Everyone says we should do something, but nobody ever wants to pay the price.
According to Wikipedia,
After his book became a hit, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was hired to restore it, but they did it the quick and dirty way.
Victor Hugo began writing Notre-Dame de Paris in 1829, largely to make his contemporaries more aware of the value of the Gothic architecture, which was neglected and often destroyed to be replaced by new buildings or defaced by replacement of parts of buildings in a newer style. For instance, the medieval stained glass panels of Notre-Dame de Paris had been replaced by white glass to let more light into the church.
Interesting side digression in here around the 19th century renovations that were done fast and sloppy basically because Victor Hugo made Notre Dame famous all of a sudden and it needed to look a little better for tourists.— Maggie Koerth-Baker (@maggiekb1) April 15, 2019
Not everyone loved it then, nor more recently as Oliver Wainwright reminds us of a more recent critic:
Ian Nairn on Notre Dame: "One of the most pessimistic buildings in the world … No hope of change, and no glimmer of ultimate purpose: just an endless office of worship … Viollet-le-Duc’s musty and self-righteous cackle can be heard all over the building."— Olly Wainwright (@ollywainwright) April 16, 2019
The spire that collapsed was added by Viollet-le-Duc in his massive renovation and restoration of starting in 1844, fixing the damage done during the French Revolution, so – like so many great buildings – it is not an original.
Even Victor Hugo wrote: "Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of centuries." It's not surprising that environmentalists also made a natural connection:
Watching something that took centuries to develop, something that can never entirely be recreated, disappear in the comparative blink of an eye -- that, in slow motion, is going to be the dominant feeling of the 21st century. Only instead of buildings: glaciers, forests, species.— David Roberts (@drvox) April 15, 2019
Bill McKibben and Eric Holthaus exchange thoughts:
This was my first thought today too.— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) April 15, 2019
It's not at all the same thing — most importantly, it seems like the fire at Notre Dame may have been an accident, while at this point we must think of climate change as intentional.
But the profound sense of permanent loss is heartbreaking. https://t.co/66sN4qgHNH
Construction fires are particularly tragic because they are preventable, but the major reason that these fires of significant buildings keep happening is lack of funding. Brazil's National Museum and its 20 million item collection was a "tragedy that could have been avoided". The museum had been trying to get money to protect its collection for years.
In Glasgow, the School of Art was destroyed because of poor management of fire risk during the restoration after an earlier fire, which occurred because a sprinkler system was not completed.
In 2017, Time published a story about how the cathedral needed renovations desperately. But nobody could agree who should be paying for it. The government owns the building and leases it to the Church for free. But church is supposed to cover upkeep ...— Maggie Koerth-Baker (@maggiekb1) April 15, 2019
The late Andrew Tallon was quoted in Time two years ago:
“The damage can only accelerate,” says Andrew Tallon, an associate professor of art at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and an expert on Gothic architecture. Having carefully studied the damage, he says the restoration work is urgent. If the cathedral is left alone, its structural integrity could be at risk. “The flying buttresses, if they are not in place, the choir could come down,” he says. “The more you wait, the more you need to take down and replace.”
The more you wait, the harder it gets to fix. You can say that about buildings, infrastructure, and, of course, climate. But nobody wants to pay the price.