(14b) Growth of cities into megacities


Cities are most likely the way forward with a growing number of very large cities although these megacities will be mainly located outside the USA and Europe, if migration slows down. These cities develop because people can find jobs and socialise. But, in order to remain viable, I think clean energy by the use of renewables, including electric cars, as well as waste water that is cleaned so it can be used again as drinkable water or to clean toilets is the way forward. At the same time, nature between cities should be allowed to recover so plants and animals can return.

A series about the development of cities into possible future megacities, such as Lagos that grew from unknown to one of the largest cities in the world while some predict it may further grow to a population close to 100 million people. Still, I don't think this will happen soon although I may be called a racist for this. In Africa, people quickly fight with each other over resources, even when plenty are available and when, with good management, everyone could benefit. However, (and not only in Africa), the few greedy set people up against each other to enrich themselves further at the expense of the many as they know that Africans rather fight against each other to grab a little than unite to become a powerful force to enforce changes although, of course, if the army is not on the side of the people than it's difficult to change. And when new leaders take over, they quickly become corrupt and often do the same as the leaders they removed. But also nature can be harsh; even when Africa can be a blessing for everyone, including plants and animals, mismanagement can quickly result in food and water shortages and soil erosion while pollution makes what is available dangerous to use, resulting in battles. Still, only when Africans can determine their own future without rich countries that interfere by supporting dictators in return for cheap material, only then can Africa finally change, if it wants to change.

Rio de Janeiro (and other cities) in Brasil is still growing. It is a good mix between buildings, nature and beach and sea. Still, it faces problems as most large cities do such as poverty, too little parks in certain areas and pollution and traffic problems.

Further, when people decide to move to cities, government should run campaigns to inform people that people who live in cities and want to be successful shouldn't produce large numbers of children as that keeps families in poverty but instead go for smaller families as this will also prevent a collapse of society. As mainly young people move to cities (as their search for work) of whom many want children, it is important to run these birth control information programs so numbers will be controllable. Further, it is important that women earn sufficient so they do not depend on men for their survival. This will result in smaller families.

Indeed, cities are the future as they offer people housing, work and social contact while the surrounding area can be given to nature where people can go to relax. And thus, certainly in Africa but also other regions such as Asia and Latin-America, cities will become bigger. Let's hope the leaders will learn from the mistakes made in Europe and North America so they don't mismanage their cities as done in the West before but today know that rivers, ground and air need to be clean in order to make life in large cities liveable. But, will they accept good advice or will they continue to prefer to listen to those who want to exploit those developing areas such as the fossil fuel and gold and diamant industry?

My response to following statement: "Many economists argue that population growth is needed to create wealth, and that urbanisation significantly reduces humanity’s environmental impact". As argued before and here repeated, I disagree with the first part about population growth because evidence from today and the past shows that continuous population growth doesn't create wealth but poverty, certainly if wealth is unequally distributed as is today, because, what is available (such as space, food and water) needs to be distributed over more people (and thus, when the numbers of people become too large, there is less space, food and water per individual and thus impoverishment). Growth is not always needed but instead, a continuous flow is needed whereby old things are replaced by new ones while old things are recycled (thus, a steady state). But I agree with the second part that living in cities can reduce the environmental impact if cities are well-managed. When too many people live in the countryside, a large number will complain that birds make too much noise or other "wild" animals are a pest and their numbers should be controlled and thus, when people live in cities, the wild animals have less impact on humans and vice versa. And as people build upwards, more people can live in a certain space so less land is needed for the same number of people. Food can be grown both in and on the perimeter of cities.

Thus, I think the other observers are correct when they warn that cities become unmanageable when they grow too large; still, this may nevertheless be better than when many of these people would live in the countryside as than there would be even less space available for anything else than humans (while even for humans insufficient space, food and water may be available). Indeed, birth control is important while people living in cities notice quickly that the need to produce many children is no longer a recipient for richness because, as the numbers of children who die during childbirth and from diseases go down and thus more children survive who need to be fed, they become too expensive. Large families may indeed be favourable when people live as farmers on the countryside whereby children help with the harvest of fields (if still allowed) but in cities, large families are less useable although children may help their parents by selling products in local shops or on the streets 'causing irritation by many).

Further, cities are cheaper to maintain than villages and certainly than single houses although this is not always acknowledged as house prices in cities are often higher because many people want to live close to their work and friends. Indeed, maintenance of streets, electricity and sewerage are cheaper as the distance between houses is smaller; in general, the largest distance in cities is the widest road. Even when there is a large park, this will be surrounded with buildings that are connected and not as in the countryside where greenery means houses are further from each other. My prediction: living outside towns will start to reflect the real cost and this will discourage people to live outside cities and towns, certainly when living in cities will be seen as part of the solution against congestion, of course on condition that public transport is good within these cities or people will use their own cars. And if sufficient numbers of people live in cities and towns, then shops no longer depend on people living in villages to spend money in cities and towns and thus will mind less that people from outside find it harder to enter cities and towns by car.

But, if cities become big, I think renewables will be the way forward or these cities become unliveable. Indeed, most of these cities, even those in China where their growth is largely controlled, face the same problems: dirty and poisonous air, dirty rivers with undrinkable water in addition to traffic problems. And thus, electric cars produce less (no) pollution, certainly if the electricity is produced via sun and wind energy, something that is possible when all roofs of buildings have solar panels while smaller windmills (that can function with less wind) can be placed on top of buildings so most electricity doesn't need to be transported over long distance and thus less loss of energy while our view is not spoiled by too many large windmills (some may still be needed). And of course, we should introduce this gradually so that, by the time the nuclear and other electricity producers are too old and need to be closed, sufficient renewables are available so only a fraction of large energy producers need to be replaced. China realises this, partly because they experience the problems of overcrowded cities (such as bad air and dead rivers) and therefore buys producers of renewables so China can later sell these equipment to the countries that mainly invented these energy producers. Also installations will be needed to clean the sewages of cities before the water can pollute rivers, lakes and seas or the water can be reused such as to clean.

Finally, European cities may become smaller? Maybe. But if cities become too big, some people will move to other places and yes, migration towards Europe exploded the past few years. Further, the mayor of Copenhagen is correct when he says that often local initiatives are quicker than what higher governments can do. Still, higher governments can encourage cities and towns to act and reward (sometimes even by giving only a special honour) so there is competition to be the cleanest. Later, other cities can learn from the initiatives and include the best measures on their own place, sometimes as a result of changes at the higher levels that forces cities that lag behind to move forward.

In conclusion, the future is, as was in the past, for cities where people live close to work and can socialise. But, conditions are that cities have good access to food and drinks, have good public transport that reaches most parts of the city while cars, houses and industry pollute little because renewables are mainly responsible for the production of energy. Cities and towns should also be safe with sufficient areas such as parks where people can relax and do sport while children can play without parents who need to worry about the safety of their children.

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