roads replace trees and glades. “Housing starts” is an excellent indicator of our impact. This indicator quantifies the number of new homes being built. While more houses entail more jobs for construction workers and manufacturers, each new one means less for nature.

Houses are artificial, miniature worlds. We install in them automatic climate control, robust security and on-demand entertainment. While its windows allow us to view the natural world, we purposefully build houses to prevent the natural world from entering. And sometimes, such as during a pandemic, we purposefully don’t even exit our house. As if the natural world was no longer relevant to us in our homes.

Each year well over 20 million houses are started. Each house replaces the natural land cover. Each house requires large amounts of energy during its construction and its operation. Each house needs replacing, usually in 50 to 100 years. With world population growing to well over 10 billion can we afford to keep starting houses? At what cost will we maintain all these houses?