get yr slum on
Samantha Morton has absolutely nothing to do with slums - at least that I know of - but her picture makes me so much happier than this post does.
The Independent of London:
The combined forces of population growth and urbanisation are creating a planet of slums, where the urban population will have doubled by 2030, according to a report released by the United Nations today.
The shanty towns that choke the cities of Africa and Asia are experiencing unstoppable growth, expanding by more than a million people every week, according to the "state of the world's population" report.
The UN's findings echo recent predictions that 2008 will see a watershed in human history as the balance of the world's population tips from rural to urban. Many of the new urbanites will be poor and the shelters into which they move, or are born, will be slums.
"The growth of cities will be the single largest influence on development in the 21st century," the report states. It maintains that over the next 30 years, the population of African and Asian cities will double, adding 1.7 billion people - more than the current populations of the US and China combined.
In this new world the majority of theurban poor will be under 25, unemployed and vulnerable to fundamentalism, Christian and Islamic.
Mike Davis, a population expert, described this emerging underclass in his recent work Planet of Slums as: "A billion-strong global proletariat ejected from the formal economy, with Islam and Pentecostalism as songs for the dispossessed."
While some critics have accused Mr Davis of scaremongering, the UN's findings appear to back many of his basic assertions.
Slums have been part of human communities since Mesopotamia but our modern concept of segregated slums for the poor comes from the Industrial Revolution. The difference between then and now is a question of scale, with today's slum dwellers being one-in-three of all city dwellers.
More than 90 per cent of this underclass are in the developing world, with South Asia having the largest share, followed by eastern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. In sub-Saharan Africa, growth has become synonymous with slums and 72 per cent of the population live in slum conditions.
Growth of urbanisation
* By 2008, more than half of the world's current 6.7billion population will live in cities.
* By 2030, the urban population will have risen to 5 billion, 60 per cent of the world's population.
* Half of the world's urban population is currently under 25. By 2030, young people will make up the vast majority of the 5 billion urban dwellers.
* Between 2000 and 2030, Asia's urban population will increase from 1.3 billion to 2.64 billion. Africa's population will rise from 294 million to 742 million, Latin America and the Caribbean from 394 million to 609million.
* Mega-cities do not have a monopoly on population growth. More than half of the urban world lives in cities with a population of less than 500,000.
More Mike Davis' slumming here, and some more socio-ecological-perspective here.
As this story begins to take shape - cities gotta grow, cars gotta drive - it's going to be fascinating/horrifying to see what the predictions might be for the state of our remaining wilderness areas, not to mention the fate of arable farmland and good soil.