Frosty Wooldridge


More About: Environment

Our Troubled Country: Burgeoning Cities of Poverty

“I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good.  I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.”

                                                                              Oprah Winfrey



Urban dwellers worldwide outstrip rural populations.  Poverty, slums and pollution grow in the wake of population increases.

          For example, each day, the United States grows by 8,200 people.  Most of them settle into cities.  California adds 1,700 people per day!  One look at Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and San Francisco illustrates hyper-population at its extreme.

          How much of that total does legal and illegal immigration cause?  Immigration fills two Pasadena Rose Bowls with 200,000 people every 30 days.  We pour them into U.S. society and again refill the two Rose Bowls to pour them into America—month in and month out, year in and year out, decade in and decade out. 

          “Humanity will make the historic transition from a rural to an urban species sometime in the coming years, according to the latest UN population figures,” John Vidal, author, Burgeoning Cities Face Catastrophe

Vidal continued, “The shift will be led by Africa and Asia, which are expected to add 1.6 billion people to their cities over the next 25 years.

          “The speed and scale of inevitable global urbanization is so great most countries will not be remotely prepared for the impact it will have,”  Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, said.  “In human history we have never seen urban growth like this.  It is unprecedented."

Ms. Obaid added: "In 2008, half of the world's population will be in urban areas.  The shift from rural to urban changes a balance that has lasted for millennia.  Within one generation, five billion people, or 60 percent of humanity, will live in cities.  The urban population of Africa and Asia is set to double in this time."

She said that each week the numbers living in cities grew by nearly a million.  This signifies world hyper-population growth on an epic scale.  Makes you wonder what Barney Fife might say about that.

“Andy!” Barney said. “You ever wonder where common sense came from? You know how people figure somethin’ out and make smart decisions?”

“Barn,” Andy said. “When it comes to common sense, I ain’t got humans figured out in this country let alone anywhere else on this here planet.”

“Darn sure we need more common sense in these here times,” Barney said, as he straightened his gun belt.

         "Most cities in developing countries already have pressing concerns, including crime, lack of clean water and sanitation, and sprawling slums,” Obaid said. “But these problems pale in comparison with those that could be raised by future growth.  If we do not plan ahead it will be a catastrophe. The changes are too fast to allow planners simply to react.  If governments wait, it will be too late to [gain] advantages for the coming growth."

          Vidal said, “According to the State of the World Population Report, which Ms. Obaid launched yesterday in London, large-scale population growth will take place in the cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America.  It suggests the largest transition to cities will occur in Asia, where the number of urbanites will almost double to 2.6 billion in 2030.  Africa is expected to add 440 million to its cities in the same period, and Latin America and the Caribbean nearly 200 million.  Rural populations are expected to decrease worldwide by 28 million people.”

“But urbanization can be country in the industrial age has ever achieved significant economic growth without urbanization,” said Obaid. "Cities concentrate poverty but they present poor people's best hope of escaping it.  The potential benefits of urbanization, which include easier access to health centers and education, far outweigh the disadvantages."

          “The report warns, however, that if unaddressed the growth of urbanization will mean growth in slums and poverty, as well as a rise in attempted migration away from poor regions,” Vidal reported.

“Today one billion people live in slums, 90 percent of whom are in developing countries,” said Obaid. “The battle to cut extreme poverty will be waged in the slums.  To win it, politicians need to be proactive and start working with the urban poor.  The only way to defeat urban poverty is head on.”

          “Climate is expected to increasingly shape and be shaped by cities,” Vidal said. “In a vicious circle, climate change will increase energy demand for air conditioning in cities, which will add to greenhouse gas emissions. It could also make some cities unlivable, adding to the ‘heat island’ effect, which can lift temperatures in urban areas by 2 to 6 degrees centigrade.”

"Heat, pollution, smog and ground-level ozone [from cities] affect surrounding areas, reducing agricultural yields, increasing health risks and spawning tornadoes and thunderstorms. The impacts of climate change on urban water supplies are expected to be dramatic," the report says. “Cities like New Delhi, in the drier areas, will be particularly hard hit.”

“What is taking place today, says the UN, is a second great wave of global urbanization,” Vidal said. “The first, in Europe, from 1750-1950, boosted the numbers living in cities to about 420 million, but the second is expected to increase urbanization levels close to those found in Europe at 72 percent and the U.S. at 81 percent today.

“However, developing countries are at a great disadvantage when they start to urbanize,” Vidal reported. "Mortality has fallen rapidly in the last 50 years, achieving in one or two decades what developed countries accomplished in two centuries.  The speed and scale of urbanization today is far greater than in the past.  In the first wave of urbanization, overseas migrations [to the US or Australia] relieved the pressures on European cities. Many migrants settled in new agricultural lands.  Restrictions on international migration today make this almost impossible.  They will also have to build faster than any rich country has ever done.  It will require houses, power, water, sanitation and roads.

         “The report also spells the end for growth of existing mega-cities.  Only Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria, of the world's 20 mega-cities, are expected to grow more than three percent a year in the next decade.  Most growth will be in smaller cities, of under 500,000 people.  The good news is these cities are more flexible [in expansion]; the bad is they are under-served in housing, water, and waste disposal."

          Ms. Obaid said, "It concerns everyone, not just developing countries. If we plan ahead we will create conditions for a stable world.  If we do not, and do not find education, jobs, and houses for people in cities, then these populations will become destructive to themselves and others."

          As you can plainly see in this report, accelerating populations create irreversible crises with unsolvable problems.  For Ms. Obaid to even conjecture that something good will come out of such massive urban expansion shows a lack of understanding of climate change, species extinction, air pollution, acid rain and the mounting aggregate of consequences tied to hyper-population expansion.  She fails to understand exponential growth!

          Yet, her brand of thinking remains pervasive in the face of cascading consequences on a global scale.  When you read any economic report, the one factor most applauded remains that ‘obese’ word—growth.

By applying worldwide illustrations, you can see what will happen to America with an added 100 million people.  It becomes more daunting when you realize 70 million of the next 100 million people added to the USA comprise Third World immigrants escaping their own dilemmas worldwide—only to recreate those population problems in the United States.

          Los Angeles cannot survive another 10 to 15 million added people, but that’s where they’re headed.  If you remember, the arrogant Titanic steamed along in iceberg filled waters in 1912.  Nothing happened and all proved well until it hit the iceberg.  Once it hit, all hell broke loose.  Everyone became victims and/or survivors.  Once 100 million people manifest in America, we too, will become like Dhaka, Bangladesh or Beijing, China or Bombay, India.  We’ve already seen what they’ve done to themselves.  We do not have to do it to our children.

          When will leaders inject concepts like:  “International Sustainable Population Policy”; “International Carrying Capacity Policy”; “International Water Usage Policy”; “International Environmental Impact Policy” for all countries? 

Once they determine carrying capacity for their geography, citizens may enjoy a sustainable existence.  From that equation, “International Family Planning” enters the picture.




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