Defusing the Megacity "Bomb"
The most urban growth this century will take place in countries that are least prepared for it, warn defense experts P. H. Liotta and James F. Miskel. The authors foresee serious implications for the whole globe.
By 2025, the world will have 27 megacities with populations exceeding 10 million. A great number will lie within northern Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, China, and Indochina—a zone where urban poverty and squalor already run rampant. As these megacities continue expanding, they will inflict severe environmental pollution and become havens for terrorism and organized crime. Those dangerous elements will eventually spread outwards, potentially destabilizing entire states and regions.
The authors note that, in 1968, biologist Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, in which he predicted that mass starvation would befall cities later in the twentieth century as a consequence of overpopulation. Although the century ended without Ehrlich’s predictions coming to pass, Liotta and Miskel expect that the twenty-first century might see him vindicated as cities drain their resource bases. The problem is not world population growth per se, but nonstop migration into megacities. This urbanization is the “real population bomb.”
The authors call on world leaders, nonprofit activists, and businesses to dispense more aid—under strict oversight—to the developing world’s megacities, and to assist their development of law enforcement and civil institutions. All aid mechanisms should undergo reforms to make them more targeted and more responsive to conditions on the ground, and, when necessary, the UN or other development organizations might temporarily take over a megacity’s administration to oversee critical fixes.
The Real Population Bomb is a persuasive and powerfully written call to action. Urban planners, antipoverty specialists, and anyone concerned about the state of the world will find it informative and instructive.
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This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
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