via Nat’l Geographic: The Growth of Megacities

Geography in the News: The Growth of Megacities

Posted by Neal Lineback of Geography in the NewsTM on February 17, 2014
By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner,  Geography in the NewsTM

Megacities’ Expansive Growth

For the first time in human history, more of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in cities than in rural areas. That is an incredible demographic and geographic shift since 1950 when only 30 percent of the world’s 2.5 billion inhabitants lived in urban environments.

The world’s largest cities, particularly in developing countries, are growing at phenomenal rates. As a growing landless class is attracted by urban opportunities, meager as they might be, these cities’ populations are ballooning to incredible numbers.

A May 2010 Christian Science Monitor article on “megacities” predicted that by 2050, almost 70 percent of the world’s estimated 10 billion people—more than the number of people living today—will reside in urban areas. The social, economic and environmental problems associated with a predominantly urbanized population are considerably different from those of the mostly rural world population of the past.

A megacity is an urban agglomeration (accumulation) with more than 10 million inhabitants. Sixty years ago in 1950, there were only two megacities—New York-Newark and Tokyo. In 1995, 14 megacities existed. Today, there are 22, mostly in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. By 2025, there will probably be 30 or more.

gitn_1049_Megacities

Urbanization has been occurring in the developed countries of the West for 200 years. Since the Industrial Revolution, a period from the 18th to 19th century in which machine-based manufacturing grew tremendously, cities have grown rapidly. As technological innovations flourished, economies previously dependent on manual labor and draft-animals began to change. People moved into the cities to find work and relatively quickly, cities began to grow exponentially.

Today, the most rapid megacity growth is occurring in the world’s least developed and poorest countries—those least able to handle the political, social, economic and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization.

In the most modern industrialized countries, on average, three out of four people already live within an urban area. In contrast, in the least-developed regions of the world, more than two out of three people still reside in a rural area. But that statistic is changing rapidly.

For people in developing countries, even the slums of cities like Mumbai, India, can offer more opportunities than their poor subsistence-based villages can. People gravitate to the cities because the potential for making money is greater there. While most of the economies in rural areas are agriculture-based with little cash flow, in the cities, people may be able to earn cash for work or retail sales.

The 10 largest cities in the world in 2010 and their projected populations by year 2025 are Tokyo, Japan  (37.1 million), Delhi, India (28.6), São Paulo, Brazil (21.7), Mumbai, India (25.8), Mexico City (20.7), New York-Newark (20.6), Shanghai, China (20.0), Calcutta, India (20.1), Dhaka, Bangladesh (20.9) and Karachi, Pakistan (18.7).

According to the Christian Science Monitor, along with the masses come problems associated with providing necessary services like clean water, sanitation systems to remove the megatons of garbage and human waste and transportation systems to ferry workers. In addition, many cities have difficult times providing electrical networks, health care facilities and police protection.

Urbanization is not all bad news. According to the Christian Science Monitor, some see great promise in the trend, especially those companies that build roads and buildings.  If a city is efficient, energy consumption can decrease by 20 percent. Transportation costs for goods and labor can fall considerably in cities because markets and workers are all close together. In essence, cities are where cash flows—they are where economic growth takes place.

As the world’s population increases at the rate of 134 million per year, the urbanization process is pushing more and more people into the cities. Such frenetic rates of urbanization and intense poverty of large urban populations strain resources. Nonetheless, to poverty-stricken, landless people, cities offer visions of opportunity. The resulting massive urban underclass, particularly in developing countries, represents one of the world’s greatest social and economic challenges.

The real question is, “What are the limits to urban growth?”

And that is Geography in the News.

Sources: GITN #1049, “Growing Megacities,” June 28, 2010; GITN #844, “Megacities: 10 Million or More People,” Aug. 4, 2006; and Bruinius, Harry, “March of the Megacities,” The Christian Science Monitor, May 10, 2010.

Co-authors are Neal Lineback, Appalachian State University Professor Emeritus of Geography, and Geographer Mandy Lineback Gritzner. University News Director Jane Nicholson serves as technical editor. Geography in the NewsTM  is solely owned and operated by Neal Lineback for the purpose of providing geographic education to readers worldwide.

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via Christian Science Monitor: Drug trafficking in Central America Wreaking Havoc on Forests

 

Drug trafficking in Central America wreaking havoc on forests, study finds

Drug traffickers are targeting vast stretches of rainforest  for clandestine landing strips and roads to carry on the drug trade, study finds

By , Staff writer / January 31, 2014

01-31-Honduras-cocaine_full_380

It is time to rethink the war on drugs from the perspective of “narco-deforestation,” say researchers, who have expressed concern over disappearing Central American rainforest .

In a paper published in journal Science, researchers stated that in remote areas of Honduras, Guatemala,Nicaragua, and neighboring countries, drug traffickers are destroying forests, often protected areas, to make way for clandestine landing strips and roads to move drugs and money.

Vast stretches of forest are also cleared to set up agribusinesses, primarily-cattle ranching, to launder drug money, Erik Nielsen, assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University, told the Monitor.

Much of the deforestation is happening as a response to US-led anti-trafficking efforts, especially in Mexico, says Kendra McSweeney, lead author of the paper and an associate professor of geography at Ohio Statesaid in an Ohio State press release.

“In response to the crackdown in Mexico, drug traffickers began moving south into Central Americaaround 2007 to find new routes through remote areas to move their drugs from South America and get them to the United States,” said Dr. McSweeney.

McSweeney, a geographer and her team did not initially aim to study the murky world of drug trade, but they had to take a detour and examine the environmental problems caused by it, she said.

Areas with a high rate of drug trafficking also recorded a large-scale deforestation, says Dr. Nielsen. So there was a direct correspondence between “hot spots” of deforestation and trafficking “nodes.”

The researchers found that the amount of new deforestation per year jumped more than fourfold in Honduras between 2007 and 2011 – the same period when cocaine movements in the country also spiked.

“Starting about 2007, we started seeing rates of deforestation there that we had never seen before. When we asked the local people the reason, they would tell us: “los narcos” (drug traffickers),” said McSweeney. “I would get approached by people who wanted to change $20 bills in places where cash is very scarce and dollars are not the normal currency.  When that starts happening, you know narcos are there.”

“When drug traffickers moved in, they brought ecological devastation with them,” she added.

As a larger part of the solution, what is required is a very broad multi-lateral discussion about drug policy reform which include unattended causes, such as, deforestation, McSweeney says.

vía GlobalPost: Latin America: The Cost of Murder

The effects that crime, violence, and the homicide rate have on Latin America is a model for the rest of the world. The loss of GDP due to a loss of a work force is starting to have an effect on countries in the form of a lost TAX BASE which can lead to decaying INFRASTRUCTURE and social programs. A increasing adult MORTALITY RATE leaves orphans without families and ultimately guidance for their futures. Coupled with political corruption, there is little hope for the trend to change any time soon.

-The Human Imprint

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Latin America: The cost of murder

Simeon Tegel, January 18, 2014 06:01

Editor’s note: Warning — this article contains graphic images.

LIMA, Peru — Dreams of a better life randomly shattered forever by a stranger’s bullet. Homeless orphans sucked into violent crime. Entire neighborhoods where the police fear to tread.

The human toll of Latin America’s unwanted status as the most homicidal region on Earth has long been all too clear. But experts are now focusing on the staggering economic cost of bloodshed that’s left more than 1 million people dead in the region since 2000.

Here, GlobalPost takes a closer look at the price tag of Latin America’s murder epidemic.

Lost GDP

According to a recent United Nations study, “excess mortality” caused by high murder rates cost Latin America 0.5 percent of its gross domestic product, or $24 billion, in 2009. That percentage rises dramatically for the most violent countries. Honduras — one of the world’s most murderous nations, and one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest — lost 10.5 percent of its economic output.

Even Chile and Uruguay, two of the region’s safest countries, each squandered roughly 3 percent of their 2010 GDP on crime and violence (p. 103 of the UN study). As a part of the world where millions don’t get three square meals a day, Latin America is not in a position to be blowing that kind of cash.

Long-run costs

Even those dramatic numbers may seriously underestimate the cumulative price tag, over time, of Latin America’s bloodbath. Another study, by the World Bank, calculated that a 10 percent drop in the sky-high murder rates of Central America’s most dangerous nations — which would still leave Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala as some of the planet’s deadliest peacetime places — could increase annual economic growth by an entire percentage point. Over several decades, that extra growth would build up significantly, and could eventually make the big difference between a country having the living standards of Switzerland or, well, Honduras.

Complicated bill

Calculating a definitive bill for the violence is close to impossible. How, for example, do you put a price tag on the 331 million years of human life that the UN estimates were lost in 2009 alone? And how would you gauge the counterfactual of investments never made because of the risk of violence and robbery? Nevertheless, experts reached the figures above using factors such as extra health care costs, billions blown on policing and private security rather than productive activities, surging prison budgets, and consumers too afraid to leave their homes to spend their hard-earned cash.

More than narcos

Although the drug cartels have killed thousands, that bloodshed is concentrated in relatively small pockets of a region that’s home to 600 million people. For the most part, Latin America’s high murder rates have more mundane causes, like street crime and domestic violence.

The forces behind the violence are complex, but have much to do with social breakdown and, the UN says, the limited professionalism of police forces and justice systems — polite diplo-speak for widespread corruption and incompetence. According to the UN, 1 in every 3 prisoners in a survey of six Latin American nations’ incarcerated populations left home before the age of 15.

Although Colombia’s murder rate remains seven times higher than that of the United States, the country has managed to reduce homicides since the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s when drug kingpin Pablo Escobar ran amok.

Colombia still has a long way to go, says Camilo Reyes, executive director of the country’s American Chamber of Commerce. But he attributes the homicide reduction to strong state institutions, including courts that actually deliver justice: “We have managed to maintain a separation of powers in Colombia. It is precarious sometimes, but we do have that, including the justice system.”

Poverty ≠ violence

Perhaps one of the most surprising findings is that some Latin American homicide rates have risen even as poverty has waned. The UN explains this paradox by pointing to factors including weak public institutions — governing everything from public schools to the courts — and one of the world’s widest rich-poor gaps. It also cites rapid “disorganized” urban growth, outstripping governments’ ability to provide basic services in new neighborhoods. In fact, there’s a direct correlation in most Latin American countries between urban growth of more than 2 percent per year and high rates of violence, the UN says.

And the organization blames growing materialism for “aspirational crimes,” in which young people from the wrong side of the tracks see crime as the only way to access the consumer lifestyle rubbed in their faces by advertising.

Iron fist doesn’t work

Another key finding is that “iron fist” policing does not work. “Strong police and criminal repression in the region have often coincided with high crime rates,” the UN notes dryly. Gustavo Beliz, an expert at the Inter-American Development Bank, told GlobalPost what’s really needed are smarter, not tougher, strategies from police forces that currently lack everything from “credible and detailed crime databases to community police training.” Comprehensive social policies, addressing not just poverty but family breakdown and schooling, are also needed to break the cycle of violence from one generation to another, Beliz said.

via NPR: The Katydid Dilemma: Will You Eat Insects?

Could this be the onset of the Fourth AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION? One thing is for sure, it would have made ESTER BOSERUP smile.

-Human Imprint

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Reblog via NPR

The Katydid Dilemma: Will You Eat Insects?

by BARBARA J. KING

January 17, 201411:13 AM

Insect candy given out as part of a promotion in London last year.

It’s right there on the dinner menu at Oyamel (a Washington, D.C., restaurant), listed under the “authentic Mexican tacos” section:

Chapulines

The legendary Oaxacan specialty of sauteed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole.

$5.00

Whether it’s sauteed grasshoppers at Oyamel or katydid grilled cheese sandwiches prepared for the annual Bug Fair at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, insects are the new darlings of the avant-garde food world. At least that’s the message in the chapter called “Grub” from Dana Goodyear’s book Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture.

Which animals we eat, and which we revile and reject, fascinates me. It’s in this context that I’m beginning to explore entomophagy.

Goodyear notes that 80 percent of the species alive on Earth today are insects, but only select species are consumed. Marc Dennis, writing on the Insects Are Food website, is more specific:

“There are an estimated 1,462 recorded species of edible insects and in all likelihood hundreds if not thousands more that simply haven’t been sampled or perhaps not even discovered yet.”

If, as Goodyear describes, insect-eating is seen as a cutting-edge culinary adventure in the U.S., it’s an everyday thing in other parts of the world. Brittany Fallon, my former student at the College of William and Mary, now conducting doctoral research in Uganda on the behavior of wild chimpanzees, stressed for me in an email message how selective villagers are about what insects they eat, and how detailed their knowledge is of insect behavior:

“There are ‘white ants’ which come in March after a big rain between 4/5 AM. Then there are ‘big ants’ which come in May, and emerge from the mounds at 1 AM. Finally, there are ‘bimumu’ the August ants, which come between 5-6 PM. Ants can be prepared in several ways: pan-fried with a bit of oil and spices, boiled into a kind of soup, and third, made into a sort of ‘bread’ of ground ant patties which are first boiled while wrapped in banana leaves, and then pan-fried. I’ve eaten the fried ants – yummy, no particular taste I can remember other than crunchy and oily, like popcorn – and also the ant bread, which tasted exactly like a McDonald’s sausage patty (not so yummy, to a longtime vegetarian).”

Here at home, will insect-eating really catch on? I wonder about the squeamish-palate factor, and about the ethics of eating insects versus other animals. Clearly, as Marc Dennis notes, insects pack a nutritional punch:

“According to the Entomological Society of America they generally contain more protein and are lower in fat than traditional meats. In addition they have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency than traditional meats. In other words they have a better feed-to-meat ratio than beef, pork, lamb or chicken, not to mention other less traditional meats such as goat, horse, buffalo, ostrich and alligator.”

So, because I’m curious, questions for my readers:

If you’re vegetarian, would you consider supplementing your intake of protein by way of entomophagy?

If you eat meat, would you consider sometimes substituting insects for other animals?