Friday, March 17

A Planet of Slums

For the first time in human history, the number of people living in urban areas matches the number of people living in rural areas. In fact, after 2020, cities will account for all future world population growth while the number of people living rurally will shrink at a constant rate. The majority of these new "urbanites" will live in cities like Lagos, Mumbai, Mexico City, and Jakarta.

But what's really fascinating is that of all urbanites, world-wide, 3/4ths of them will live in something that can't even really be called a "city" by Western standar
ds. These are the slums, the shantytowns and the favelas... the peripherally urban.

Kibera, Kenya - Africa's largest slum:



This is what humanity looks like, and it's hardly a blip on the radar of what Western culture considers important. Mike Davis, a self-described "Marxist-Environmentalist", explores this complex reality in his new book, Planet of Slums.

Excerpt:

"The cities of the future, rather than being made out of glass and steel as envisioned by earlier generations of urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks, and scrap wood... Instead of cities of light soaring toward heaven, much of the twenty-first-century urban world squats in squalor, surrounded by pollution, excrement, and decay."

Amazon.com
Salon.com Review
New Left Review

4 comments:

~Kaytaz~ said...

In fact, after 2020, cities will account for all future world population growth while the number of people living rurally will shrink at a constant rate.

I disagree. I think that the number of people living in rural areas will increase at a constant rate.

Colin said...

The global countryside has reached its maximum population (3.2 billion) and will begin to shrink after 2020.

If it is indeed all that important to you, see:

Wolfgang Lutz, Warren Sandeson and Sergei Scherbov, ‘Doubling of world population unlikely’, Nature 387, 19 June 1997, pp. 803–4.

Nicholas said...

Part of the problem may also stem from the lack of a clear definition of how the urban environment ends and the rural landscape begins. This fringe area, often termed as "Peri-Urban" defies clear definition as it is not considered either urban or rural.

jeffrey s said...

How are all those people going to be fed?? Maybe that's what kaytaz is refering to...moving out of the city in order to eat...

The planet of slums vision is a little too close to the "Soylent Green" version for my comfort.