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The Converging Crisis - Part 2: Urbanization and Climate Change

Slums like this are growing, which could mean disaster as climate change continues and natural disasters strike. Slums like this are growing, which could mean disaster as climate change continues and natural disasters strike.

Cities are now the epicenter of corporate trade and globalized commerce. They serve as centralized hubs for industrial capitalism. And as economic globalization increasingly leaches into all corners of civilization, it becomes harder, especially if you live in the Third World, to make a viable living in rural life. We are seeing a mass of population, bewildered by the crushing fate of market globalization, migrate into urban landscapes in hope of finding work. This presents two converging problems: 1) As urbanization swells, so too will emission rates – cities are responsible for 70 percent of all emissions; 2) as global warming advances, sea levels and disaster rates will increase, posing enormous consequences to urban populations – many of which live under the sea level. This is the second in a two-part series addressing the congruent threats of climate change and growing urbanization.

Climate Change and Cities

But the World Bank’s report put specific emphasis on the Third World because those areas have inadequate infrastructure to handle a severe disaster.

With more people migrating to cities worldwide, and with a steady increase in severe weather patterns, a merging crisis arises that inevitably has to end in mass exoduses when disaster strikes. But how extreme will climate change be on coastal cities? 

If in 2003 over 70,000 people died from an extreme heat wave in Europe, what does this mean for future cities that confront unprecedented heat, drought, landslides, hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels? According to the recent World Bank report, An Urgent Agenda, we could be in for a lot of these “crisis zones.” It warned that the areas most affected – which will mostly be poverty-stricken coastal cities – will eventually lack the resources to rebuild in areas that will most likely just be destroyed again and again.

About one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level, effectively putting it on the front-lines of climate change, with all eyes watching to see how the country will cope with ever increasing sea levels. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans showed the world how devastating a natural disaster can be to low lying cities. Now some experts warn that it won’t be long until the Dutch population has to pack up and move to Germany.

But the World Bank’s report put specific emphasis on the Third World because those areas have inadequate infrastructure to handle a severe disaster. Over a billion people are now starving on the planet, and lots of them are crammed into cities – like in India. India’s slums, as an example, are currently in extreme crisis, adding more weight to already fragile metropolises.

Urban systems are complex networks of human supply and demand. They consume and require vast amounts of resources – water, electricity, food, fuel, etc. And if that steady flow of input stops, you have a human disaster of catastrophic proportions that worsens by the minute. During medieval wars, opposing armies understood the effectiveness of blocking the input of food and water into a city. Urban dependency on supply has increased exponentially since that time period.

At this rate, worldwide disaster will become the norm, and so will a worldwide economic depression that we are already seeing grip whole nations.

Today, global civilization is still in a relatively stable state. This allows the global community and multinational non-profit organizations to pool resources together when tragedy strikes an isolated area. But there must come a point in time, with increased global disaster and diminishing resources (both natural and monetary), when nations will no longer be able to help anyone but themselves. At this rate, worldwide disaster will become the norm, and so will a worldwide economic depression that we are already seeing grip whole nations. The free-market will turn into the free-for-all-market, and government will not be there to save the day, as many assume.

This converging crisis is, as the World Bank’s report said, an urgent agenda. It threatens the existence of huge populations of people. And if they are dislocated, an outcome deemed highly probable, where will they go? World leaders need to grasp the magnitude of urgency and begin green urban planning to help save both the environment and the human population it supports.

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Interested in ways you can help fight against global warming? Read this article. 

Want to learn more about what is causing climate change? Read this article.

Want to learn the difference between different growing systems? Click here for the info you need.

Need hydroponics answers? Get in touch with our grower guru, Erik Biksa.

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Bill Clinton discusses natural disasters in Haiti and the third world, as well as small steps to improve life on planet earth.
Last modified on Monday, 03 September 2012 18:20

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