Scientists have issued a new warning to the world’s coastal megacities that the threat from subsiding land is a more immediate problem than rising sea levels caused by global warming.
A new paper from the Deltares Research Institute in the Netherlands published in April identified regions of the globe where the ground level is falling 10 times faster than water levels are rising - with human activity often to blame.
In Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest city, the population has grown from around half a million in the 1930s to just under 10 million today, with heavily populated areas dropping by as much as six and a half feet as groundwater is pumped up from the Earth to drink.
The same practice led to Tokyo’s ground level falling by two meters before new restrictions were introduced, and in Venice, this sort of extraction has only compounded the effects of natural subsidence caused by long-term geological processes.
Without a question, we are living in an urban era. More people now live in cities than anywhere else on the planet and I’ve repeatedly argued that cities are our most important economic engine. As a result of these shifts, we’re seeing megacities at a scale the world has never seen before.
"About 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers, aided by rudimentary agriculture, moved to semi-permanent villages and never looked back. With further developments came food surpluses, leading to commerce, specialization and, many years later with the Industrial Revolution, the modern city. Vance Kite plots our urban past and how we can expect future cities to adapt to our growing populations."
Reuters photographer Carlos Barria recently spent time in Shanghai, China, the fastest-growing city in the world. A week ago, he took this amazing shot, recreating the same framing and perspective as a photograph taken in 1987, showing what a difference 26 years can make. The setting is Shanghai's financial district of Pudong, dominated by the Oriental Pearl Tower at left, and the new 125-story Shanghai Tower, China's tallest building and the world's second tallest skyscraper, at 632 meters (2,073 ft) high, scheduled to finish by the end of 2014. Shanghai, the largest city by population in the world, has been growing at a rate of about 10 percent a year the past 20 years, and now is home to 23.5 million people -- nearly double what it was back in 1987. This entry is focused on this single photo pairing, with several ways to compare the two.
"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."
"The French have a wonderful word—flâneur—for someone who seeks to explore and understand the nature of a city’s landscape, usually by taking spontaneous adventures amidst the ebb and flow of life going on around them. In this week’s theme we invite you to lose yourself reading about the flâneur-esque adventures of Maptia’s streetwise connoisseurs and explore a myriad of cities through their eyes."
"By 2030, two out of three people will live in an urban world, with most of the explosive growth occurring in developing countries. For a preview of the future, the last in the Challenges for Humanity series explores São Paulo, Brazil; Lagos, Nigeria; Bangkok, Thailand; and Hyderabad, India."
"To be honest I do not know what they make of my beans," says farmer N'Da Alphonse. "I've heard they're used as flavoring in cooking, but I've never seen it. I do not even know if it's true." Watch how the Dutch respond to a cocoa bean in return or you can watch our entire episode on chocolate here.
The growth of these cities will create a host of environmental and health problems.
By 2210, the global population is expected to grow from just more than 7 billion to 11.3 billion — with 87 percent of the population living in urban areas, according to a new working paper by researchers from NYU’s Marron Institute.
Most of these individuals will be in what’s now the developing world — creating a host of environmental and health problems.
If projections are correct, these new urban dwellers will require the world’s existing cities to expand six-fold to accommodate triple the residents, Richard Florida wrote in The Atlantic. Plus, the world will need 500 new “megacities” of 10 million or more, he wrote.
People who live in them actually have greater social cohesion, according to one sociologist.
Thomas R. Hochschild Jr. actually first encountered the social cohesion of cul-de-sacs in his latest research when he wandered into one in Connecticut with his clipboard and polo shirt, and someone called the cops. That never happened on the other types of streets he was studying, places where it would turn out the neighbors didn't know each other as well, and it was less clear who "belonged." Repeatedly, though, he found at the end of cul-de-sacs families who watched each others' children and took in each others' mail, who barbequed and orchestrated the removal of snow together, and who considered each other close friends. In cul-de-sacs, these families had a stronger sense of shared social space and territoriality. An outsider stood out.
Twenty kilometers (12 miles) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has started harvesting the breezes over the sea. Located in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea, the London Array has a maximum generating power of 630 megawatts (MW), enough to supply as many as 500,000 homes.
The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image. White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames.