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The Converging Crisis – Part 1: Global Warming and the Urbanization Trend

Growing cities contribute to climate change and make rural living increasingly difficult around the world. Growing cities contribute to climate change and make rural living increasingly difficult around the world.

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 landscape 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 a two-part series addressing the congruent threats of climate change and growing urbanization.

The Urbanization Trend 

Coupled with the risk of global warming, according to the UN’s report, swelling cities will be unable to cope with the demand for basic services

A recent report by UN-Habitat, called Global Report on Human Settlements 2011, Cities and Climate Change: Policy Directives, investigated what the authors call a "deadly collision between climate change and urbanization." We are witnessing, the report emphasized, a steady rise in urban population, with over half the world now living in cities. This is not good news for the ecosystem – urban life demands much more consumption, both in power and natural resource use.

Cities also become hazardous zones in the face of increased natural disaster. Haiti’s earthquake, although not the cause of man-made warming, is a good example of a natural disaster magnified by overpopulation and inadequate infrastructure. The quake that struck Japan measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, killing about 13,000 people. Haiti’s measured 7.0, killed 316,000 people, and rendered millions homeless. It was heavily intensified by overcrowding into the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. This is a picture of things to come. With overpopulated cities, specifically in the developing world, you are much more vulnerable to disaster.

Coupled with the risk of global warming, according to the UN’s report, swelling cities will be unable to cope with the demand for basic services like “water supply, physical infrastructure, transport, ecosystem goods and services, energy provision and industrial production.” Local economies will be “disrupted and populations will be stripped of their assets and livelihoods.”

More importantly, this report identifies a number of effective mitigation strategies to offset the some 67 million people every year migrating into urban landscapes. Green urban planning, like effective public transportation systems and renewable energies, is of grave importance. But it remains to be seen if such measures will be implemented in time.

The rural-to-urban trend is particularly dangerous in regions exposed to extreme weather, such as southern Africa, South and South East Asia, southern Europe, the east coast of South America and the west coast of America. Comprehensive planning strategies and capable leadership is absolutely critical in these zones – or disaster could spell another Katrina.

Green urban planning, like effective public transportation systems and renewable energies, is of grave importance.

Economic market systems, when included in the analysis of climate change, can almost be considered a kind of feedback mechanism itself: as market globalization spreads, cities grow; as cities grow, pollution increases, feeding into the environment and creating a disaster scenario for the overcrowded and poorly equipped city population.

In Part 2 of The Converging Crisis, Climate Change and Cities, I will address the increased vulnerability of cities when confronted with powerful weather systems that threaten their very existence. Stay tuned to RosebugMag.com for the next installment, and more information about global warming, urbanization, and other environmental issues.

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Interested in ways you can help fight against global warming? Tristan Shaw has some valuable advice.

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

Interested in the future of sustainable food production? Discover the hydroponics connection here.

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

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As urbanization and global warming increase, we will need more sustainable cities.
Last modified on Monday, 23 September 2013 22:37

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