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Millions In China Live In Energy Efficient Caves

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the cave-sweet-cave dept.

Earth 210

Hugh Pickens writes "Barbara Demick reports in the LA Times that more than 30 million Chinese people live in caves, many of them in Shaanxi province, where the Loess plateau, with its distinctive cliffs of yellow, porous soil, makes digging easy and cave dwelling a reasonable option. The better caves protrude from mountains and are reinforced with brick masonry. Some are connected laterally so a family can have several chambers. Electricity and even running water can be brought in. 'Most aren't so fancy, but I've seen some really beautiful caves: high ceilings and spacious with a nice yard out front where you can exercise and sit in the sun,' says Ren, who works as a driver in the Shaanxi provincial capital, Xian. 'It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's quiet and safe.' In recent years, architects have been reappraising the cave in environmental terms, and they like what they see. 'It is energy efficient. The farmers can save their arable land for planting if they build their houses in the slope. It doesn't take much money or skill to build,' says Liu Jiaping, director of the Green Architecture Research Center in Xian and perhaps the leading expert on cave living. Liu helped design and develop a modernized version of traditional cave dwellings that in 2006 was a finalist for a World Habitat Award, sponsored by a British foundation dedicated to sustainable housing. Meanwhile, a thriving market around Yanan means a cave with three rooms and a bathroom (a total of 750 square feet) can be advertised for sale at $46,000. 'Life is easy and comfortable here. I don't need to climb stairs. I have everything I need,' says 76-year-old Ma Liangshui. 'I've lived all my life in caves, and I can't imagine anything different.'"

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Finallly history repeats (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439007)

Will advanced civilizations one day find our remains and conclude we were cave dwellers?

Re:Finallly history repeats (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439041)

Given that we, even now, are able to find records of civilizations thousands of years ago that lived in non-cave dwellings formed of far less durable materials than we use now, I'd say no.

Re:Finallly history repeats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439193)

My scrotum was in yo mama's cave.

Re:Finallly history repeats (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439861)

It's still there, you ball-less fuck!

Re:Finallly history repeats (2)

Fuzzy Viking (1140767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439083)

Probably. It actually makes a lot of sense, especially here in Norway where most of the country is mountainous and the arable land is very limited. Of course, carving caves in granite is a bit more demanding than in porous soil...

Re:Finallly history repeats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439087)

In some places, we still are.

Re:Finallly history repeats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439103)

Well, just look at the western style of cleaning your ass with paper instead of water like in Asia. And I am serious. Why the hell people in western countries use paper to clean their back? Water is much more comfortable and better. It is just some prejudice.

Re:Finallly history repeats (2, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439117)

You have obviously not squeezed the Charmin.

Re:Finallly history repeats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440105)

When I take a shit away from home, I'm generally not prepared to take a shower afterwards.

Re:Finallly history repeats (3, Funny)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439247)

Nah. I think this is just Foxconn PR to make people believe that living in caves is the best their employees can have and an awesome green environment. Next, they will say, they even have caves for their workers in their factories. Kiddiiing! ;-)

Re:Finallly history repeats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440111)

Apple iPad assembly. So easy, even a caveman can do it.

Re:Finallly history repeats (5, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439299)

Will advanced civilizations one day find our remains and conclude we were cave dwellers?

That's already a reasonably common observation in our current civilization (which sometimes characterizes itself as "advanced"). I've seen any number of descriptions of houses as artificial caves. This especially applies to houses made of brick or concrete materials, which are really just artificial stones. If you're living in an area that's mostly flat terrain, making your own mini-hills with a door in the side can be very practical. And we even make "hive" dwelling, which we call apartment building.

Recently, there have been a number of articles published about the old middle-eastern house construction, that amounts to thick (1 meter or so) outer walls, typically of cheap mud-hay mixtures, covered with a layer of stucco for a harder, waterproof outer shell. The thicker the walls are, the better insulation they provide, and the more stable the internal temperature is. There are old and new "hacienda" style houses in the southwestern US built like this (and fakes that are made with thin stucco-covered walls that don't work nearly as well). It's not unusual for people to observe that this type of house is really an artificial hill constructed around a "cave".

It's not much of a stretch to call most of our houses "cave dwellings". The difference is mostly a matter of terminology, not function. Pretending that we're "modern" is all well and good, but does somewhat mask the fact that the connections between our dwellings and our ancestors' caves is fairly clear once you get past the pretense that they're something totally different.

Re:Finallly history repeats (4, Insightful)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439751)

That makes it sound as if cave dwelling was the norm for humans in the Pleistocene. Actually the reason prehistoric people seemed to dwell in caves is because all the above ground structures they resided in disintegrated in short order, which only makes sense when you think about it. Cave dwelling likely was the exception to the rule, given how uncommon suitable caves are in the first place - the loess plateau in China is the largest of its kind in the world, so it's not surprising to see people take advantage of its properties.

Re:Finallly history repeats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439527)

All the Greenies and Warmists probably think this is a great idea.

Re:Finallly history repeats (4, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440093)

Will advanced civilizations one day find our remains and conclude we were cave dwellers?

Humans have never been cave dwellers. They just happened to live in caves, too. That we find traces of human settlement in caves is a selection bias -- outside of caves, the evidence has been washed away. It was never a predominant form of settlement.

Nice... not (4, Informative)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439025)

It's all well and good to praise this: "Life is easy and comfortable here". But... really? I would only live in a cave like this when my previous house was in a slump and this is slightly less miserable.

Re:Nice... not (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439049)

Too bad you are narrow minded. I would pay $2,000,000 to live in a hole in the ground.

http://www.silohome.com/ [silohome.com]

I would LOVE to live in a decommissioned Missile silo.

Re:Nice... not (5, Funny)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439377)

I would pay $2,000,000 to live in a hole in the ground.

Good news! Some day, you'll reside in one for free!

Re:Nice... not (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439709)

Not really, My will states that I am to be taken to a taxidermist and stuffed and left on a park bench somewhere as a prank. From three I'm guessing it's cremation or a landfill.

Re:Nice... not (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439913)

It is unlikely that that particular clause of your will will get fulfilled, as it quite likely violates the law on the handling of a human corpse.

Re:Nice... not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440203)

Even if it is carried out. They would just bury him in a paupers grave then send the bill to his family.

Re:Nice... not (2)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439791)

You need a copy of the $50 and Up Underground House Book. [undergroundhousing.com] . I read this in the 80s so it doesn't seem they've adjusted for inflation; still, a rude hole in a hill using PVC pipes for supports can't set you back that much.

Re:Nice... not (2)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440151)

If the cave is not properly engineered, it can be a death trap. Just look at all the miners that die from collapsed tunnels. If you're living in a mountain, then you're going to be dealing with ground swells, and potential tunnel collapses.

Re:Nice... not (3, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439107)

When you are sitting inside, how can you tell the difference between one of these finished caves and a house? Look around and its just walls.

Re:Nice... not (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439123)

The lack of windows would be a thing, I suppose.

Re:Nice... not (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439425)

You could have a few windows on one side.

Re:Nice... not (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439897)

"Light tubes" [wikipedia.org] might help as well.

Re:Nice... not (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439997)

Perhaps an entire series of tubes!

Re:Nice... not (4, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439127)

If there's an earthquake, a house has a lower chance of burying you alive.

Re:Nice... not (4, Insightful)

ed1park (100777) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439271)

Also, it's nice to have a bedrooms/bathrooms with a window. Not only for a view and some fresh air, but it serves as route of escape in case of fire or some threat at the main and only entrance.

I wonder if radon and other poisonous things are a concern. But if your alternative is living out of cardboard boxes or a landfill with your children, then a cave doesn't seem so bad.

Families living on landfills:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wfjgcSxEw8 [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o9z43l55PU [youtube.com]

Re:Nice... not (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439273)

Only if it's built properly. On the other hand, a cave is less likely to burn down.

Re:Nice... not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439379)

'down" ... it's not the collapse that kills you, it's asphyxiation.

Re:Nice... not (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439533)

Yeah, going to have to put a "WHOOSH!" here...

Lower than apartment building? (2)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439435)

I've lived all my life in apartment buildings (Second and fifth floor, not counting the ground floor) and were an earthquake to occur, I'm not at all certain that it's preferable over small-ish caves containing a couple of rooms... Naturally, that's not that important if they aren't in area prone to earthquakes.

Hell, I'd love to live in a cave like that, provided that it'd have electricity and all.

Re:Nice... not (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439907)

You can't put any kind of earthquake isolation system on a cave either...

Re:Nice... not (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439229)

My lady has lived in a cave in Greece and she said it was wonderful, just don't run around on the rugs or you'll slip and break your head.

Re:Nice... not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439775)

Indeed Sir Drinkypoo, please regale us with tales of your Lady's jaunt in the lands of classical antiquity.
Yes, I'm being sarcasitic. Just call your girlfriend by that term; everything else is pretentious and ghetto (which is a truly obnoxious combination).

Problems... (4, Insightful)

bosef1 (208943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439029)

I haven't read the articles; are these the same caves that collapse every time that area gets a strong earthquake, causing a huge humanitarian crisis as all of the occupants are buried under the hill?

Re:Problems... (5, Informative)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439175)

Exactly those. Just read up on the Shaanxi Earthquake in 1556 [wikipedia.org] , when almost a million people died in such caves.

But hey, it's energy efficient and it's not radioactive. Who cares about the people who die without any radioactivity involved?

Re:Problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439387)

Unless the cave rocks are themselves radioactive. The natural radiation could as well be higher than Chernobyl.

Re:Problems... (4, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439717)

But that's natural radioactivity. That's the kind of radioactivity that doesn't cause cancer. (Don't ask.)

Re:Problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439277)

I haven't read the articles; are these the same caves that collapse every time that area gets a strong earthquake, causing a huge humanitarian crisis as all of the occupants are buried under the hill?

What crisis? Excess humans (are there any other kind?) are wiped out by the natural forces of Gaia.

All neat and clean.

Remember - the Unabomber would approve.

Re:Problems... (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439353)

Yes, they are the same caves. I don't see this particular issue addressed in any of the stories. I think it's possible to engineer cave dwellings (even ones in dangerous soil like loess, mentioned in the article) to withstand earthquakes, but that is a dangerous oversight for the articles on underground dwellings to make, which might reflect a similar oversight by the people building the current generation of underground dwellings. Or it might just be the usual journalistic incompetence.

Not legal in the USA (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439039)

All the silly safety laws here will make cave dwelling illegal as there are no egress windows in every room and at least two exit doors.

Because if the cave burns, you cant get out.

Re:Not legal in the USA (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439121)

Except I've seen several cave houses for sale in places such as New Mexico and Arizona.

Re:Not legal in the USA (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439345)

Not in any city area, always way out beyond zoning and typically they are grandfathered. I.E. built before we started electing Low IQ morons to government positions.

Re:Not legal in the USA (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439599)

It's not unheard of in Europe though (Mostly in Espane)

Re:Not legal in the USA (2, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439939)

begin sarcasm

That's a bad thing? A cave fire provides food, reduces population, and frees up a unit for someone else that needs shelter. You see, your problem is that you're not thinking like an environmentalist.

end sarcasm

Re:Not legal in the USA (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439955)

You can build a cave dwelling that still meets those requirements.

Re:Not legal in the USA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440171)

I believe that is incorrect. For one thing, building codes are local, not federal. For another, I've personally seen at least one underground home without a window in every room right here in Illinois. But as that was 30 years ago and times can change, I also found this website of a company that builds underground homes in the US today: http://www.earthshelteredhousing.com.

Big deal (5, Funny)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439047)

I have a cave at my place as well. It's got a beer fridge, wide-screen TV, and power tools. Belching and farting is not only permitted but encouraged.

Re:Big deal (1)

gtvr (1702650) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439079)

"No women, either!!!"

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439949)

This is obvious. Women don't belch, fart or snore, therefore they must bitch or they will explode.
Those explosions would be a serious hazard to cave dwelling.

Re:Big deal (1)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439099)

Stay classy homie.

Re:Big deal (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439957)

I have but one question. Does farting in a cave echo?

Re:Big deal (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440195)

My Basement = Man Cave!

What is the difference (3, Insightful)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439055)

between living in a cave and your parents basement?

Re:What is the difference (1)

blackicye (760472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439061)

between living in a cave and your parents basement?

Cave has more efficient climate control.

Re:What is the difference (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439129)

Independence and ownership.

Re:What is the difference (2)

SpockLogic (1256972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439131)

between living in a cave and your parents basement?

A cave is a better Hobitat.

Re:What is the difference (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439243)

between living in a cave and your parents basement?

Your parents' basement comes with free utilities and a homestyle catering service upstairs ;-)

Re:What is the difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439373)

Cavemen get all the women, basement dwellers get none.

Re:What is the difference (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440011)

I'd have a hard time getting my Cheetara poster to stay on a cave wall.

In a hole in the ground... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439067)

"Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

Cue the straw men. (2, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439075)

I expect, within a week, to find at least one person rambling that 'All the liberal ecocommies want us to go back to living in caves and mud huts.'

arable land (4, Informative)

markhahn (122033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439089)

why is it that arable land counts for so little in western (at least north american) societies? isn't it a bit of a shame we devote so much land to lawns, rather than something productive? yes, I know: the crops that could be grown are not worth the cost of maintaining them. but why is that? is food too cheap, or labor too expensive? is it a distortion caused by exchange rates?

I wouldn't mind a part-cave house, especially since a cave would presumably be near some sort of elevation (hillside, escarpment). I think everyone values a bit of a view, some sunlit rooms, etc. but one-story houses on flat plots of land are pretty boring once they scale past a cottage.

Re:arable land (1, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439221)

So much land is devoted to lawns because no matter where people go, they prefer to transform their surroundings to look like the savannas where humans first lived.

Re:arable land (4, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439239)

is food too cheap, or labor too expensive

For many people, I think the calculus goes something like this for, say, growing tomatoes:

Spend anything from $10-40 per plant in potting soil, pots, cages, seedlings, etc.
Devote a couple hours of labor, per plant, over the entire growing season to coax them into being productive
Be inundated with tomatoes for all of three weeks at the height of summer, at the same time when...
Their grocery store sells tomatoes for $2/lb. all year 'round

I personally don't take this view. I enjoy my garden, even the modest amount of labor it requires. It's productive enough to do better-than-breakeven on cost, especially when I amortize the upfront costs over many years. Plus, although I wouldn't boast that, say, my tomatoes are world-class, they are a damn sight better than what the grocery store offers. I don't eat much out-of-season, so having fresh tomatoes in January just seems silly.

Re:arable land (1)

ifrag (984323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439419)

Plus, although I wouldn't boast that, say, my tomatoes are world-class, they are a damn sight better than what the grocery store offers.

I thought this is why people grew their own in the first place. In my experience homegrown have a lot more flavor to them, store bought tomatoes taste bland in comparison after.

Or I suppose like yourself, actually enjoying it. I'd be more outcome driven about it myself, the work involved might not be completely proportional to the perceived increase in quality.

Re:arable land (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439793)

There are certain crops that make sense in a kitchen garden. Most are not economical, or require too many chemicals.

I've just planted first early potatoes for two reasons:

1) I'm able to crop them when they are small and tasty

2) They are extremely expensive to buy early in the season. I do not grow main crop potatoes because they are cheap plus I have a common scab and blight problem.

Tomatoes: Grow the small ones like Sweet Millions. You don't end up with a glut and they're small enough for finger food. I grow mine in hanging baskets. They taste lovely and look pretty.

Of course, old techniques for preserving still work well today.

Re:arable land (3, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439829)

My gardening experience is somewhat different -
Spend anything from $10-40 per plant in potting soil, pots, cages, seedlings, etc.
Devote a couple hours of labor, per plant, over the entire growing season to coax them into being productive.
Step outside one day to see a deer enjoying the last of the tomatoes after devouring everything else in the garden.

Re:arable land (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439257)

Because they have,
1. Comparatively low population density.
2. The best agricultural technology ever invented to squeeze all the food possible from that land.
Far from being in food crisis, most of the western world has problems with overeating. They even throw energy away turning corn into beef just because it tastes good.

Re:arable land (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439281)

We have an abundance of it as modern farming techniques have improved yields to the point where we simply don't need as in the past. Around here (midwest) when many farmers pass away their kids have no interest in farming so developers usually outbid other farmers and the land goes to other uses. The housing deflation put a damper on that for the time being, but it will happen again soon enough.

If governments didn't artificially inflate farm incomes it'd be far worse.

Re:arable land (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439467)

Why should an average Joe try to farm his yard for food he doesn't need and can't sell competitively with those that know how to farm and do so efficiently with multi-hundred thousand dollar combines?

Besides, you pose a false dichotomy. The options aren't having farmed land or having a lawn. The lawn is a vast improvement on the dirt yards of the early 20th century, and on unkept woodland scrub before that, in terms of both carbon capturing ability and ambient temperature (dirt yards are hot).

It makes more sense to put more people on smaller land (do away with yards altogether) for energy efficiency/cost reasons than to have millions of sub-acre semiproductive farms.

But... who can argue with the American Dream?

Re:arable land (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440015)

Combines harvest grains, in other words, cow food and bread. the vast majority of vegetables and meat are touched by multiple sets of human hands and not an insignificant amount of money and energy are devoted to handling and transporting this food. With adequate knowledge and climate, it is an undeniable efficiency for a family to have a supplementary food plot. It is not hard to emulate commercial productivity at an urban scale

What the hell are you smoking calling turf an improvement? Turf is a TERRIBLE land covering, especially compared to the native species we displace .. at least within the 1000 mi radius of my home in the midwest. It is inferior compared to native plants, which typically fill a more appropriate ecological role compared to an invasive species. Turf is a relatively POOR carbon sink compared to grass/sedge. Residential turf never aerates the trampled ground from residential construction, creating huge drainage/waste water/water shed issues (its the same as pavement for any mid-big rain > 7mm). And since its drought intolerant and shouldn't be grown in most of the places its planted we waste water and fertilizer to keep it pretty, which are also wasted because the ground is non-porous...

In conclusion, please restrict yourslef to subjects you are more knowledgeable about :-)

Re:arable land (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440145)

It makes more sense to put more people on smaller land (do away with yards altogether) for energy efficiency/cost reasons than to have millions of sub-acre semiproductive farms.

Along the same lines: Why give 100 people each tiny yards, when they can have nice apartments next to a large park instead? I think the New Urbanists have it right.

Re:arable land (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440147)

It's because of globalisation of food market, which gaves Western countries dangerously false sense of security about food resouces they have. It is not like goverment institutions aren't aware about this danger, I guess they know it allright, they just tend to overlook it.

From other side, it gives something for farmers in my country (and frankly, most of Europe) to export. Still, it is heavily subsided. But it's not definitely very black and white - while middle men as definition is plague, lot of farmers have something to grow and export because of Western markets, so complex issue.

And while lot of people like to trash such manifactured food, friend of mine who's excelent scientist in food industry says while all that stuff is nothing to be proud of (like all litle tricks they keep food fresh and not rotten), their dangers are definitely overplayed (you are still more guaranteed to die from sugar overtake over years than E category substances). But it's understandable, considering mystery un secrets clouding food industry.

I'm down to bare essentials - plain water, buckwheat, plain yogurt and regular eating schedule. Tomatos and other greens twice a week. And I feeling more healthy than ever.

I bet they've never heard of the new Ipad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439101)

since they've been living in a cave

Re:I bet they've never heard of the new Ipad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440039)

Of course they have. They built it!

Tatooine (Tunisia) (1)

drumlight (1244276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439115)

I visited the caves in Tunisia that were used whilst filming Star Wars and they seemed ideal for the environment. Cool, private and comfortable would suit me just fine. Relocate it to Canada and shovelling snow would be an appalling prospect but a more appropriate underground dwelling still has plenty of advantages year round.

I hope they don't dig too greedily. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439151)

Else they might have to deal with all sorts of megabeasts in the underworld.

Never a day passes where I don't think back to those horrors. I'll miss you guys.

What about radon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439169)

When I bought my house, they warned me the radon was a bit high and I needed to perform radon remediation. THe problem was my sub-pump not being sealed so radon was leaking out of it and into my house.

That's all well and good, but at the time my thought was wouldn't a cave be even more dangerous? If radon comes from the ground, wouldn't it leak out of the floor into the cave?

Just curious.

Earthen berms.... (3, Informative)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439187)

Earthen berms (Hobbit holes) were all the rage in the early 1970's, just after the OPEC crisis. By the late 1970's, lots of people discovered firsthand the problems with trapped moisture, lack of ventilation, lack of natural light, and lack of egress options.

I think the soil and climate conditions in Shaanxi are relatively unique, so they might get away without the moisture problems.

Re:Earthen berms.... (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439355)

By the late 1970's, lots of people discovered firsthand the problems with trapped moisture, lack of ventilation, lack of natural light, and lack of egress options.

That's a result of lacking engineering and architectural know-how. You get some guy who's never designed a house who suddenly gets the brainstorm that he's going to build himself a hobbit hole, or a geodesic dome, or a house made out of discarded glass bottles. The spirit of DIY was a very 1960s (roughly 1965-1975) thing: you don't have to rely on "the system", you could build your own house, grow your own food, weave your own cloth etc. DIY's the second coolest thing about the 60's (after to the conjunction of birth control pills and the rarity of VDs that couldn't be cured with penicillin).

But of course the vast majority of these experiments were a disaster, but if you took the people who had the most success, who maybe put the extra effort in to figure out how to solve the problems of an earthen house, their results would be strikingly different than the dark, dingy holes in the ground (with ends of worms etc.). My brother lived next to a guy like that, an architect who made his career building "underground" houses. He designed his houses terraced into the south facing slope of natural hills. Inside you'd never know you were in an underground house.

Cave! (2)

Hugundous (1210818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439207)

You're lucky to live in a cave! We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank.

Re:Cave! (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439521)

We were evicted from our cardboard box. Had to go live in a hole in the ground.

Almost not possible in the US (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439219)

The permit process would dash any hopes. Habitability inspection.... Sanitation requirements.... In most places, electrical hookup to the grid is a legal requirement. Also, if childrens services found out, there goes your kids.

Radon gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439249)

I wonder if anyone has ever checked the level of radon gas in these caves?

Re:Radon gas (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439625)

I wonder if anyone has ever checked the level of radon gas in these caves?

Yes. [google.com]

Why Would A House Require Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439265)

We have plenty of methods to make houses that don't require energy, and if they do to build them so the generate what they need..

Strike the Earth! (1)

Crasoose (1621969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439329)

I hope they are embarking with shallow metals because they don't seem to be digging very deep.

Personal Time (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439401)

Do they sometimes set aside rooms for the husband to pursue his hobbies in and call it a man house?

Americans wont survive the zombie apocolypse (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439537)

But these guys will.. GG

...And? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439579)

I like how the article makes out as if living in a cave is some sort of revolutionary idea.

While it seems the Chinese have been doing it in much greater numbers for a great many more years, they aren't the only ones to know how much sense it can make.

If you ever visit Australia and venture into the outback, there are a number of places where people live in caves, the most famous being Coober Pedy [wikipedia.org] . The cave homes and even the hotel are very cozy in winter and very cool in summer and I found them to be quite charming in the couple of times I have been there.

Better watch out for the creepers! (2)

tenzig_112 (213387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439671)

I can't be the only one who thought of Minecraft while reading that.

Gives new meaning to the question: (0)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439849)

Do you live in a cave?

I love the smell of Radon in the morning! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439941)

There are very good reasons we don't live in caves any more.

I noticed this while travelling in China (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440097)

When travelling by rail, many of the hillsides had small cave entrances everywhere, i'm pretty sure it was not just in Shaanxi province, i kinda figured some people may be living in them, or they were root cellars for crop storage.

Nice to see a photo of the inside of one.

They are lucky to have a cave! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440107)

They are lucky to be able to live in a cave. I had to live in the lake.

http://youtu.be/WRxjqOcvxoE

this will inevitably result in a goblin siege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440141)

I hope they are prepared....

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