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What Infrastructure Projects Would Benefit Humanity, Surpassing Their Respective Country's Borders?

Updated: May 2, 2023


Introduction

The importance of infrastructure projects cannot be overstated, as they significantly impact the development of any society. Whether undertaken by the public or private sector, these projects require meticulous planning and consideration of the human and economic factors involved. Infrastructure projects provide economic benefits by creating jobs, boosting production, and increasing economic growth while improving access to basic necessities such as food, water, healthcare, and education. These also enhance public safety through the use of disaster-resistant buildings, flood barriers, and early warning systems.


Additionally, incorporating sustainable design and construction techniques in infrastructure projects can reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change effects. These projects also drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and social development, providing new opportunities with emerging technologies like high-speed internet and smart transportation systems. Therefore, infrastructure projects are crucial to saving humanity by facilitating access to basic needs, promoting economic growth, improving public safety, encouraging sustainable development, and driving innovation.

 

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Top 10 Infrastructure Projects Benefitting Humanity


Several infrastructure projects benefit humanity as a whole and transcend national borders, as they have a global impact. Here are a few examples:


  • International Space Station (ISS): The ISS is a collaborative project between multiple countries, including the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan. It is a research laboratory in space and serves as a platform for scientific experiments and technological developments that benefit humanity as a whole. It provides a unique opportunity for international collaboration and cooperation in space exploration and research. This collaboration with other nations can provide access to useful extra expertise, shared costs, and the pursuit of complementary lines of effort, all of which serve to eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts in the scientific and technological areas. From one end to the other, the space station stretches for 109 meters (356 feet), or about the length of an American football pitch minus one yard for the end zones.


Fig 1: International Space Station

Courtesy: NASA


  • Large Hadron Collider (LHC): The LHC is a particle accelerator located at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. It is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator and is used to study the fundamental building blocks of matter. The collider is located in a circular tube that is 50 to 175 meters (164 to 574 ft) below the earth. The discoveries made at the LHC have global implications, including the potential to improve medical imaging and cancer treatments.


Fig 2: Large Hadron Collider

Courtesy: CERN


  • The Suez Canal: Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas, allowing for efficient shipping routes between Europe and Asia. The Suez Canal was 200–300 ft wide at the top, 72 feet wide at the bottom, and 25 feet deep when it was opened for shipping. Until it was built, ships bound for Asia had to make the long trek around Africa's Cape of Good Hope.


Fig 3: Suez Canal

Courtesy: Encyclopedia Britannica


  • Global Seed Vault: The Global Seed Vault is a secure facility located on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway. It serves as a backup storage facility for the world's seeds and is designed to protect the world's biodiversity and food security. The average length of a seed room is 27 meters (88.6 ft).


Fig 4: Global Seed Vault

Courtesy: Smithsonian Magazine


  • Panama Canal: The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, providing a crucial shipping route for goods between the east and west coasts of the Americas. The canal allows ships to bypass the long and dangerous journey around South America's southern tip, reducing shipping time and costs, increasing efficiency, and boosting economic growth and development for countries worldwide. It is around 82 kilometers (2,69,029 ft) long, and the average depth through the Gaillard (Culebra) Cut is 13 meters (43 ft). Furthermore, the canal has contributed to the development of Panama's infrastructure, including ports, railways, and highways, allowing for improved connectivity within the country and to other countries in the region.


Fig 5: Panama Canal

Courtesy: World Atlas


  • The Mekong River Commission: The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernmental organization that manages the Mekong River's resources, providing clean water for drinking, irrigation, and power generation, benefiting millions of people across Southeast Asia. However, climate change is affecting the Lower Mekong River Basin, which includes Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Thailand, and Vietnam, posing a risk to ecosystems, economic growth, long-term viability, and social stability. The region faces challenges such as dangerous navigation, increased costs to preserve coastal infrastructure, and threats to roads and water supply infrastructure due to heavier rainfall, flooding, and landslides. The river basin is the tenth largest in the world.


Fig 6: Mekong River Commission

Courtesy: Mekong River Commission


  • The Channel Tunnel: The Channel Tunnel connects the United Kingdom and France, providing a direct link for trade and transportation across the English Channel. Travel time between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe has been drastically reduced because of the Channel Tunnel. Before the tunnel was built, traveling from London to Paris by train and ferry took about six or seven hours. The same trip on a train may now be made in two and a half hours. The tunnel is now an extremely important piece of infrastructure for moving people, goods, and services. A service tunnel, 4.8 metres (15 ft 9 in) in diameter, connects the two train tunnels, which are 7.6 metres (24 ft 11 in) in diameter, 30 metres (98 ft) apart, and 50 kilometres (31 km) in length. Massive quantities of chalk were removed by the TBMs. Crushed chalk was combined with water and sent inland behind a 37-meter-tall dam in France. In order to make a landscaped platform at the base of Shakespeare Cliffs near Dover, engineers on the British side exploited the chalk.


Fig 7: The Channel Tunnel

Courtesy: CNN


  • The Three Gorges Dam: Located in China, the Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest hydroelectric power station, providing clean energy to millions of people across the country. It has a height of roughly 181 meters (594 feet) and a length of roughly 2,335 meters (7,770 feet). However, not everyone was in favor of the project, despite claims that it would prevent catastrophic floods along the Yangtze, improve inland trade, and supply central China with much-needed electricity.


Fig 8: Three Gorges Dam

Courtesy: France 24


  • The Transcontinental Railroad: Completed in the late 1800s, the Transcontinental Railroad in the United States connected the East and West coasts, facilitating the movement of goods, services, and people across the country and contributing to the economic growth and development of the nation. The railway, which covered over 2,000 miles between Iowa, Nebraska, and California, drastically shortened the time to reach the West from around six months to only four. Once the track was finished, it only took a week to cross the United States, a time savings of several months. With a direct route between the two coastlines, Western economies could more easily sell their products in Eastern markets.


Fig 9: Transcontinental Railroad

Courtesy: BBC


  • The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge: The world's longest sea-crossing bridge, connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macau, facilitating trade and transportation across the Pearl River Delta. The total length of the sea bridge, including access roads, is 55 kilometers (1,80,446 ft), making it the longest in the world. The bridge's goals were to provide a new land transport link between the east and west banks of the Pearl River to accommodate the growing demand for passenger and freight land transport between Hong Kong, the mainland (especially the region of Pearl River West), and Macau, and to contribute to the prosperous and environmentally responsible growth of all three cities.


Fig 10: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Courtesy: DW


Conclusion

Infrastructure projects can have a significant impact on the development and progress of nations. However, it is essential to carefully consider the costs and benefits of such projects and ensure that they are implemented in a sustainable, environmentally responsible, and equitable way. Governments must prioritize the needs of their citizens and communities, ensuring that infrastructure projects benefit everyone, not just a privileged few.


References

  • https://earth.esa.int/web/earth-watching/image-of-the-week/content/-/article/hong-kong-zhuhai-macau-bridge/index.html#:~:text=The%20functions%20of%20the%20bridge,enhance%20the%20economic%20and%20sustainable

  • https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/transcontinental-railroad

  • https://www.britannica.com/topic/Three-Gorges-Dam

  • https://www.ice.org.uk/what-is-civil-engineering/what-do-civil-engineers-do/the-channel-tunnel#:~:text=The%20Channel%20Tunnel%20has%20cut,same%20journey%20in%202.5%20hours.

  • https://www.mrcmekong.org/our-work/topics/climate-change/

  • https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2019/07/22/how-the-panama-canal-reshaped-the-economic-geography-of-the-united-states/

  • https://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/international-cooperation-and-continuing-exploration-space

  • https://www.marineinsight.com/maritime-history/a-brief-history-of-the-suez-canal/



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