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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Tipping points - Urbanisation

"For the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas. By 2050, 6.5bn people, two-thirds of all humanity, will live and work in cities. In 1950 fewer than one billion did so." Excerpt from a 26 May 2015 FT article by Ivo Daalder, a Dutch-American, called "A new global order of cities". Also see my 28 May 2015 blog: "Global city-states - a new Hanseatic League".

Global urbanisation is not considered a relevant factor in the 8 causes for climate change, as listed by the British Geological Survey. Nevertheless, global urbanisation increased average temperatures in the big cities while average temps decreased outside the big cities (excerpt of my 3 May 2015 blog). The immense social impact of urbanisation was covered in my 1 October 2015 blog. The political impact of global city states was covered in my 14 March 2016 blog.

In my 18 April 2016 blog - "Wobbling Earth" - I mentioned that the the Earth's wobble might be the "tipping point" for all 8 known causes for climate change. Remarkably, "Changes in polar ice appeared to have no relationship to the wobble -- only changes in water on land. The researchers say it's because the spin axis is very sensitive to changes occurring around 45 degrees latitude, both north and south" (NASA, 8 April 2016).

Let's take a look at the picture of Earth to see what we can find at 45 degrees north and south. Clearly, 45 degrees south does not show a lot of global urbanisation. Basically, it covers the deep end of Australia and the south of South America. South Africa is even above the 45 degrees south latitude.

The 45 degree north latitude shows a very different picture as it shows lots of global urbanisation. Unfortunately, it's really difficult to relate the Earth's mass to the weight of cities (eg, Manhattan, LA). Frankly, the outcome of both might be negligible but I have no clue what NASA's "very sensitive" could imply.

In all fairness, global urbanisation might be the biggest tipping point in human history, ever. Not only from a "simple" demographic point of view but also from a climate, political and social perspective. And perhaps even from a wobbling Earth's perspective. It is really hard noticing fundamental changes when you are right in the middle of them, and when these changes occur very, very slowly.

The next step in global urbanisation is already on its way: smart cities (eg, Dutch public TV). The best way to explain this concept is by comparing your old Nokia 3210 mobile phone to today's iPhone or smartphone. Smart cities are all about connectivity (eg, appliances, cars, people) but also about big data, data privacy and data ownership (see my 20 January 2015 blog). 

Big City (1978) - artistlyrics, video, Wiki (NL), Wiki (UK)



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