Urban areas and population growth: Is the Earth ready?

On Monday the 9th, January, “Prepare for Change – The future of people” conference has been provided by the Schumacher Institute at the Create Centre, Bristol. The conference was more a discussion between 12 people about climate change, population growth and migration issues than a conference.

Some subjects have been interesting. One of them particularly has been about net migration rate around the World. According to a recent research about international migration, people are moving more in developed countries than others.

 

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The other one has related to the global urbanisation in 2012. Slides below show us that American Continent, Western Europe, Middle East and Australia are the most industrialised countries.

“Global Urbanisation map showing the percentage of urbanisation per country in 2012”

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Then, industrialisation is the big issue of our century. In the world, the percentage of population living in an urban area is growing a lot. Let’s see: in 1950, 40% of the population in the World lived in an urban area comparing to nowadays, 80% of the World population live in an urban area. Furthermore, in 2050 90% of the population will be in cities.

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However, a book, Whole Earth Discipline has been mentioned in this workshop, in which Stewart Brand argues that the effects of urbanisation are primarily positive for the Environment. His principal argument is that migration away from rural areas reduces the prevalence of destructive subsistence farming techniques, such as implemented slash and burn agriculture. Nevertheless, in July 2013, a report was issued by the United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs and warned that with the additional 2.4 billion people by 2050, the amount of food produced will have to increase by 70% straining food resources, especially in countries already facing food insecurity due to changing environmental conditions.

According to UN experts, the mix of changing environmental conditions and the growing number of people living in urban regions will strain basic sanitation systems and potentially cause a humanitarian and environmental nightmare.

It is obvious that the demographic pressure and our finite planet combined to the global capitalism have increased poverty and social exclusion. Today, the financial network and technologies are not ethical at all and the economic growth is, finally, an illusion. Furthermore, as you can see in this slide below (source: The Schumacher Institute), the depletion of resources is coming soon.

 

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Today, it is urgent to set up solutions at any level of Society. Coming back to a local economy, trying a local money without speculation such as Bristol Pound, following the Do It Yourself Movement (re-use, re-think, share things) such as Instructables or using Ecosia (a green search engine) are some of them.

According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), at a global level, their idea is to set up a “carbon tax” to encourage industries and people to invest in technologies and products with a low ecological footprint. Furthermore, get less pollution in urban areas with renewable energies and green public transports will decrease modern diseases and - at least -  delay climate change.

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